Characters are very fragile. One or two shots will kill them outright. While this is true for both the Cops and most of the enemies, it still can be quite annoying. What makes this hair-pullingly bad is the line-of-sight factor of the game. Each character has “sight” as one of their statistics, determining exactly how far ahead they can see the enemy. In a very contrived game mechanic, this sight distance is laughably short. Across a clear parking lot, probably less than 20 yards away and wide open, the enemy can wait undetected. Even if my characters were all armed with sniper rifles, technically able to pick off a target at 1.5 miles, they would still be surprised by the thug that was standing right in front of them. And since characters with left-over movement points will take incredibly lethal shots at the first enemy that crosses into their view, the outcome of most of the battles is determined by which of the myopic opponents first sees the other. Even if a character is missed or somehow survives the “ambush” from the open, they may very likely still be unable to see the man, with the bazooka, standing a block away.
There is a wide variety of weapons available, so a bit of amusement is had in trying out the various pistols, rifles, rocket launchers, and energy weapons. Each weapon has a few different accuracy settings, requiring different expenditures of action points. In addition, there are a lot of different types of ammunition for many of the gun models, so mixing and matching to get the best stopping power is an option. My most effective tactic, however, was to simply hand everyone a sniper rifle and hopefully see the enemy before they caught wind of me. Most of the other weapons were ineffective at anything other than close range, so I was never able to survive long enough to bring them to bear.
The characters are a mixed bunch, ranging from crooked cops to honest soldiers to anthropomorphic rats. Each can be customized and improved a bit upon gaining experience, much like an RPG. Points are allotted to the different traits, such as strength, sight, and accuracy. In addition, various implants are available to boost stats, give some protections against different types of attack, or provide healing bonuses. Each character is under complete player control, except for those annoying times an enemy walks into view. If they have any action points left, they’ll take a shot at the enemy regardless of whatever might be between them and the target. I’ve had to reload countless times when someone at the back of my party let loose with a burst of automatic weapon fire, taking out two or three of my own guys. This brain-dead AI isn’t limited to the player-controlled characters, however.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen AI this poor in this sort of game. Neutral and enemy characters will wander aimlessly during their turn, shoot their own allies while targeting enemies, and will blindly rush into withering enemy fire. In several missions there are other Cops controlled by the computer, and I died at their hands due to “friendly fire” almost as often as I was killed by the enemy. It got to the point I’d just sit at the starting point of a mission, hitting the “next turn” button until all of the “friendlies” were dead and it was safe to get into the fight.
The graphics are pretty good, although the camera control is a bit annoying, as it resets itself to the default zoom and angle each time you switch views from character to character. Most of the sound effects and music are decent. However, the voice acting and dialogue is some of the worst I’ve heard. The writing was translated poorly to English, and the actors didn’t help one bit. Most of the dialogue is wooden, confusing, and unintentionally funny. I found the rat character very amusing, but even he became annoying before long. There is a thin plot tying all the missions together, and it’s possible to take sides with various factions at certain points in the game, providing a replay value for those that really want it. I can’t see myself diving back into this one to see it from the other side, however.
I just can’t recommend Cops 2170 to anyone. I’d be able to overlook the weak plot and acting if there were a decent game in there to back it up. However, due to frustrating game mechanics and tedious play, I’m not able to drum up any enthusiasm over this title. Just leave this one sitting on the shelf.
A disappointing foray into turn-based squad tactics. Some unfortunate game mechanics make this a frustrating, tedious chore to work through. Only the most masochistic squad-based tactics fans need apply.
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