Los Angeles is an odd location for a cop game. While the Los Angeles Police Department is one of the more famous precincts in America, it's famous for the wrong reasons. The LAPD is famous due to racism, unneeded brutality, and for being the catalyst for the 1992 LA riots. So unless you're trying to make some sort of larger point, which this game doesn't do, maybe making a game where you shoot hundreds of LA citizens isn't the greatest idea.
Aside from the awfully strange choice of location, LA Cops is your standard top-down shooter. Players choose two cops from the LAPD to take with them on missions and, once a level starts, they are presented with several objectives. These objectives are often mundane goals, such as incapacitating all of the criminals, reaching the next area or destroying drugs. They are generic goals, but you don't have much time to really think about them as you are constantly being shot at by enemies.
The game is presented from an isometric view similar to Hotline Miami, and since it had the bad luck of releasing the same week as the game's sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, it is hard not to make comparisons between the two games. Combat in LA Cops never really feels satisfying, as the player rarely actually aims their gun; instead the game has a lock-on system that makes combat very easy. Tap 'X' on the Xbox One controller, fire your gun with the right trigger and, BAM, the criminal is dead — simple as that.
Challenge is presented more in the number of enemies that the game throws at the player rather than single encounters. If the player doesn't manage the number of enemies that are coming toward him at once, death will quickly occur. Once one of the cops is down, the player will be switched to the other officer in the level. The cops control identical to each other from the onset, although skill points are gained after completing levels so you can modify each cop in a number of ways, such as adding hit points (although no matter how much health you have you can die in an instant) or allowing them to carry more ammo.
It is up to the player how they wish to use this two cop mechanic. With a press of the 'A' button, you can send the AI controlled cop to go to an area to provide cover, but this can be difficult to do without the AI ending up killed after any interaction with combat. That is why it might be easier to just play the game as a one-player experience with the second cop hidden away from any enemies, acting as a second life. There's health, in the form of donuts (because cops love donuts, right?!), scattered throughout the levels, and even medkits that can revive a downed officer. But it isn't too important to revive an officer, since as soon as you go to a second area in a level they'll be magically revived.
Throughout the majority of LA Cops, a surmountable, non-frustrating challenge was presented. That is, until its terrible final boss fight. The boss fight has the player battling wave after wave of endless baddies (no seriously... endless) as the player has to waste a ton of ammo by destroying slot machines so they can get the final boss to come out from hiding. It is a poorly designed, dull, repetitive way to end a game that really was fine just being okay for the most part. A good ending can rarely make a game considerably better, but a bad one can easily make the whole experience feel like it wasn't worthwhile.
One area where the game really succeeds, though, is with its sense of style. Featuring a striking visual presentation that perfectly captures the 1970's feel that the game is going for, LA Cops always looks good. The cutscenes shown before each level are equally stylish, but it is awkward to look at the character's faces when they don't have any semblance of a nose.
The soundtrack isn't great, as it's mostly forgettable generic-sounding rock music; that being said, it is exactly the type of generic-sounding rock music one would expect to hear while watching a corny cop show. So it kind of works well as part of the overall package, even if we have zero interest in listening to any of the music outside of LA Cops itself.
When all of the different mechanics in LA Cops come together, it can be a pretty fun and memorable experience; it's just a shame that things don't come together more often. The game rarely forces the player to use the teamwork mechanic, and since it's non-functional most of the time, we typically refrained from using it anyway. Ultimately, LA Cops is a decent, short run through a cop-themed shooter that doesn't do enough to really impress.
Bummer — I was hoping to play this when I have a little time between reviews. Sounds like I won't like it, though. Thanks for saving me the money, Tyler!
@DRL Hotline Miami is a better game in every aspect so there really isn't any reason to purchase this. It'd be like if a mediocre 2D Skateboard game launched alongside OlliOlli2.
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