LA Cops: Review

It’s immediately apparent which game inspired LA Cops the moment you start playing it. It may sport an isometric viewpoint and polygonal characters rather than its muse’s top-down sprite-based visuals, but this is clearly a Hotline Miami follower, albeit one in which this time the player is on the other side of the law.

It isn’t a direct lift, however: it does try to mix things up by introducing some new mechanics, most notably the need to control two police officers at once. In theory this means you’ll be methodically making your way through buildings with both cops sometimes issuing “go there” commands to your CPU-controller partner, other times switching control to them entirely but in practice it’s more irritation than innovation.

Your partner’s AI is far too inconsistent to allow for any real degree of tactical planning. When you send them to the next enemy-filled room with the intent of backing them up, it’s impossible to tell how they’re going to act, meaning most of the time you’ll be adjusting your plan depending on your partner’s actions rather than the enemy’s.

Because of this, you’ll find yourself ditching the game’s recommended two-cop approach and going it alone instead, leaving your partner at the start of the stage and treating them as an extra life in case you’re shot. Oddly, this even makes for better scores, as the game gives you a higher rank for the more arrests you make, and this is infinitely easier when you don’t have a partner shooting the bad guys before you can reach them and slap on the cuffs.

Controls feel a little unwieldy regardless of whether you’re playing with keyboard and mouse or a controller. The latter allows for more satisfying twin-stick controls, but both options feel too slippery, as if every floor surface in the game has been waxed.

Engaging enemies in shootouts can also be a temperamental affair. Sometimes you’ll only require a couple of shots to take out a criminal, other times you’ll pump five or six bullets into him before he falls. The criteria that decides which is which has been seemingly lost to the cosmos, because it seemingly isn’t detailed in the game.

The infuriating thing is that despite these issues, when things come together it’s actually very satisfying taking your solo cop (forget your partner) through each room and gunning down oodles of enemies: it’s not unlike a ‘good guy’ version of the scene in The Terminator when Arnie is taking out all the cops.

It’s just a shame that these moments of exhilaration are interrupted by niggles that will constantly have you saying “Well, Hotline Miami wouldn’t do that”. In that respect, then, it isn’t so similar after all.


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