Future Cop LAPD

Posted on October 7, 2016 by Richard Goulter

Future Cop LAPD is an old game, released for PlayStation One, as well as PC.

It looks like there are dozens of videos about it on YouTube, getting ~1k-10k views each. The comments are usually filled with “man, this was such a cool game”.

Sadly, as happens with ‘legacy’ games, it doesn’t look possible to purchase on modern systems. Even on Sony’s ‘PSOne Classics’, it looks only available for PS3, PSP. (Presumably it’s not further avaible on PS4 or PSVita due to licensing/rights issues).

– For myself, I have vague recollections of the game, on a family-friend’s PlayStation.

The gist of the game is you play as a transforming mech/hovertank, with an arsenal of machinegun/rockets/mortar (or various upgrades). The gameplay is either a single-player campaign with the usual bells & whistles, or a ‘MOBA-style’ match against another player (or an AI): ‘MOBA’ in that you control a powerful unit, but victory depends on getting a weaker AI-controlled unit to reach the enemy’s base.
– I don’t know which game would’ve been first with MOBA gameplay. I’ve heard Herzog Zwei on the Sega Genesis as one of the first RTS/MOBA games. – These days, the game AirMech gets a mention in terms of “games with transforming mechs and underling units”.

Watching a couple of the hard levels of this MOBA-style gameplay, I do get the impression that there’s a much greater demand for polish in games these days. It looks like “wow this game was cool” is tained with nostalgia and forgotten memories:

– For one, the gameplay design looks somewhat stunted; in both of these videos, the winning strategy is apparently quite similar. Since the victory objective is “get one of your tanks inside their base”, it’s better to pick the tank which can take punishment. (A potential alternative, I guess, is ‘pick a weaker tank, but from closer to the enemy base’; this doesn’t seem viable?). This also seems to require a certain amount of points have been built up first.
– But, like. It strikes me that in the video, the enemy AI has captured towers on the player’s side, and the player doesn’t seem to see benefit in destroying the tower.
– That enemy missiles travel the same speed as the player’s hovertank strikes me as a cute feature; that the player’s mortar (which can apparently destroy a tower in one hit) is so slow that the dynamic of “destroy a tower” is apparently “fire a mortar, then kindof wait around for the mortar to land” feels.. lame.
– Ammunition is kept as one large amount, rather than smaller amounts which could be replenished at a base. (The effect is, the possible-gameplay-time is the limit; when you run out of ammo you lose. Smaller-but-replenishable instead demands moderation: the short-term cost of firing is much higher).

– In terms of ‘polish’… not so much ‘bad graphics’ (which I’d call ‘charming graphics’), so much as the poor interface: the camera feels wonky, which is perhaps balanced by the simple-ish maps, and short range on enemy towers. The enemy spawning a super-tank is apparently quite a big event, but the UI doesn’t make a big deal of it. There’s no healthbar on towers/tanks (YMMV); no timer or other indication of when a destroyed tower will respawn.
Outposts can be captured once. Idk, it just feels strange that there’s apparently not any (expensive) way for an outpost to be re-captured.

I guess ’cause of the ostensible simplicity of the gameplay, there’s some ambition for I-could-do-that-remake. (e.g. this artists amazing recreation of the mech from the cutscenes. Wow). – “We don’t do it because it’s easy; we do it because we thought it would be.”.
– I’ll totally admit that in an undergrad module, I made an abysmal-failure of an attempt to make something inspired by Future Cop LAPD. – All the same, you’d think that e.g. the maps of the MOBA gameplay would be something more available on the internet.

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