What awaits Cole Phelps at the next crime scene? Will it be a couple of hopheads who overdosed on morphine and are now on the midnight train to nowhere? Or maybe a young lady whose dreams of Hollywood stardom were chewed up and spit out by the studios and who now lies naked in a park, the victim of a brutal murder? L.A. Noire confronts you with these sad situations and many more. Inspired by film noir classics and hardboiled crime fiction, this tale of a complicated and troubled cop in postwar Los Angeles makes the business of detective work absorbing and rewarding, and it’s drenched in so much authentic late-’40s style that you’ll practically be able to smell the acrid mix of glamour and corruption in the air.
The City of Angels is one of the stars of L.A. Noire, and it gets the red-carpet treatment here. The game re-creates a vast swath of the city circa 1947; though it’s by no means accurate down to the tiniest detail, those who know Los Angeles will appreciate the tremendous amount of research that clearly went into designing this version of it. (You expect to see the historic Egyptian Theatre in its proper place on Hollywood Boulevard, for instance, but seeing the Pig ‘N Whistle right next to it, which has been there since 1927, is impressive.) Your journey takes you from filthy flophouses and hobo camps to elegant mansions and the sleek, modern offices of a company that’s shaping the development of postwar Los Angeles. The architecture, which includes cookie-cutter housing developments that are springing up in droves to capitalize on the return of soldiers from the war, as well as jazz clubs where cops and gangsters alike relax after night falls, is authentic and makes this Los Angeles an absorbing and immersive place.