Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Ok, let’s begin!
Future Cop L.A.P.D. (FCL) is a third-person shooter/platformer and was developed by EA Redwood Shores, now known as Visceral Games since their Dead Space success. Indeed FCL was actually their first game for EA Studios who were just called Electronic Arts back in 1998. FCL was released on 01/09/1998 in Europe and, for the most part, received relatively good review scores. Most if not everyone associated with the game has gone on to other projects in the gaming world though I suppose that's no surprise once you joined a big company like EA Studios. For the sake of it though this game was produced by R.J. Berg who has gone on to produce a number of video game titles and in more recent times became a writer for the Alice: Madness Returns game so make of that what you will.
In the Game, you are a rookie no-named cop piloting one of the L.A.P.D. 's X1-Alpha Mechs. A Mech capable of transforming from a hover police pursuit vehicle to a full-blown heavily armed justice dispenser. As described in many of the cutscenes in the game the L.A.P.D. isn’t so much policing the streets as it's going to open war on large criminal syndicates that have taken over the city. Your job is to serve, protect and survive as you mow down waves of drugged up gangs, mutants, terrorists, cultists and mobsters each packing enough military tech to lay siege to a small country. So, strap yourself into your cockpit rookie and don’t die.
FCL is oddly quite easy to play, from a control perspective. Usually, when I play games of this 3D age it takes a good moment for me to adjust to the old idiosyncrasy of an unstandardised control scheme and a lack of analogue sticks. However, I found myself quite naturally coming to terms with the controls and I think, in no small part, that’s down to the fact that FCL is an action game. It’s not about necessarily been precise in your movements but dodging enemy fire and laying down a tremendous amount of firepower. It helps as well that hits from enemies will very rarely end you in one shot allowing some level of forgiveness and instead it tests your ability to pace yourself, just because there’s health to pick up doesn’t mean you need to take it now kinda thing. This, therefore, makes FCL a rather easy to pick up and play game, which is excellent as it has split-screen Coop and Vs modes.
FCL has quite a bit of replayability in its game with different level difficulties, different load-outs you can select before each mission to experiment with, Co-op and the second mode called Precinct Assault. Precinct Assault is sort of a tower defence arena game in which you pit your wits against the AI opponent, Sky Captain, or another Player. In this mode, you need to defend your base from the enemy whilst also assaulting his. In order to do this, you can purchase turrets, hover tanks, planes and secondary outposts to maximise your assault on the enemy. Watch out though as everything costs points and the enemy gains points with each kill, so you’ll need to defend those tanks with your Mech. In order to win all you need to do is get one hover tank into the enemy's base.
The levels and enemies in FCL are quite varied in their design as many of the levels have you traversing underground sections as well as walkways, aqueducts, rivers of blood and more. The enemies themselves are also very varied from your run of the mock human gangsters to your mechanical giant mutant super worms. This diversity is also established in the bosses that you have to take down in each stage so a good pro of FCL is that at the very least it doesn't try to bore you with copy-paste enemies.
Ok here’s the largest problem with FCL that I could find and that is the platforming. The platforming isn’t very terrible but it has some major flaws in that it’s clunky and repetitive especially if you fall off. It’s not so bad in the beginning when you’re on the occasional small walkway but later on, in the game, there are large stretches of areas that you have to traverse that are only as wide as you. On one occasion I had to actually restart the level because I got stuck when I fell down the wrong side of a wall leaving me in the starting area with no way out. There are also times when your Mech has to slowly and painstakingly traverse angled banks and edges to get to a switch or objective which I don’t get why there even here I’ve tried jumping and slowly walking up to them or hover mode and the results always the same I just have to keep slowly walking with my Mech and eventually it’ll reach the top. In fairness to the developers, they did put a careful walk mode in to make this easier but I still don’t think one platforming mistake should have me resetting the level, especially when I was able to get through the area before but now the gate won’t open no matter what I do.
Very rarely do I use vehicle mode on the X1-Alpha. In fairness, this could be just me stubbornly refusing to change to the hover vehicle mode and I did use it more in the Precinct Assualt. In the actual single-player game though I very rarely used the alternative mode and that’s mainly down to it been situational rather than using the improved speed. I found that most of the levels basically didn’t cater to this vehicle’s manoeuvrability. Instead, the levels are quite cluttered and claustrophobic as you fight between walls and buildings, or on ledges and roofs, because of this, I felt little need to change unless the game prompted me to do so. In the Precinct Assault mode, I found myself from time to time having to rush back and forth from the front line. This made changing into the hovercar more necessary as I found these maps to be easier to navigate at speed. However, it would have been nice to have more than one level in the single-player where the hovercar was more of a must over the standard Mech.
Nerd O Metre Rating
High 3 out of 5
I’m going to start probably with my biggest bias about the game. I am and have, in no uncertain terms, been an anime/manga fan. I got into the whole thing back in the mid to late 90’s with shows like Patlabor, Apple Seed, AD Police and Dominion Tank Police, as a result, the very premise of FCL is definitely something I’ve always enjoyed. There’s something about the old defeating the bad guys with big guns in a dystopian future that’s appealed to me for a long time. I suppose it comes down to the fact that usually, these stories have a heavy dose of tongue in cheek humour about themselves and FCL is no different in that regard. Most if not all the cutscenes have your character either doing something cornily badass or something straight up daffed and it really breaks up the chaotic blitz of heavy weapon warfare that you’ve just passed through. Do I recommend FCL? Yes, it’s a good bit of action fun for you and a friend to enjoy and as I say it’s very easy to pick up and play and does have quite a bit of variety, in my opinion. If you want something though with a bit more story or complexity then I don’t think this game is for you.