LA Cops is an isometric twin-stick shooter set in the background of 60s cop TV shows, its cheesy, light hearted, brutal and fun, the art style is simple with flat (not a criticism) looking surfaces, its minimalistic and really does well in conveying the era its representing.
There are 8 story missions with 5 side missions to complete, the levels are short and some can completed in 3-5 minutes on normal and hardcore with Nightmare taking a bit longer and needing more thought but in order to stand a chance you need to replay levels, get better scores and earn more XP to improve the stats of your team.
Replaying and retrying each level is a key part of the game and thats not a problem although I found I had to do a fair amount of grinding at the beginning to get my stats up before I felt I could really do well in the levels which seems a bit unbalanced.
The controls are simple but in the transition between the PC early access release and Xbox One I feel a big mistake has been make which makes them awkward and kind of bad. As you can see from the picture below the left and right d-pad buttons are left empty and this is where camera rotate needs to be, this is because when moving the right stick and using lock-on or call cop you cannot do it without possibly sacrificing your position and its awkward and seems like a major oversight. Moving them to the bumpers would be a lot better and make more sense as you can control the right stick still.
As a twin-stick controlled shooter it feels incredible imprecise when not using lock-on, this makes it seems more challenging than perhaps it needs to be particularly on Nightmare where I find its unforgiving because lock-on is disabled. This is obviously part of the challenge in the higher difficulty but I don’t think it transitions at all well to the player and just seems frustrating.
To get high scores, get a better grade and earn more XP from a level you need to arrest criminals and preferably not get hit or killed which is a big challenge and seems pretty impossible on nightmare where its one shot kill even with fully upgraded Cops which seems to make it pointless to increase their health if it doesn’t do anything on the highest difficulty.
I found you can quickly easily blast your way through on normal and hardcore with a sufficient amount of ammo and a quick finger on the X and right trigger combination, the game is certainly fun and enjoyable to get through but its not the experience I was hoping it would be and on nightmare it just seems like balance isn’t there between challenge and frustrating.
The AI can be strange at times too, when they are walking around in their preset patterns sometime they can get stuck on the environment and will continue walking into nothing until they either slide or until the player walks when they then run towards you and start a firefight.
There are 6 cops to choose from but I found it made more sense to pick two and just upgrade them, outside of an achievement for fully upgrading one cop there is no reason to do so for more than that and it seemed like it would be frustrating to do it and a massive grind. I picked Borland and Kowalski personally for no particular reason, at the beginning the characters have low stats but have 1 or two above the base line of 1 which can help make the decision but after a bit of play time it makes them irrelevant as you start to upgrade.
Looking at some other aspects of the game, the level designs are quite good, splitting enemies up between rooms, triggering enemy reactions by allowing them to hear you coming is a nice touch, as well as trying to flank opponents by entering cops from different doors.
Its a bit short from a unique content point of view which is a shame, there is some incentive with achievements to play again and get them all but with how frustrating I found nightmare I may not bother, perhaps some tweaks and content updates will make me come back. The story and music fit in well with the theme, the story also gives some purpose to why you’re doing specific levels but its not that exciting really, not that it needs to be.
LA Cops is a fun game, I do enjoy it but mostly because I could use the lock-on to help me, when the game requires you to use the free-aim of the right stick it feels a bit imprecise and gives you no room for error on nightmare which is one hit kill. This makes it frustrating but I feel the game isn’t that far off being very recommendable, I do like it, the style is fun and the gameplay isn’t bad or terrible, it just needs some work and more content to push it over the line for a recommendation.