Platform: PC (Reviewed)
Developer: Modern Dream
Release: March, 13th 2015
Have you ever played a game that left you feeling empty on the inside? LA Cops is one of those games.
Developed by Modern Dream and published by Team17, LA Cops is a top-down shooter that features a retro style reminiscent of 70s cop show parodies.
But there’s no Dirty Harry or Paul Kersey to be found here. There are just seven semi-faceless cops who drag you through a series of missions that are both time consuming and frustrating.
I also set out on this review not to make a Beastie Boys reference… oh wait.
The game’s first mission is set in a small restaurant, where you’re tasked with taking down a gang of robbers. As a cop, you can either shoot up the place or arrest the robbers using a melee attack. The game doesn’t indicate which tactic is preferred, although arrests give you more points.
You get to choose two cops for each mission and you’re graded based on your performance. On my first attempt, I went in guns blazing and killed everyone. Jim Walls wouldn’t have been happy with my conduct.
Players can use the environment to knockout enemies by hitting them with doors or sneaking around corners for take-downs. The second cop on your team acts as a sentry and can be sent in to his or her death.
In one instance, I set up my character and my partner back to back against two doors. My plan was to shoot my gun to alert some guards, taking them by surprise. The partner AI wasn’t sophisticated enough to assist me in this strategy. The enemy stormed in and killed us, but it was still a good idea.
The game gets frustrating at times when you get swarmed or killed by someone far off the screen. Unlike other recent examples of this top-down genre, players who have been killed have to go through a short, but all too long, process of restarting the level.
It starts to feel like a slog and you soon realize just how many missions are left. The cheesy cinematic between missions feel like a hollow reward for the time you’ve wasted.
I wouldn’t recommend this game to most people. It feels like a dated, ironic joke that’s already run its course.
I tried to think of ways the developers could have reworked the game to make it stand out among the crowd. LA Cops could have been better served as turn-based strategy game, a style which Team17 is known for. There are fantastic examples in this genre like Police Quest: SWAT 2 or XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and the art direction of this game feels like it could have been a good fit.
One of the game’s saving graces is its lack of extraneous downloadable content, meaning once you boot it up there’s nothing left to buy. I’d hate to think what a free-to-play version of this game would have been like.
Being so close to the release of Hotline Miami 2, LA Cops is unappealing in comparison. It’s worth mentioning that the game’s nihilistic humour, and glorification of police brutality also feels ill-timed considering recent events. LA Cops more like LA Not… going to play this game.