L.A Cops is a 3D top down fast paced action shooter being developed by Modern Dream and being published by Team 17 Digital LTD. Modern Dream have developed some great games such as The Cat That Got Milk, which is a free download from their site, and The Button Affair. L.A Cops is a very action packed game with a 70’s theme and some great tactical elements.
The graphics in the game really help to bring across the theme which is….. a 70’s Cop show! Oh yeah that brings back memories! The colours are not dissimilar to some of the earlier GTA games with its Fluorescent pinks, blues and purples. The game is set in L.A, funnily enough, and you visit houses and mansions in places like Hollywood, Malibu and Venice Beach which are all beautifully coloured. The characters themselves also look pretty good and have the same kind of colour style and something that made me laugh was that every character wears sun glasses….and I mean EVERY CHARACTER! The cut scenes are fairly basic but all appear in 3D and the character animations are still pretty good in spite of this. The individual detail on some of the items in the cut scenes are quite good as well as you can see some more of the finer details on some of the weapons and badges of the individual officers that are present in the game.
L.A Cops has a great soundtrack to accompany the gameplay and it really brings out the 70’s Cop show feel. You can hear some great rock music with fantastic guitars throughout your time playing the game and it works so well with the action and ambience of the game that it always keeps you interested. All the other sounds like the voices during gameplay are pretty well done, however I feel as though there could be more. For example, when you change to your partner or someone goes down hurt you seem to hear the same things said over and over again, also the enemies don’t really say much at all so if they could become more vocal then I think it improve the game. I think that this would actually help draw the player in more with a few simple adjustments here and there. Having said that, I really do love the music, I think that it’s one of best characteristics of the game and I can’t stress how well it fits in with the aesthetic.
The gameplay is pretty dynamic; you move with the WASD keys and look around with the mouse. You also have an aiming reticule which the character will follow and will change to red every time you can succesfully hit someone. As I stated before, the camera angle is from a top down perspective but you can rotate the this with the Q and E keys which gives you a better perspective of what’s around you. The only issue that I found with this is that if the camera is in the wrong place and you shoot someone there is no way for you to know if someone is flanking behind you or not.
This brings me to the next point of balance, but before I go on it’s important to note that the game is still in Early Access, hence the game is not complete yet. With that being said there is an issue with the balance in the current version. By this I mean that your character takes a good couple of shots to kill an enemy but it only seems to take the enemy 1 shot to kill you, which I feel is slightly unfair. You can level up your skills at the character selection screen where you can select your 2 police officers who have varying different skill sets you can choose from. From this screen the officers weapons can be changed and there are currently 5 different weapon types to choose from; Pistols, Uzi’s, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, and Grenade Launchers. These weapons feel great to use and are there is a good balance between the Damage inflicted by this weapon and it’s Rate of Fire.
There is also a tactical element to the game with the player being able to control their partner and tell them where to go to support you. You can also time it so that both of the characters breach a door at the same time and you cover each other. This gives the game another element of team work which kind of reminded me of games like Rainbow Six Vegas, which is an awesome series so this comparison doesn’t hurt it at all. At the moment the enemies work on pre-determined paths which is fantastic because they can cover the whole room and there is only a small window for you to breach in and take them all down without getting shot or injured yourself. Covering your partner is one of the keys to accomplishing your objectives in this game, so without covering your partner or making sure you are covered you are simply screwed! Control-wise, the left click shoots, the middle mouse button moves your partner to a better spot and the right click will perform a melee attack which will instantly arrest any enemy you come across. This means that you can kind of duck and weave your way around the map silently arresting the enemies as you go and I think this is a brilliant mechanic. This is a great way to potentially play the game and approach it in a bit more of a “stealthy” way.
However I still feel that the A.I’s of both the enemies and your partners could use a bit of TLC and there are a few things that I would like to see implemented with the A.I, including being able to tell your partner to cover a certain area as they move. At the moment when your partner enters a room they will walk to the determined spot and potentially look at a wall or nowhere near where the enemies are coming from which can cause some issues and confusion. On top of that their detection of enemies at this moment in time is a little lacking but with some work I think it could be amazing.
At the time of writing, the game works on 3 difficulty levels which are Normal, Hard Core and Nightmare. The key difference between these difficulty levels is the types of enemies that you will encounter. This means that they will potentially be better trained and more armed and does not necessarily mean that there will be a higher number of them. For each level you complete you will receive a rating and get some experience points which, as previously mentioned, you can use to upgrade some of your officers. When I was playing the game and one of my officers died I was terrified that I would lose them forever, forcing me to use other officers I had not trained or didn’t want to use but, to my relief, this is not the case.
To sum up, I have to say I am very impressed with this game! I hadn’t heard much from the developer before this came along but I will definitely be looking up some of their other projects. At the moment I will be playing all 9 levels that have been released so far and I hope there is more as time goes on! The game is great fun and has a great feeling to it and is a really good way of spending some quality gaming time. It takes almost no time to load up so you can almost drop in and out as you go which makes the game really efficient. The music is great and the gameplay elements are fantastic and with a bit of tweaking and more time I think this game will make a great addition to anyone’s Steam library.
+ The soundtrack is amazing
+ Stunning visuals
+ Great gameplay mechanics
– The A.I needs some tweaking and re-working
– A Few Balancing issues which need to be addressed