Genre : Strategy/RPG
Developer : Mist Land
Publisher : Strategy First
Release Date : TBA
Pre-order 'COPS 2170: Power of the Law': PC
God, I wish I spoke Russian! I have this feeling that the storyline of Cops: 2170 is really great! I can tell by the tone of the voices that something intensely cool is going on around me, but I am as clueless as Jessica Simpson taking the LSAT. You see, my press copy of this great-looking game is mostly in Russian. Luckily, the menus and all written stuff were translated, so I can tell you a bit more… Trouble is, it’s all in a literal translation, rather than a contextual translation, so the Russian phrase that would mean “Be certain to stay alert” comes out in English as “Always keep on clock”. In a way, it’s not unlike watching a foreign film with no subtitles. You absolutely get the gist of the situation, but the nuances evade you.
That tiny little gripe out of the way, I gotta tell you; COPS is game of which hell is one of. Or to put it more concisely and closer to vernacular, this is one hell of a game!
It seems that by the year 2170, we have not only colonized Mars, but it has become so populated it requires its own Police Force. The main city is comprised of three levels; Upper, Middle and Lower. These are physical levels in a gargantuan city, but also serve to connote socio-economic levels. The rich live in the penthouses and the poor inhabit the cellar.
You inhabit the character Kati, a young, beautiful police officer from a long line of police officers. She’s smart, sexy and tough. (Yeah, like a female character in a video game is going to be a stupid, obese coward. Although it might be worth a laugh to see Roseanne as Lara Croft in “Fridge Raider – Angel of Cellulite”.)
The game is played in a multitude of modes. When there are no threats in your immediate vicinity, the game plays in real time. You are free to move anywhere and interact with anything you choose without limitations. When an enemy (the definition of which can vary, depending on your current mission) is in such a position as to cause you or your squad harm, the game seamlessly switches to turn-based mode. So seamlessly, in fact, the first time it occurred, I thought the game had “bugged” on me. But closer inspection showed a succinct difference in the data around the cursor when I moved it to another location. Just keep an eye out on your AP’s (Action Points) and plan your moves in stages, according to your available AP’s. This is familiar to anyone who has ever played a board wargame.
For the uninitiated, this is a standard wherein the relative speed, toughness and rate of fire of a unit, be it an Armored Assault Vehicle, or a grunt with an M-16, is calculated into a single number of available points. Each action, be it movement, weapons fire, object use, or any combination therein expends action points. Your actual mileage may vary, see dealer for rebate information, offer not available in Patagonia, only honored by the Knights Templar of Lower Sandusky, Ohio. (Sorry, I realize that last sentence sounded like a disclaimer for Toyotathon 2109, but my sick sense of humor mandated that I continue).
Now, how much would you pay? Don’t answer, because COPS: 2170 is also a rich role-playing game! From the very first mission, you are presented with moral and ethical choices that can determine how your entire career will progress. These choices are not presented in a simplistic (yes) (no) format. Rather, your actions dictate your path. Friendly fire is not acceptable, although you are allowed a few mistakes. Enemies, civilians and even colleagues will try to coerce you to work for their cause. Corruption in the ranks makes trust a commodity to be valued. You can never tell who may be an informant for Internal Affairs, or on the other hand, a rogue cop only out for him(her)self. Will you follow the letter of the law, or choose a more mercenary path? COPS: 2710 gives you the freedom of choice, so replayability is slightly higher than your average hybrid game. And when push comes to shove, this is no ordinary hybrid.
At the outset, you are presented with specific goals to achieve. You need to assemble your squad from Police HQ, get your assignment, and move out into the city. Initially, you only have two other members in your squad, but you have complete control over their actions, inventory, and the like.
Rioting has broken out, and it’s the job of your squad to quell the rabble-rousers. You must take range, Action Points, weapon type, and ammo type into serious consideration when engaging the enemy. Many weapons have multiple fire modes, which are each pertinent to specific situations. Auto fire is great for cover and/or suppression. Burst fire mode is quick, but only slightly more accurate than full auto. The most deadly and therefore slowest mode is Aimed Fire. The interface is always helpful to make these choices, and they are easily implemented by an on-screen control panel.
This takes me to my next salient point: COPS is a very accessible game. I wish I knew who coined the phrase “Ten Minutes to Learn and a Lifetime to Master”. I first recall seeing it in connection with the black/white disc game “Othello”, and if truth be told it applies here. The manual mostly supplies the flavor of the game. The controls are all a click away on the screen, or programmable to hotkeys. Once you know which icon does what, you are in full control of your units.
Vehicles are almost immediately available to you as well. Not the great flying Blade Runner style cars yet, but civilian vehicles can be commandeered, and the Department’s robots are controllable by Kati and her squad.
Your squad members’ rank determines most everything, from the type of weapon, to how many officers can be controlled in a single squad. Each action rewards experience points which translate into promotions. Kati begins the game as a full sergeant and can choose from a variety of weapons, cameras, grenades, heat scanners, medpacks and the like. The aforementioned cameras can be tossed around corners to get a peek at what lies ahead, which is very handy since ambushes are a constant pain in the neck. Heat Scanners allow you to see through walls to view heat signatures of perps and cops alike, helping you avoid the nasty surprise of opening a door to find 5 guys with SMG’s bearing down on you.
The levels are immense, encompassing multiple floors and buildings. Keeping track of everything is a major concern, and slacking off while playing is simply not an option. The plot delves deeper and deeper, the bad guys get harder to take out, and your attention to detail is called upon at every turn.
As far as aesthetics are concerned, COPS is as nicely styled a game as there is. Graphics are sharp and clear, lighting effects are top drawer, and the robots are especially well designed.
The game play itself is deep, but never bogs itself down in its own rules system, making it a very playable game, while challenging even the hardest-core strategy gamer. I just can’t wait to find out what half of these people are saying!
In the final analysis, COPS: 2170 – The Power Of Law will without a doubt be on my “must-buy” list when it is completed and released.