Everyone knows why you play a criminal in a Grand Theft Auto game— the fun of a sandbox environment is in the chaos and trouble you can cause, and so you base your story around a character who's going to stir up a lot of it. L.A. Noire is a game that tries to use the open-world format of GTA with a character and story that demands you act professionally and not only abide by but enforce the law. It's a tough switch— L.A. Noire's an ambitious, polarizing title and a lot of the split opinions about it stem from how much more difficult it is to be a cop than a criminal in a game like this.

This retrospective critique of the game tries to puzzle out some of that design tension, as well as breaking down the game's slow-burn plot and how it relates to the Noir films it imitates and draws from. It's got total spoilers if you've never played the game before, but if you wrote this game off as a GTA clone and never took a closer look, this is the video where you can learn differently.