I kick down the door and quickly handcuff the nearest hoodlum before shooting the other two as they spin and run in my direction. The next room has two entrances, so I call in my partner to watch one as I storm in the other, spinning the camera around to give me as much as a heads up as possible blasting away with my shotgun as I run in. A thug I missed manages to get the drop on me with his Uzi, and I immediately swap to my partner, taking the last guy out and completing the last of the level objectives.
And so goes my foray into the world of LA Cops, an interesting game that is equal parts homage and satire to the 70’s era Cops shows it depicts. You begin the game by choosing your two cops from a list of 6 with names such as Williams and Kowalski, names that you can immediately imagine being yelled into a radio by some gruff Captain behind a desk in any cop buddy movie. There is no back story, no plot, but instead a series of 8 main missions and a scattering of bonus ones that are easy to jump into, and all follow a simple set of objectives – beat the bad guys that are holed up within each level.
LA Cops is a fun to play, and I immediately found myself jumping in for quick bursts at a time, clearing a couple of levels before moving on to play something else. After a few initial stop starts the game is easy to pick up and play – move with the left stick, aim with the right, shoot with the right trigger, arrest with the left, and spin the camera with the bumper buttons. The camera is a 3D top down shooter, meaning you can see partly into rooms before you enter them, and spinning the camera around to get a better view quickly becomes as useful as shooting before you burst down the door and enter any room.
Comparisons to Hotline Miami are an obvious one to make, based on the camera view and level structure. Both require you to enter a fixed locale, clear each room of enemies, and then either proceed to another location and repeat or complete a given set of objectives, and both feature that top down view. LA Cops is not as gratuitously violent as Hotline, nor does it follow a storyline as you progress through each level. Each level often starts with a brief interlude scene, harking back to the 70’s era that the game depicts – think sexism and doughnuts and you won’t be a million miles away.
LA Cops tries to be different by throwing in your partner into the mix, who can be summoned by pressing the A button on Xbox One to cover doors or corridors, and they will shoot any and all bad guys that cross their field of view. This tactic can be useful when facing small numbers of enemies, but the simple system is sometimes flawed when trying to get your partner to stand exactly how you want them to – I often found it easier to switch characters with Y, place them exactly where I wanted them to be, and switch back to my “main” cop before bursting in. Clearing rooms all guns blazing is aided massively by the lock on button that can be used to highlight an enemy before you even enter a room. Aiming with the right analogue stick alone can be a bit tricky, but with the aid of lock on shooting almost becomes too easy, particularly on the easier difficulty levels, with lock on disabled only on the most difficult setting.
The game itself doesn’t provide you with a “main” character from the list of 6, instead letting you choose who you want to play with for each level on a level by level basis. Each cop has their own set of stats covering speed, health, damage and clip size, and each comes with a starting weapon, all of which can be upgraded and improved by using XP awarded upon completion of a level. My tactic here was to simply upgrade one cop as much as I could, and use them as my “main” character, rushing into rooms and shooting in short quick bursts with them and only switching to my second cop to line them up on a doorway or should my main cop die, as upon death you immediately switch to your partner.
The first initial levels cause no problems, but the latter ones need both cops to be upgraded in some way as you can be taken down by one clean shotgun blast should you happen to be caught out. This can be frustrating, especially as you approach the end of a stage, but the game design is based around you dying and quickly restarting, and soon this becomes the norm. This forces you to replay some of the easier earlier levels, quickly blitzing your way through each one for some XP to upgrade you character with. It is a simple system that adds a small level of depth to what is essentially a stick shooter.
LA Cops is an enjoyable game, and it does feel oddly refreshing to play as the Police for a change. If you want something that you can quickly jump in and play, you’ll find something to like here.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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