Blast From The Past
Fighting crime one mech at a time in Future Cop: L.A.P.D.
Before their horror shenanigans in the great void with Dead Space, developer Visceral Games was formerly known as EA Redwood Shores. Today the studio is sadly defunct with its remnants assumed into EA Vancouver and EA Montreal. In the days of Redwood Shores their first ever game release was Future Cop: L.A.P.D. – it was for PC and the original PlayStation console in 1998.
It was a third-person shooter with you piloting a state-of-the-art crime fighting robot designed to bring some much needed firepower to the so-called Crime War in Los Angeles that was raging by the year 2098. The X1-Alpha mech-like robot could transform between a more traditional looking pursuit vehicle, which also happened to hover because it’s the future, and the bipedal fully combat ready mech. It was an awesome premise and we followed all the story action in Crime War Mode.
Co-op cops – the buddy cop caper of your own making
What made things extra fun was that it supported co-op so you could take the fights to the streets of Los Angeles with a chum, and unload some impressive ordinance. Of course the gangs and criminal syndicates had their own arsenals of war to throw at you, which is why you’re on a neighbourhood beat in a freaking X1-Alpha designed for all-out war in the first place. You blast your way through the grunts in the story-driven mode before eventually coming to a boss fight. These could get quite tense because they usually had a nasty trick up their sleeve. Criminals don’t fight fair – the cheaters!
It wasn’t just the enemies shooting at you that proved a danger because the levels themselves could get lethal. There was some platforming involved as – unsurprisingly – a lot of the places you were fighting in weren’t exactly designed with police mechs in mind. One of the levels had you blasting into a prison because of a mass riot taking place that threatened to see all the inmates escape. The prison was designed to be quite a formidable fortress so you had your work cut out for you – not much time for jelly doughnut breaks.
Future Cop was MOBA before it was cool with the kids
It wasn’t just the single-player mode though because Future Cop: L.A.P.D. also featured Precinct Assault Mode, which was actually a MOBA ahead of its time. Essentially you would fight in an arena where you could capture strategic points to shore up defences as you took on another player in an X1-Alpha or the AI controlled Sky Captain, which had a flying fortress. Once you got enough defences up could then escort armoured hovertanks that would roll out from your base and travel along predetermined paths to overwhelm your opponent’s base and capture it.
Sadly Future Cop: L.A.P.D. did poorly in sales but it was at least positively received by critics at the time. Some reports claim it may have sold a mere 200k copies even though it launched for both PC and PlayStation. There never was a sequel to this little mech gem, and actually the entire project started out as a new title in the Strike series, which started with Desert Strike in 1992 and ended with Nuclear Strike in 1997.
Where to get Future Cop: L.A.P.D. today
This gets a little tricky because EA Redwood Shores’ first official game isn’t so ready for duty anymore. Not even Electronic Arts include Future Cop: L.A.P.D. as part of the Origin store as a classic PC title, like so many others in their back catalogue. The only place online to get it today is through the PlayStation Store as a PS One Classic title for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. You can still buy physical copies for PC and even the original PlayStation but they’re almost certainly used copies.