In Future Cop: L.A.P.D., a futuristic (21st century) real time action/strategy game, you take to the earthquake-devastated streets in the ultimate assault vehicle, the TAC X-1 Alpha. This tactical assault and combat craft boasts the latest technology in the war against crime and transforms into two distinct patrol units. As a Hovercar, it floats slightly above the ground, travels over water, rotates in place and extremely fast. When used as a Walker, the X-1 Alpha is agile and at its best in high-risk situations and shootouts.
The game is played in two completely different modes, each with its own unique missions, objectives and gameplay. In Crime War, you wage war against specific gangs that control eight sectors of Los Angeles. Each gang has identifying characteristics, weaponry and agendas. The sector locations include Griffith Park, Zuma Beach, La Brea Tar Pits, Venice Beach, Hell's Gate Prison, Studio City, LAX Spaceport and Long Beach, each with distinguishing environmental features and rendered in full 3D.
The second mode of play is Precinct Assault where two players wage war in five zones, each zone consisting of 10 skill levels, with the object being a successful invasion of the opponent's base. In single-player mode, you face a Sky Captain (the AI) and earn points by capturing neutral forces or destroying the enemy. Points are used to purchase new units, such as dreadnoughts, a flying fortress or jet choppers, and build up your forces. Each victory takes you to a progressively harder skill level. In competitive mode, you go head-to-head with a human opponent.
Multi-player action is supported via split-screen (two people on one computer) or over a LAN. More than 15 weapons and hidden power-ups are available in the game with each weapon featuring unique explosions and pyrotechnics. The interface is keyboard controlled with customizable key assignments, the display is adjustable and various optional game setups (music, movies and sound effects) are provided.
September 15, 2098. Los Angeles has been jolted by a major earthquake, leaving the city in shambles. Crime runs rampant in the aftermath and the streets are swarming with mutants, street gangs, and waked-out drug lords. Hmmm ... sounds kinda like LA in 1998 doesn't it?
In response to the felonious frenzy, the LAPD develops the ultimate crime-fighting mechanized unit: the X-1 Alpha. One part hovercar and one part ED-209 from RoboCop, the X-1 Alpha has enough firepower to take down entire city blocks. Included in the X-1's arsenal are such futuristic goodies as the gattling laser, hyper velocity rockets, and a shockwave generator. As mentioned earlier, the X-1 can transform from a robotic walker into a hovercar, which can travel faster than the mechanized weapons platform and can also maneuver over water.
Future Cop features two types of gameplay. There's a single player mode where you are given certain objectives to complete within a few zones in LA, like Zuma Beach, the La Brea Tar Pits, and Griffith Park. These missions generally involve taking out a number of turrets, tanks, and infantry with your ultimate goal being to neutralize a crimelord (read: blow into tiny bits). You'll be guided through each level by your partner ... who just happens to be conveniently located back at HQ out of harm's way. She'll tell you when the air units are overhead, she'll let you know when the gates that block the enemy tanks are opening, she'll give you a shout out when the odds are against you ... all you have to do is blow the crap out of everything on the screen.
Multiple camera angles allow you to control the action from a variety of different views. It's handy to keep zoomed out when battling multiple flying targets, but when you're surrounded by infantry the close-up view gives you the perfect angle to turn hoodlums into a bloody pulp.
With only eight single player missions, you might think that Future Cop would be over fairly quickly. However, the levels themselves are huge and as you get further in the game the difficulty level increases at an exponential rate. It will take a while to finish the single player game and, even after you have finished it, the multiplay base defense mode should keep you busy for quite a while. OK ... the constant carnage does get a little repetitive, but the missions are actually well designed and I never got bored with the game, even after having to play some of the missions over because I didn't complete them the first time around.
Future Cop also includes a multiplayer mode where you'll defend your base against a rival Sky Captain. The more enemy troops and cannons you destroy, the more points you get. The more points you get, the more tanks and planes you can build. Get it? Good! It's a lot like Herzog Zwei (anybody out there remember that old Genesis game?) and it's hella fun against a human opponent.
Overall, Future Cop is a simple yet entertaining game. Sure, it's nothing but a console shooter, but it's the little touches in Future Cop that really make it interesting and even humorous at times (if you do get the game be sure to check out the credits ... the X-1 Alpha busts a pretty good Cabbage Patch). The screams, the explosions, the lighting effects, and the smoke trails from the weapons all intertwine to bring what would otherwise be a fairly mediocre game into the realms of originality and pure, unadulterated fun.
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