Ah, The Future. If Cops 2170: The Power of Law is any indication, The Future is a very scary place to live. Corruption runs everywhere, mutants from Mars are lurking in the sewers below our very feet, giant talking rats have been armed with rocket launchers, and, due to pollution or poor lighting or something, everyone on the planet is near-sighted. Cops 2170 drags us, kicking and screaming, into this dark and dismal future. And places us in the boots of the most annoyingly optimistic and chipper police cadet I’ve ever seen. It only gets worse from there.
Cops 2170 is a turn-based squad-level combat game, similar to the Jagged Alliance series. And, as far as I can tell, the police of the year 2170 are no better than a group of mercenary thugs, because there’s no way to actually arrest the criminals. There are no handcuffs, although there are different types of “sublethal” weapons. From what I gather, the sublethal weapons are just there to incapacitate the criminals long enough to walk up and administer a much more permanent variety of incapacitation. Into this dark future walks Katy, a young cadet fresh out of the academy. The game starts on her first day, and she’s overwhelmed by the newness of it all.
I found myself to be a bit overwhelmed at the beginning of the game, too. There’s no tutorial or initial help from the game at all. It just dumps you into control of Katy, in the middle of the police station, with no idea what’s really going on. After several minutes of fumbling around with the controls, I managed to get Katy armed, rounded up a few friends, and stumbled onto my first mission. Rather than receiving orders from their commanding officers, the Cops of Tomorrow just wait around the station until someone interesting wanders by and asks “Hey, do you wanna quell a mob uprising in the bad part of town? It’ll be fun!”
The gameplay is standard fare for this sort of title. Each character has a certain allotment of action points to spend in a given turn. These points are used to move, shoot things, apply healing items, and pick stuff up off the ground. After everyone has spent all of their action points, the “next turn” button is pressed, and the neutrals and enemies take their turns. This repeats until one side or the other is dead. While I usually enjoy this sort of game, Cops 2170 managed to make this tried-and-true mechanic tedious and frustrating. One of my biggest complaints was the inability to leave turn-based mode, even if the only remaining enemy was on the far side of the map, and of no immediate threat. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by games that allow the action to proceed in real time until an enemy is sighted. But trudging, turn after turn, across the sometimes maze-like maps to hunt down the final criminal loses its appeal quickly.
The control scheme is fairly straightforward. Clicking on the map moves the character, clicking on the enemy causes the character to shoot if there are enough movement points left, etc. There are a few more buttons for running and crouching and the like, but for the most part it’s pretty easy to figure out. I had a few problems actually clicking where I wanted, and many times ended up with a character calmly walking toward the enemy rather than shooting them. This would have been frustrating if I hadn’t formed the habit of saving each and every turn, something that is vital to getting anywhere in this game.
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