L.A. Noire

Game review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
L.A. Noire Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Complex, violent police drama has 1940s vibe.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 29 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 44 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Game clearly places players on side of good. Film noir-inspired story focuses on bringing criminals to justice.  But it doesn't shy away from portraying the corruption, violence, sexual imagery often involved in this pursuit.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Protagonist often referred to as a clean cop, an incorruptible hero who is fair-minded, strongly motivated to discover the truth at all costs. But most of the characters are archetypes from the period. They may use racial slurs, casually discuss spousal abuse, drink heavily while on the job. And our hero, though clearly depicted as an upstanding officer, isn't always kind when interrogating persons of interest. He sometimes lashes out with terrible accusations -- at player's command -- without good reason. Plus, it's not uncommon for him to strike pedestrians while driving, though they all seem to live (game strongly discourages running down civilians).

Ease of Play

While controls for driving, gunfights are pretty standard and should prove familiar to veteran gamers, other aspects, such as searching crime scenes, interrogating persons of interest, flipping through case notebook, are wholly original and will take time to learn, regardless of player experience. Interviews are particularly hard, as players must watch, listen carefully to determine whether interviewees are telling the truth.

Violence

Frequent gunfights against a wide variety of criminal characters, such as murderers, robbers, abusive spouses. Characters yelp in pain, blood sprays from wounds to stain clothing and coat the ground. Several interactive scenarios show gruesome, bloody murder scenes, with player manipulating corpses looking for clues. Players also engage in relatively mild fistfights. Non-interactive scenes show criminals beating, shooting, murdering people in graphic ways that involve weapons such as crowbars, guns. Players can strike pedestrians with cars, but these civilians always seem to survive, dodging so they take only a glancing blow.

Sex

Several crime scenes show fully naked corpses of women sprawled on the ground. Players can interact with these corpses, closely examining marks, wounds on abdomen, chest, wrists, face. One of the city's stores has a sculpture of a bare-breasted woman on its shop front. Another scene shows a deranged man running around in his underwear. Sexual topics are brought up casually in dialogue, with characters using words like "shlong" and discussing a woman's ripped panties.

Language

Full range of swear words, including "ass," "bitch," "s--t," several variations of "f--k." Several characters use racial slurs of the  time period, including "kike," "goy," and the "N" word.

Consumerism

Several products sporting known brands -- Tiffany & Co., Chevrolet, Oxydol -- appear in the game environment, but they're more period-specific set dressing than product placements.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many non-player characters smoke cigarettes, drink, appear in bar scenes visited during investigations. Players also examine empty beer bottles, cigarette packages, matchbooks, cigarette stubs. Tobacco company ad on radio describes in detail why its cigarettes are most satisfying. Some investigations involve examination of drug evidence, including marijuana, syringes, pills. In one scene, while examining someone who died from a drug overdose, players examine an arm bruised with track marks.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that L.A. Noire is a mature crime thriller featuring gunfights, nude corpses, and strong language. The game's complex cases force players to unflinchingly investigate some very disturbing crime scenes, absorbing as much as they can from mutilated bodies and other bloody evidence (including drug paraphernalia such as pills, syringes, and bags of marijuana) in order to identify and track down criminal suspects. While mature themes are prevalent throughout, the story is presented from the side of law enforcement, and its protagonist -- the character that players control -- is depicted as an incorruptibly good cop seeking justice in each case he's assigned. There's lots of strong profanity that covers every type of phrase imaginable, as well as plenty of racial slurs.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byi am an adult yes May 7, 2020

Not Violent

Commonsence is really overlooking this game. its not violent and wearing is uncommon
Adult Written byDxPs4Dsp April 23, 2020

Great game but can get mature from time to time

This is an awesome crime drama game obviously there is lots of intense violence including gun fights but not very bloody, some blood, I only saw one brief nudit... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byCheeseburger743 December 13, 2014

READ IF YOUR KID IS 10 OR OVER

My parents didn't wasn't to get me this game because of the sex but the ended up getting for me on Christmas. My mom told me to tell her when the nudi... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous October 22, 2015

Woah!!!

Very violent, LOTS of nudity!

What's it about?

Combining elements from film noir, modern procedural police dramas, and third-person open-world action games, L.A. NOIRE puts players in the shoes of Cole Phelps, a decorated World War II veteran who starts a career on the L.A. police force in 1946 and quickly gets promoted from beat cop to detective. Each new case requires him to study crime scenes in search of evidence and to record clues in his notebook. He puts the pieces together to identify persons of interest, then finds and interrogates them. Thanks to a bar-raising, performance-capture technique, characters are capable of subtle facial expressions that may indicate when an interviewee is holding back on the truth or outright lying. Players have to decide on the fly whether they trust the responses they hear, and they could accidentally send the wrong person to jail if they make mistakes. Players can also choose to accept quick one-off missions -- in-progress bank robberies, domestic abuse situations, suicidal jumpers -- via calls that come in over the radio as they drive through an intricately detailed re-creation of mid-century Los Angeles. Updated versions include remastered graphics, a better interrogation system, and touch controls on the Switch.

Is it any good?

There's no other game like L.A. Noire. Some elements -- the third-person gun battles, for example -- are clearly derivative. But the meat of the game -- procedural investigations that involve exhaustive crime scene searches, intense interviews with persons of interest, canvasing people who live near crime scenes, chats with the coroner to gather scientific evidence -- is something that's never been seen before in this manner in the world of interactive entertainment. And it's extremely compelling. To put it another way, it's a dark, gritty, and more cinematic version of Grand Theft Auto. Either way, it's a gripping game, one that's faithful to the hard-boiled, noir crime novels and movies that inspired it.

As for what this new edition adds to the crime drama, it not only includes all of the crimes added later, as well as upgraded graphics, but also changes your options when interrogating a suspect. Instead of "Truth," "Doubt," or "Lie," which sometimes made you seem unhinged, you can now choose from "Good Cop," "Bad Cop," or "Accuse," though what you and they actually say is still the same. In addition, the Switch edition adds touch controls. Otherwise, though, it's the same as it was six years ago. Which, sadly, means it has the same clunky shooting controls, some heavy-handed psychology, and interrogations that are as much about pattern recognition as they are about using your intuition. Still, if you're a fan of noir movies and novels, as well as open world action games, L.A. Noire manages to meld both into a compelling narrative.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Does it bother you if games allow or direct you to hurt innocent characters? Do you prefer to always play as the good guy?

  • Does this procedure-oriented game make the job of a detective seem interesting to you? Do you think you might have a knack for finding clues, reading interviewee reactions, and putting puzzle pieces together?

  • Talk about obeying the law. Why do we have laws? What would society be like if we didn't? Do you understand why you have to obey the law like everyone else?

  • Discuss using drugs. What does this game show us about people who use drugs? Does it make them look cool, or does it make them look bad?

  • Talk about racism. Being racist was much more accepted in 1947, so how has our society changed? How has it not changed?

Game details

For kids who love adventure

Our editors recommend

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