Forgotten Gems: Future Cop L.A.P.D

Forgotten Gems: Future Cop L.A.P.D

If there’s one thing the ’90s loved, it was visions of the future…and Robocop. The Playstation played host to many visions of the future, most notably Wipeout, but there’s one game that stands out in my mind. It’s somewhat obscure, and looking back it was clearly inspired by Robocop‘s Ed-209, and it was full of cheesy charm and brainless action. Future Cop L.A.P.D remains one of the most mind-numbingly enjoyable titles on the Playstation that everyone has seemingly forgotten. But what if I told you the hugely popular MOBA genre has Future Cop to thank for its core rule-set?

Released in 1998, Future Cop L.A.P.D started life as an entry into the Strike series of games (Jungle Strike, Desert Strike etc), before becoming its very own standalone game. Developed by EA, Future Cop was a straight-laced third-person/top-down shooter which was all about big guns and even bigger explosions. Players were given control over the future of law enforcement, i.e. a large mech equipped with machine guns, missiles, and various other party tricks. Each mission played out in pretty much the same manner: go here, blow this up, and move on. It was repetitive to its very core, but my God was it fun.

 6240-10-future-cop-lapd

Even today there’s a sense of sheer joy that emanates from the game as its typically ’90s techno-infused score blasts out of the speakers. It’s disgustingly nostalgic but it’s fantastic at the same time. The sense of power the gameplay gifts its players in undeniably engrossing, even more so when taking on wave upon wave of foot soldiers. Future Cop doesn’t take itself too seriously either, as its goofy storyline and some wonderfully self-aware one liners demonstrate. The game may be silly but that doesn’t stop it from being brutally hard on occasion, to the degree that it’s easy to forget the times before quick saves and generous checkpoints. But each challenge comes with a sense of satisfaction to make the difficulty less problematic.

Future Cop has a surprising relevance, even today, thanks to its game mode known as Free Combat. This arena-based combat mode holds strong similarities to that of the MOBA genre, whereby players are given a based to defend and must attack the opposing player’s base with the support of AI units (much like minions) with victory going to the first player who invades their opposition’s base. There’s various nodes dotted around the map that can be captured and used as turret locations or additional spawn points for minions. Anyone familiar with MOBAs will be able to appreciate how ahead of its time the game was, and how incredibly well the game stands out to this day.

 precinct_assault_by_unexpectedtree-d6cvcj1

Future Cop has aged well, at least in terms of gameplay, though its visuals were never its strong point but they were by no means ugly so they, too, have survived well. There’s a ‘dirty future’ aesthetic to the game in the same vein as Judge Dredd for example, and it serves the game’s tone honorably. Future Cop is one of those games that remains in a by-gone era, often swept under the wave of other, more well-known PS One classics. The game’s original release was met with poor sales that spelled the end for the studio attached to it, so perhaps this is the primary reason for its relative obscurity.

Fun, stupid, and typically late ’90s, Future Cop L.A.P.D was and continues to be one of the lesser known PS One games that truly deserved more love and attention than it got. Strap in, turn off your brain, and enjoy the carnage.

 

Sean Halliday


5 Comments

  1. Justin Ross
    February 5, 2014, 1:57 am

    Oh man, this game. Oi oi

  2. Chris Conway
    July 26, 2014, 12:23 am

    Great write-up. Here’s some more info from someone who worked on it (I wrote the AI, the Precinct Assault mode support, and ported the game to the Mac):

    1. The MOBA-style Precinct Assault mode was added late in the development cycle by a designer (Steve Nix) and I in about a week. He wanted to make a bonus level with gameplay similar to the old Herzog Zwei game on Sega Genesis, but I thought it would be a good idea to use our main character (the X1 Alpha unit) as a participant. I added AI code for an opponent (Sky Captain) because I hated having to play in split-screen mode.

    2. The studio that created the game was at Electronic Arts’ San Mateo headquarters, and is still active (now known as Visceral Games).

    3. The game engine our team made for Future Cop was later used by several games developed by that team, including Nascar Rumble, Rumble Racing, Tiger Woods Golf 2003 and 2004, and Lord of the Rings – Return of the King.

    4. We had so much fun playing in this mode that I added network support to the Mac version so we could play against each other without having to use the split-screen mode found on the Playstation version.

    5. We hadn’t planned on releasing a PC version, but EA refused to allow us to release a stand-alone Mac version, so we ported it to the PC so we could release it as a PC/Mac hybrid.

    6. EA’s brilliant marketing department blew most of our advertising money on a giant robot for ComicCon, so there was almost zero money left for real advertising, so, predictably, sales were awful.

    • Sean Halliday
      August 10, 2014, 3:32 am

      Sorry for the late reply, only just got back to things!

      Was the marketing thing out of your hands entirely? I’ve always had beef with how they market (well, more how they don’t market) their new ip/ lesser known stuff

  3. Scott Wallace
    December 28, 2014, 9:33 pm

    This game consumed many hours of my childhood, both in the Precinct Assault and in the Crime War. I will love this game til the day I die, and there will always be a hope for another one, however bleak that may be.

  4. Kilimanjano
    September 27, 2016, 3:36 pm

    PLS MAKE A SEQUEL <3

Leave a Reply