PSN Essentials: Future Cop L.A.P.D.
With news that Sony would be re-releasing it to the PSN, I thought it a perfect time to look back at one of my favorite PSOne titles, Future Cop L.A.P.D., and share with the world how awesome this old game was.
Generally I’m known for being a huge advocate of strong video game narratives. I’ve utterly fallen in love with games like Mass Effect and Fallout 3 which weave solid gameplay with an interesting and engaging storyline. But every now and then, you play games just to let loose, get crazy, and have fun. Enter Future Cop L.A.P.D.
The year is 2098, and yeah, L.A. is still a shitty place to live. As if riots weren’t insane enough in the late 20th century, a late 21st century “Crime War” breaks out that gets so destructive that the L.A.P.D. is forced to introduce the X1-Alpha to stop it. Armed with the X1-Alpha—a transforming vehicle that goes from a slick hovercraft to bipedal combat mech in seconds—it’s up to you to put a stop to the psychos and disasters that plague the city.
And boy is it a hell of a job.
Piloting the X1-Alpha
Fighting super-crime can be a pain in the ass: especially with equally destructive mechs and ships trying to send your pilot into early retirement. What made playing Future Cop L.A.P.D. fun was really getting cozy in the X1-Alpha and getting to know its full capabilities. Despite having everything from artillery rounds to rockets to entire dreadnought ships thrown at you, there was plenty of room to explore the environment, experiment with platforming, and find secret upgrade caches for your ammo and shields.
Even better (and at times mildly frustrating) was trying to figure out whether the X1-Alpha could do certain things: I spent a lot of my time seeing if it could scale particular heights, or get to out-of-reach areas by transforming to what I call its “Hot Pursuit” mode and riding across a ramp like a Hot Wheels car. Even when unsuccessful, the ability to venture into this world and learn through trial and error really reinforces the idea that you’re some rookie pilot just making it day to day. Plus the game was narrated by your humorous, sexy operator, who guided you and provided info during Crime War events.
Upgrades were plenty: spread out through the levels, some ammo/shields caches were obvious (and a few not so much). Also with each successful mission you survive (and believe me, they can be challenging) you’ll be given a selection of weapons to unlock in which you can tailor your mech to your tastes. You may start the game with guns, rockets, and a mortar launcher, and end the game with a flamethrower, concussion beam, and plasma flare.
Level design was very solid, providing a variety of locations modeled after L.A. landmarks (like Venice Beach) and a great mix of platforming, action and puzzle gaming elements. For instance, an X1-Alpha pilot may find him or herself battling against a legion of drones on the ground, an onslaught of bazooka-armed humans on a roof, and missile-launching ships in the air. After returning the attack (or evading them) a pilot may run into an area where they can see (through the somewhat top-down view) an ammo cache nearby, but can’t get to it yet. Finding a path may lead a pilot through some wall-mounted turrets and a toxic pit to get across, and a control panel to destroy. This may lead to a downed barrier that gives your pilot access to an elevator that takes you to the roof of a previously inaccessible building with the cache on top, and leads you into another barrage of enemies to face. But don’t fret; levels were well-paced, with moments to breathe and B.S., and moments full of frenzied soldiers, airships, and scientists who weaponize Park Observatories into doomsday devices.
Yeah. Random as hell, but largely satisfying.
Plus, there’s explosions! And lots of them!
Something that made Future Cop L.A.P.D. stick out was that much of the gameplay centered around both cooperative and competitive multiplayer. Either mode—“Crime War” (Story Mode) or “Precinct Assault” (Competitive Multiplayer)—can be played alone, but the addition of an actual person, like many games, drastically changes the scope of either mode in a variety of ways.
In Crime War, players follow the same rather zany story in an effort to clean up the city, just with a partner (complete with a cool black version of the X1-Alpha). They’re tasked with piloting the X1-Alpha’s through the same obstacles, traps and enemies, butwith a catch: both players share the same lifebar. No explanation is ever really given for this, but this ramps up the difficult tenfold. Sure you have double the firepower against the same amount of enemies. But if either pilot is not a team player (literally), this could lead them into danger that puts both pilots in jeopardy. This forces (or encourages, depending on how you look at it) cooperation on each player’s part that regardless of either player’s playstyle, they will have to eventually work together. There’s no “I” in team, after all, but there is one in “demise.” And players will face demise quite a lot if they don’t believe in cooperation (in which there is also an “I”).
In “Precinct Assault,” players are given a red or blue territory that they must defend, while trying to take over their opponent’s base. Players have the ability to take over gray (neutral) zones, complete with with outposts and turrets, and turn them into automatic weapons against their enemy; players also have the ability to take over enemy territory, although it takes a little longer. Players can purchase Hovertanks that seek out the enemy base to do heavy damage; call out defensive helicopters and flying fortresses; and most importantly, call out a Dreadnought to invade enemy territory and win the match. With all this in mind. players still pilot their very own X1-Alpha mech and have a selection of weapons at their disposal, while exploring five different precinct levels with varying degrees of difficulty. There’s even a secret level where everything is modded with a weird bug theme (though this is unlockable solely through singleplayer).
Future Cop L.A.P.D. was not a perfect experience, but for its time it was a great way to lose a few hours in a crazy, challenging action game with a crazy, fun story. No matter which mode you play, Crime War or Assault Precinct, and whether you play it singleplayer or multiplayer, Future Cop L.A.P.D. was, and still is, definitely worth your time and worth a few dollars from your wallet. Check it out.
Infinite Ammo gives Future Cop L.A.P.D.:
explosions out of 5.