Six grizzled police, a whole heap of gun-totin' criminals and a bag of donuts. Welcome to LA Cops, the latest game from the minds that brought you Typing of the Dead and The Cat That Got the Milk.
LA Cops allows you to live out the fantasy of being a hard-bitten cop fighting against drugs and corruption in the seedy underbelly of one of America's seediest cities. Kicking down doors, smashing up drug tables and taking down bad guys with extreme prejudice is all part and parcel of an average day at the office. The only thing that's missing is a button that allows you to slide across the hood of your car, and I really hope they implement this feature in a later build.
Kowalski, Green, Katsuo, Murphy, Borland and Williams make up our team of hardy officers, although only two are selectable for any given mission. Playing it close to the stereotypes set forth in countless 70s and 80s cop show, Katsuo rocks a rollneck sweater and a medallion, Green rolls with a paunch and an offensive combover, Borland shows up with a sweet afro and a shotgun and Murphy catches hell from the boss for being the only woman on a male dominated force.
Grab your favourite two, and roll out for one of four (at the moment) missions. The missions range from a straight-up drug den bust to rescuing a broke hostage from the nefarious hands of kidnappers who don't know he's bankrupt.
The gameplay is quite similar to another feted indie game from recent years, but the isometric viewpoint and the two character angle switches it up to make it seem new and refreshing. Essentially, each cop has a range of view, and when not the selected character will be on overwatch, blasting the hell out of any punk unlucky to enter their line of sight. The active character is fully controlled by the player, and switching between the two is as simple as hitting the 'R' key. This permits all sorts of 70s cop show shenanigans such as positioning one cop at an angle to a door, and breaching with your second cop, tempting the bad guys to come running into your kill corridor. While your buddy cops start out with a pistol each, shotguns and Uzis can be collected from fallen foes. The thrill of blowing away a room full of dirtbags while delivering one-liners never gets old. Your performance in each mission is graded upon completion, meaning that replays are essential.
The art style is refreshingly bold and colourful, big on primary colours and open spaces, and in general the tone of the game harks back to those gloriously over the top buddy cop movies and shows that are rarely seen these days. Add in a fat Audioslave-esque rock-funk soundtrack and the pieces are all in place for a ridiculously fun time. I definitely had a lot of fun with the missions offered and it left me hankering for the full release!
There are still some rough edges to the game, as befits a game still in Early Access, but there's enough there that shows a lot of promise. Fans of Hotline Miami or Starsky and Hutch will definitely appreciate what the game is going for. You also get four songs from the soundtrack for picking it up now. If you fancy supporting this game through production, you can find more details here, and grab it on Steam here.