In recent news, Rockstar announced that L.A Noire will be getting a remaster coming this November, outfitted with 4K Resolution and outfitted with Switch controls, and this made me want to play the game again but I sold the game, years ago. Then, I quickly remembered how that ending was so indifferent and bad and I questioned if I really wanted to go through that again, I said “Nope.” , at least not now. The ending was controversial back in 2011, perhaps it’s time to change perspective and see if the passing of time has changed my mind about it’s ending?
At first, L.A Noire says to you that this game is GTA but you’re policeman (which ultimately was one of the problems.) with it’s somewhat useless open world version of 1947 Los Angeles but by the end, it twists your exceptions and it doesn’t say GTA instead it says “This is a Noir movie where you are not the hero.”
Cole Phelps is a character that I liked, but not really. The only reason why I liked him is that he was played by Aaron Stanton, who played Ken in Mad Men. Cole Phelps is smug, obsessed with authority, eager to seek glory, somewhat of a coward, and prides himself on showing the rest of the LAPD that he’s smarter then everyone else in the room, that alone made me dislike him. Throughout the game, Cole rises through the ranks with dozens of cases. For a time, the game just as one goal which is solve the case and get promoted until when he and you reaches Vice.
This objective changes when you’re in Vice. Phelps is much a mystery to the game’s cast as he is to you, a war hero who is private in his affairs and achievements. He is unknowable to you outside of the badge he wears but by the end of Vice, Cole who happens to be married and has children cheats on his wife with Elsa, a nightclub singer who fled Nazi Germany during the war back to her apartment and sleeps with her. It comes unexpectedly.
This ultimately tells you that Phelps isn’t yours to control, he’s a character with his own agenda.
This leads to Phelps being demoted to Arson and to a formal charge of Adultery. Arson is the endgame to L.A Noire. Phelps and Herschel Biggs investigate a series of house fires that seems to be linked to a major real estate mogul with some friends in high places which includes the Mayor and the Chief of Police. Phelps who is beholden to the law and unable to do anything in this state of disgrace, he asks to Elsa to bring in his old friend, Jack Kelso into investigating this conspiracy.
Jack Kelso is the true hero of L.A Noire, when Elsa walks into his office with a mysterious case to solve, the game changes from a police procedure to a game with noire-ish qualities and ultimately becomes noire. It suddenly becomes L.A Confidential and The Black Dahlia and many other movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s, that it inspires from. Jack is a plucky investigator with all of the one-liners, much of Arson you don’t even play as Phelps; it is spent following Kelso as he attempts to topple the real estate mogul and his cohorts but ultimately the powers that are too corrupt and too large to be taken down ultimately whens the day and L.A Noire ends with the funeral of Cole Phelps and at the end, the conspirators get away and this is the case of the “Good Guys lose.” and in that time, at that point in the 20th century, it was all about shaking the right hands.
By the end, Cole Phelps finds Redemption in a way and Jack Kelso goes back to doing what he was doing and the wheel keeps spinning. As a game ending, it sucks and it’s pretty bad but as a conclusion to a noir story, it’s pretty good. Maybe, the passing of time has changed my mind on L.A Noire’s ending.