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LA Cops Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While it delivers a few thrills here and there, LA Cops is ultimately handcuffed by the limited gameplay and squad tactics. The charming art style isn't enough to make up for inconsistent bad guys and frustrating level designs. This is one crime scene not worth investigating. Rating: 40%
LA Cops
LA Cops LA Cops LA Cops LA Cops
  • Review Score:

  • C-
From the sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean to the majestic redwood forests, California is home to some of the world's most gorgeous destinations. It's also known for having great weather, making the most popular entertainment and attracting the sexiest people. It's a shame the hard-working characters in LA Cops are too busy shooting everything in sight to fully appreciate the state's natural splendor.

Taking its style from cop shows of the 1970s and 80s, this is a fast-paced action game where everybody seems more worried about grooming their coiffe than abiding by the letter of the law. This is a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later kind of precinct, and it seems these cops are always finding reasons to use their guns to solve problems.

As it turns out, a Los Angeles police officer's job is not demonstrably different from that of the psychotic killer leading the charge in the popular Hotline Miami franchise. Players work their way through a wide variety of buildings, going room-by-room killing anybody that gets in their way. Each mission is presented under the guise of police work -- find drugs in the apartment bust, rescue hostages from a skyscraper -- but it's really just an excuse to use a bunch of different guns to murder suspects.

Instead of simply recreating the frantic action found in Hotline Miami, LA Cops attempts to add tactical elements by including a second character. No, this is not a two-player game, but having a partner around does give the police officers a little more freedom to storm through the city's various crime scenes.

Your partner is not computer-controlled, so players will either need to bark orders or push the "Y" button to switch characters. Telling your partner where to go is the fastest method, but it's limited in execution and rarely works as advertised. There's no way to order your partner to burst into a room and take out a specific criminal or sneak up behind somebody to make the arrest. They only have one setting, and that's to stand still and wait for a bad guy to penetrate their cone of vision. Of course, even that doesn't work like it should. Half the time my partner would run to the marked location and then proceed to face the wrong direction.

Controlling the police officer is a little easier, but it too is riddled with questionable design decisions. In theory this is a dual-stick shooter, but playing the game like Geometry Wars is suicide. Because the action moves so quickly, I found that most of my aiming was done by locking on to the criminal. Unfortunately, the targeting system is wildly inconsistent and will sometimes not recognize nearby foes. Worst of all, cycling through the different targets can be a real nightmare.

LA Cops (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The action is largely limited to running around and shooting, with absolutely no care put into giving these officers special moves or abilities. It would have been helpful to avoid enemies with a roll or by jumping out of the way. LA Cops is in serious need of a cover mechanic and a way to jump over small objects. And don't even get me started on the lack of smoke grenades.

The criminals are also flawed, as most of them never act like real people. You'll rush into a warehouse shooting everybody in sight, and the few you miss will act like nothing happened. The criminals never notice that their buddies are being arrested, despite sitting on the floor handcuffed. Worse yet, they have a weird tendency to inexplicably shatter doors by walking through them. And did I mention that it's common to get gunned down by off-screen enemies? It's impossible to judge how the different criminals will react, and I found that this inconsistency removed any sense of immersion.

It doesn't help that many of the stages look the same. The minimalist art design is charming at first, but there are too many repeated objects and textures. The building layout is also questionable, as it often feels like it was created at random. There's no care put into this world, so I had a hard time buying it as a real place.

With only a few levels to play through, the game is mercifully short. Each location offers a few difficulty options, but these harder stages only help to highlight the gameplay shortcomings.

LA Cops (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The story is also on the short side. We're given brief vignettes before each mission, but those do little to flesh out the story and left me with more questions than answers. With so many cool looking characters to choose from, it's a shame LA Cops does nothing to give them a personality. To the game's credit, I do like the art design of the cinemas. The characters are dripping with style, which makes the shallow experience that much more disappointing.

While it has all the ingredients for a fun action game, LA Cops feels a bit undercooked. The gameplay could use some tightening up and I wish I had more control over the other officer. And even if you are able to master the limited controls, you'll still need to deal with inconsistent adversaries and frustrating level designs. This is definitely not the Los Angeles Randy Newman lovingly sings about.
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