by Matthew Bishop
reviewed on NDS
C.O.P. The Recruit is a ‘reversed roles’ version of Grand Theft Auto where you are not playing the criminal but the cop. It may be too much of a stretch to say it is a complete clone but there are certainly similarities between these two games. Ubisoft created an open world game that moves at 60 frames per second with virtually no load times at all. Furthermore, it features superbly modeled characters and buildings for what the DS can produce. These things caught my interest, despite the uninspired title. C.O.P. is an acronym for Criminal Overturn Program, a reform type of program that is designed to turn the bad guys into cops, which is never entirely explained by the game.
You are ‘the recruit’, Dan Miles, a reformed street racer who through C.O.P. becomes a detective working to protect New York against major threats. His mentor, detective Brad Winter, is investigating a series of terrorist attacks against the city when he is falsely imprisoned. Dan goes undercover in attempt to stop an attack against the city with catastrophic proportions.
The brightest point is easily the visuals. The game boasts some of the best graphics the DS has seen ever with a fully 3D world that can be explored freely. You can tell that the development team put a lot of time into creating the graphics: the buildings, vehicles, and character models all look superb. No matter whether you are in a high speed car chase or in a fight with a large number of enemies, the frame rate never noticeably drops. So while the graphics can’t compare to something you might see on the PSP, C.O.P. The Recruit gives most other DS games on the market a run for their money.
Unfortunately the gameplay mechanics do not fare as well as its graphics. For example, there is little to no tactic involved during combat. Often the best thing to do is to go into a room guns blazing and hope that you hit the enemies. If you take too long aiming, you are probably already dead. Driving is a mixed bag. At times it is great but at others it can be annoying as hell. The main problem lies in the turning of corners. No matter what speed you are at, it is near impossible to perform a decent turn.
Finishing the game means completing various missions and often this involves competing against a timer. If you beat the mission within the allotted time you receive an award that is comparable to achievements in your average console game. This system works well most of the time but fails when you are forced to retry a mission. Instead of simply restarting from the beginning of the mission, the game puts you at a random point in the city from which you must find your way back to where the mission started. If you can’t reach the mission trigger – and – finish the mission in time, the whole process repeats itself again. You can imagine how annoying this will get after a while.
The game will award you with a number of bonus missions which usually involve ramming a car throughout a chase or clumsily running into a room and shooting wildly hoping to hit something. They prove difficult due to the poor car controls and the lack of tactical gameplay mechanics mentioned earlier.
With absolutely no voice acting, low grade music and very poor effects, the sound in C.O.P. The Recruit is a real letdown. Worse, most of the music consists of random loops that become repetitive quite soon.
Gasping for air
Playing C.O.P. The Recruit one can’t help wondering what could have been. The strong graphics remain unsupported by the rest of the game, making it feel as if they are the shell of a powerful engine with nothing inside. It was like driving a car with the body of a Lamborghini but the engine of a John Deere tractor. Thus, what could have been a competitor for Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is left gasping for air in the dust and smoke of its own flaws.
The best graphics the DS has ever seen.
Little to no tactic involved during combat.