When first opening up LA Cops, I was drawn in by the vibrant 70’s art style and the catchy rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. A top-down shooter that pits teams of two trigger-happy cops against countless criminals all with a stylish 70’s vibe. The game clearly drew inspiration from Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami and pairing that with the retro backdrop, I was easily sold. The look and feel of LA Cops makes the game stand out from the pack but as you dive into the simple, yet monotonous gameplay, it quickly slips back into mediocrity.
The disjointed story of LA Cops is told through short cut-scenes that are chock full of cheesy one-liners and 70’s police clichés. The vapid story is never really fleshed out and these colorful cut-scenes, that appear between each of the 8 main missions, feel like a justification for the number of goons and drug lords you are about ruthlessly mow down in the name of the law.
No real detective work is achieved during any of the missions of LA Cops. The game assumes a shoot first, and don’t bother asking questions later, mentality. Just like the in the top-down shooter that clearly inspired it, blasting away every bad guy that comes your way is the key to getting through this short campaign. The 3D top-down environments range from doughnut shops to warehouses, although the color palette ultimately has them all looking the same.
In each mission during the campaign you will take two cops along for the ride and are able to seamlessly swap between the two partners. While this system works well enough there is no real friendly AI built-in so your partner will barely move a muscle, only shooting at enemies that come inside their range. This gameplay mechanic begs for players to tactically swap between characters as you make your way throughout the levels, stationing the immobile cop outside doorways to catch the incredibly stupid enemies off guard. Although having a second cop as back up, ultimately felt as if I just had a second life to continue on through the level after my first cop had died.
Having 2 cops was a great opportunity to inject some local or online co-op into the game. Taking down enemies and getting high scores with your buddies would have allowed for some tactical shootouts and would have excused the weak partner AI. Unfortunately, this opportunity is missed and no co-op is available ultimately hurting the presentation of the game in the end.
The enemy AI is a bit of an issue as well. Unaware enemies are often seen walking in circles or staring straight at walls as they patrol through the environments. Dealing with these enemies, especially on the harder difficulties usually resulted in taking advantage of their stupidity and funneling them into doorways for easy kills.
After completing each mission you are given experience points that can be used to upgrade the stats of the six different cops you are able to choose from. Despite each cop starting with some slightly varied stats, none of them bring anything unique to the table. As soon as you start to invest your experience points into one or two of your cops, there is no real reason to pick any of the others. With only 5 different weapons to choose from, the repetitive missions lose their muster rather quickly and turn into monotonous tasks as you walk from one room to another violently killing almost everyone you set your eyes on.
There are other games out there on the market that do what exactly LA Cops is trying to do, but they do it a lot better. This game definitely strays to the more comical side than Hotline Miami ever ventured, but the mission variety, arsenal and story are superior in Hotline. The catchy soundtrack, cheesy jokes and vibrant art style are easily the highlights of this five hour experience. Yet, the repetitive gameplay, vapid story, missed co-op opportunity and weak AI hold it back from being as great as the games that have so clearly inspired it.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PlayStation 4 version of LA Cops developed by LA Cops Ltd and Modern Dream and published by Team 17.
- Catchy Soundtrack
- Great 70s Art Style
- Vapid Story
- Weak AI
- Missed co-op opportunity