Review: LA Cops (PS4)

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Title: LA Cops
Format: PlayStation Network Download (420 MB)
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Team 17 Software Ltd (US), Team 17 Digital Ltd (UK)
Developer: Modern Dream Ltd.
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €13.99 (EU), £11.49 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
LA Cops is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
LA Cops is set in a simplistic cel shaded top-down world with stereotypical levels like the Donut Shop and Mansion that get progressively harder as the game goes on. Your main goal is to save the hostage, destroy the drugs and kill every single bad guy. You can arrest them if you can get close enough without being seen, although it isn’t as much fun.

In a play-style similar to Hotline Miami you charge around the level killing bad guys and trying not to take a bullet yourself. What makes this game different is the other cop by your side. You can switch between the two cops and order the other to certain locations or to take out a highlighted enemy. It can work very well if you time it right, both charging into a room and killing the bad guys but you cannot plan the attack in advance. This means the instant you highlight an enemy your partner runs off to take them out leaving you to try to select another enemy or run in after them guns blazing, praying you don’t miss.

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There are always pieces of furniture to hide behind but no actual cover mechanic to take advantage of it. The only time I pay attention to them is when my character becomes stuck when trying to move around them, which is sadly quite often. Your partner doesn’t seem to be the smartest cop in the precinct and is often killed because he’s facing the wrong way as three bad guys burst into the room and doesn’t bother reacting.

It isn’t just your partner who has a ‘few empty chambers in his revolver’ if you know what I mean. It seems that the enemy artificial intelligence sometimes goes into sleep mode and at random times some, or all of the enemies will aimlessly walk continually in circles. This makes it harder to time your incursion into the next room without being spotted by the drooling buffoons.

… I tend to leave my incompetent partner …
The only times an enemy will break their basic routines is when they spot you or your partner, or hear gunfire. They have to be quite close as their hearing doesn’t seem to be that good. Their eyes aren’t much better as they’ll walk past their handcuffed or dead friends without so much as a glance.

This game would be so much better if you could plan your partner’s moves in advance or better still, be able to play with a friend either online or local co-op. What makes the game easier and slightly more enjoyable over time is the ability to upgrade each character. Using XP gained from playing a level you can increase a character’s Speed, Strength, Clip size, and Health. You can also buy a few different weapons like a shotgun or Uzi. So grinding the earlier levels might make life easier later on.

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If you or your partner gets taken out all is not lost if there is a health kit in the level, as returning with it can revive the fallen cop and get them back in action. I tend to leave my incompetent partner in the beginning of the level out of harms way and only make use of him to carry the health pick-ups.

The game has a leaderboard system with personal, global, and friend rankings for each level that works well but there’s no way of knowing if you beat any scores until you check yourself. A small notification pop-up during or after a level would make this more of a score chasing game. With three difficulties for each level and progressively longer levels as the game goes on, LA Cops will take some time to get through, especially if you plan on going for the Platinum Trophy as one of the thirteen Trophies requires you to complete every level on Nightmare Mode. I think many controllers would have been broken in frustration before that was achieved.

… my police officer was impossibly shot and killed through a wall …
Visuals:
The 3D cel-shaded look is nice and gives LA Cops a very distinctive feel. The skippable cutscenes have a cheesy ’70s TV series vibe that made me smile. You can rotate the camera around the level which can help with spotting bad guys behind a wall. You can also zoom in and out of the level, the latter being quite pointless and the former not zooming enough to warrant it being effective.

There are no visual indicators as to where the enemies are looking and they can sometimes spot you from a long way off. On several occasions my police officer was impossibly shot and killed through a wall and at random times an enemy will notice your officer when they’re approaching from behind and instantly turn and gun them down.

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Audio:
Voice acting is okay, if a little rough here and there. The music, whilst forgettable, is fine to have on in the background whilst you struggle with the gameplay. The sound of gunfire is satisfying as is the damage it causes to all the breakable objects in the level.

Online/Multiplayer:
This is a single player game only with no online component and that is its biggest downfall. At the very least there should have been a competent A.I. that follows your character around and notices enemies when they enter the room.

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Conclusion:
LA Cops could have been a fantastic two player co-op game but sadly just feels like a frustrating missed opportunity. Don’t get me wrong it still has moments that work and I enjoy, but clumsy A.I. and an awkward shooting mechanic stops me from having too much fun.

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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