L.A Cops is a top down action shooter, you control a pair of cops as they pew pew through buildings full of dastardly criminals.

This preview was written on the 20th September 2014.

This isn’t an awkward post-gamergate disclosure, but more a sign of my exasperation with the developers rapid update cycle. I keep trying to cap off the preview on LA cops when Steam notifies me that there’s new LA Cops content. It’s hardly a serious complaint though, and it’s great to see the developer working hard to push through the early access cycle.

Despite the updates, there’s two parts of L.A cops that have stayed the same. The first is the aesthetic. This game is one day away from retirement and everything from the music, the art style and the horrendous mustaches screams 70’s buddy cop show. This dose of context gives L.A Cops a sense of style and evokes images of Starsky and Hutch and the Sabotage music video.


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This aesthetic has informed the game design too: that buddy cop trope of barrelling into an apartment block with your partner in tow has become the games most memorable mechanic:  you control two separate cops, with your AI buddy putting down covering fire for you whenever you’re not controlling them.

The second is the lightening fast and brutal gameplay, mixing equal parts Hotline Miami and Swat 2. Death comes in an instant, and retries are common as you come to grips with the game. It’s not as unforgiving as it appears, especially when you’ve started to upgrade your favourite cops, giving them better guns, more ammo and a greater resistance to bullets, your fatal weakness. There’s a lot of smaller touches that add a lot to the firefights; destructible environments and persistent bodies aren’t the biggest features but I found some joy in looking over the carnage as I made my way to the exit of the level, à la Hotline Miami.

Even at this stage the gameplay is solid. I like the challenge, and I’ve found myself setting little goals to make replays more interesting. Giving players a choice of which two 70’s cop cliches they want to play and pairing that with the upgrade system means you can quickly find yourself attached. It feels almost feature complete but I’d like to see what else they pull out of the bag before they shed the early access label.

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It’s not perfect, but they are working on it. Many issues I encountered during my initial playthroughs have already been addressed.

I still have some concerns. The hitboxes are far from perfect and occasionally a melee strike or bullet will just fail to connect. It’s rare, but when death is so easy, it’s really important that you can rely on your actions behaving in the same way each time.

Weapons still feel a bit disappointing at the moment. I rapidly found the M16 to be my favourite but the muted crack as it fires is just uninspiring, besides the difference in rate of fire I found them to be fairly interchangeable.

My main worry is the lack of content. There’s 5 levels in the game currently, and the menu gives space for 9. I’m not sure how many levels will be in the finished game. As it stands I can play through all of the levels in around 45 minutes. There’s plenty of replayability but I’d still prefer more levels.

I’m always wary of recommending games in early access. There’s a lot here that isn’t set in stone but I feel for the £9 the game is currently asking for you’ll find something to enjoy.

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