Cops 2170: The Power of Law PC CD-ROM

Published by DreamCatcher Games
Developed by MiST Land
Release Date: 25th February 2005
Price: £19.99

On the PC it’s not often that we get to look at a turn-based strategy title. All too often these days the main turn-based games are designed for the consoles (usually PlayStation 2). Thankfully titles like the Civilization games can still be enjoyed on the PC but if you’re looking for tactical turn-based strategy games with some RPG elements you’ll be hard pressed to find a handful of quality titles that have been released in the last few years (only Silent Storm springs to mind). Can Cops 2170: The Power of Law be one of these rare titles? Let’s take a look.

The game puts you in the shoes of a young woman, Katrin (known as Kati) who has just graduated from the police academy. This isn’t an ordinary police academy though as the game is set in the future and you’re situated on Mars. Welcome to the future then but it’s not a future that anyone of us wants to see. This is a future where the government have a rather unhealthy control over society. People have microchips embedded into them which allows the government to keep control over them. Kati, just out of the academy, expects the world to be a black and white situation with the good guys on the one side and the bad guys on the other. It soon becomes obvious that it’s not that easy though and things that seemed clear cut are anything but that.

Cops 2170 tries hard to be a futuristic Jagged Alliance. In some ways it does a good job of this but ultimately it’s not as satisfying and those expecting a game to rival the Jagged Alliance series will be ultimately disappointed that Cops 2170 isn’t up to the same standard. The basic mechanics of the game are solid and anyone who’s played a game of this nature will feel at home almost immediately. The game contains 13 levels, 60 weapons, 60 NPC’s and a whopping 200 quests all set in a non-linear story. The RPG elements are all here too and it’s good to see that you can control up to 8 characters at a time in battle. The battles do seem on a larger scale (the environments within the game are very large) than I would have expected too. The battles themselves do seem to be dynamic and having played through some a couple of times, different things happened which does give added replay value.

Another source of disappointment is that the characters lack charisma and don’t have that personality that they had in the Jagged Alliance games. Actually that’s the games biggest problem, it lacks personality. The essential ingredients are all there but it just doesn’t have the personality to keep your attention like the Jagged Alliance games had. Of course ‘personality’ isn’t a tangible quality and the next persons view will differ from mine but in my opinion Cops 2170 lacks character and doesn’t provide enough interest to keep you coming back for more.

What I will say though is that if this is your first taste of the genre, then it will leave you feeling very confused. The game makes no attempt to break you in with a tutorial. It feels like you’ve started playing the game half way through and that’s a big mistake to make when releasing the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often. We didn’t get to see the game manual so I don’t know if that provides some information for beginners but the game itself does little to make things easier if you’re unaware of what’s going on. Newbies will wonder what’s going on in battles as every action such as crouching, moving or using a weapon, uses up AP and whilst this will be second nature to many of those playing this kind of game, first timers will get confused very quickly indeed.

One key difference between the Jagged Alliance games and Cops 2170 is that whilst the Jagged Alliance games where in 2D, Cops 2170 is in full 3D. Initially this might seem like a good thing and indeed it should be but it’s actually more annoying than useful. To start off with the 3D engine isn’t that impressive to look at. This wouldn’t be a problem but it doesn’t run very smoothly either, even on an ATi X800XT graphics card, which is disappointing. Sure the game has a few shiny textures here and there but on the whole the game looks like it was made from a 3D engine that’s at least 4 years old. One advantage of the game being in 3D is that you have a first person mode. Again though this is pretty pointless as it adds little to the gaming experience. The first-person view feels limited and a last minute addition to the game. Engage in a conversation and the camera swings back to an overhead view. You can’t see as much as you can in the standard view and moving around is definitely a slower experience. Some gamers will probably find it a novelty for a while but many will try it once and never use it again.

There’s a lot of speech in Cops 2170, far more than you might expect. Aside from the character conversations your comrades will converse with each other. NPC characters will continually chat away and communication seems never ending at times. Very little of this is subtitled. Conversations between Kati and other characters are subtitled but other speech isn’t subtitled. Text is shown in dialogue boxes that you have to click to dismiss. The cutscenes aren’t subtitled either which is unfortunate. The game has plenty of other text information in your journal and you are notified in text when this has been updated. There aren’t any captions and again it would have been good to have seen them included.

Your opinion of Cops 2170 will largely depend on what your expectations for the game are. If you’re a veteran of the Jagged Alliance series and expect a title of the same caliber then you will be disappointed that Cops 2170 falls short. People who haven’t experienced the Jagged Alliance games might be more forgiving and at £19.99 it’s certainly not a bad buy. However given that you can pick up Jagged Alliance 2 and it’s stand alone expansion for £9.99, that might be a better place to start. The lack of a tutorial in Cops 2170 is a major oversight and might be off-putting for those whose first taste of the tactical RPG (sometimes called sRPG) genre is Cops 2170. There certainly have been better titles in the genre and Silent Storm was one game that we looked at last year which definitely offers a lot more to newcomers to this genre.

Overall Game Rating: 6.8/10

Cops 2170: The Power of Law is definitely a game that shows a lot of promise but a rather basic 3D engine coupled with characters that lack personality and no tutorials mean that it’s difficult to recommend to anyone other than fans of the genre. However even these gamers will be hard pressed to say it compares well with Silent Storm and Jagged Alliance games (not to mention the old X-Com games).

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click here for details)

There’s a lot of speech that isn’t subtitled in the game. Fortunately though most of this doesn’t matter and the information you need to get through the game is shown in text. That’s not to say it doesn’t spoil some of the atmosphere for deaf gamers though.