Retro Weekly

Retro Weekly Number 1: Future Cop LAPD

Welcome to Retro Weekly!

My name is Joe, and I love all things retro.

Here’s how this is going to go down. Each week, I will take a random game from anywhere in the retro spectrum. I’ll talk about the good parts, the bad parts, and everything in between.

To kick things off, Retro Weekly will be featuring a true classic: Future Cop: LAPD on the original Playstation.

Future Cop: LAPD is an isometric shooter published by EA and was first released on the Playstation in 1998. It was originally developed as an installment to the popular Strike series, too. In Future Cop, you assume the role of a pilot for the X1-Alpha, a robot designed to fight Los Angeles’ “Crime War” in the year 2098. The X1-Alpha is a police vehicle that can transform between a fast, hovering pursuit form, and a slower combat mecha.

Future Cop was one of my favorite Playstation games from the nineties. It brought me and my friends hours of enjoyment with co-op capabilities. Not only could you play through the game on a solo warpath, but you and a friend could team up to fight futuristic crime and bring peace to the land.

I remember playing this game mostly at my friend’s house, taking turns to see who could get the furthest through the story with the aim of being the first to finish. Once one of us had achieved this, we started playing in co-op mode to see if we could run the campaign quicker as a pair. I remember Future Cop being a fascinating game to play, so it was an easy choice for this first installment of Retro Weekly. With the two game modes, Future Cop brought me a lot of fun and a lot of hours of action packed third-person enemy blasting. This game stands up in today’s gaming world because of how some of the game aspect still stand strong amongst the modern games we see everyday.

The game’s mechanics blew my mind back in the day. The ability to switch between a walking bot cop and a strolling bot cop car (what I used to call them) was fascinating. I was only young at the time and can’t say I’d experienced much like it at that time in my childhood. The cutscenes alone had charm about them– they pulled you in and grabbed your interest right from the start. The storytelling didn’t break any new ground, but damn did it suck me in.

One of the amazing cut scenes.

One of the amazing cutscenes.

The variation of weapons and methods to go about your missions presented a sense of openness that I hadn’t experienced at the time. Future Cop had a huge influence on the way I saw gaming, opening me to that kind of gameplay where friends are all you need to have a good time shooting bad guys.

Bot cop car... sorta

Bot…cop…car?

Future Cop has a wide arsenal of unlockable weapons, including a wicked gatling laser and a plasma flare. Each weapon had its own strengths and weaknesses such as range, damage, and firing speed.

There are two gameplay modes in the Future Cop: Crime War and Precinct Assault (both modes can be played either as single player or two player). Precinct Assault is a free-combat mode in which each player starts with a single base and can capture automated turrets or outposts across the level. The objective is to defeat opponents by purchasing and deploying Hovertanks to invade their bases. The game ends when one player’s base is breached by either a standard or super-sized “Dreadnought” Hovertank.

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Remember when menus used to look like this?

Despite its poor sales (barely 200,000 copies), the game received generally positive reviews. IGN gave it an 8.3, saying “the whole package is there. Great sound effects, good single-player action, tons of non-stop shooting, lots of great weapons, massive explosions, and a super two-player mode.” Even though its sales may have been poor, reception was widely positive.

Do I think this game is worth you getting your hands on? Whether it be via digital download or (preferably) a good old-fashioned hard copy, then my answer would have to be yes. Future Cop was a fantastic game and could very easily fit into your gaming regimen in this modern age.

Apparently, a lot of my friends here at Leviathyn have fond memories of Future Cop. Amongst them is writer Jeremy Peeples. He took some time to wax nostalgic with me:

Long before Battlefield, EA’s shooter lineup was a bit barren. They had Medal of Honor in the latter-day PS1 era and the Strike series before that. Out of the 3/4 overhead Strike games came Future Cop: LAPD. This mech shooter features a transforming police robot piloted by the player. In it, you can blast away at enemies with machine guns, missiles, and mortars. Each basic weapon type can be altered with upgrades found in the level via yellow triangles. These can also signal reload areas and health pickups. Enemies come at you in droves and while the idea of playing what could be a twin-stick shooter without two sticks may seem cumbersome, it isn’t.
As you can see, the weaponry and the style of combat are some of the strongest points in the design.
There is a minimal learning curve and a lot of that has to do with Future Cop starting off with a brilliant tutorial video that shows you every button command and what it does in execution. Right away, you’re able to get a sense for the controls, so piloting is second nature within seconds.
Unlike far too many PS1 games, Future Cop’s graphics have held up quite nicely. It’s not cutting edge, sure, but everything on-screen is still pleasing to the eye. The soundtrack and voice work are especially high-grade, with the latter being some of the best of its era. Future Cop received a fairly extensive ad campaign in print, but didn’t get much in the way of TV ads. It was a sleeper hit on the PS1 and a franchise that EA chose to not continue with after the initial game. Future Cop: LAPD has, thankfully, been re-released on PSN and is playable on the PS3 and PSP. Anyone who loves isometric and twin-stick shooters should give it a shot, because it remains a fantastic game in 2015.
Despite Future Cop’s age, Jeremy is right. The graphics have aged well and the intuitive gameplay has aged even better. That’s what makes this game so special, and probably one of the reasons that it came back on the PS3 and PSP via PSN. Digital distribution has given second life to old games like Future Cop.

The game in play.

Stopping crime, one giant robot at a time.

 I advise you all go and see for yourself just what an epic game Future Cop really is. Stay tuned for another installment of Retro Weekly sometime soon!


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