Acclaim Entertainment (PS2, PAL)
|Composer(s)||Kentaro Koyama (Arcade)|
Tatsuya Kozaki (Saturn, PC)
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Saturn, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2|
|Genre(s)||Light gun shooter, |
First-person rail shooter
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
|Arcade system||Sega Model 2|
Virtua Cop (バーチャコップ, Bācha Koppu) (known as Virtua Squad for the North American Windows version) is a 1994 light gun shooter game developed by Sega AM2 and designed by Yu Suzuki. It was originally an arcade game on the Sega Model 2 system, and was ported to the Sega Saturn in 1995 and Windows in 1997. The Saturn version included support for both the Virtua Gun and Saturn mouse, as well as a new "Training Mode" which consists of a randomly generated shooting gallery.
Virtua Cop was notable for its use of real-time 3D polygon graphics with texture mapping, with Sega advertising it as "the world's first texture mapped, polygon action game". Emphasizing the real-time nature of the game, enemies would react differently depending on where they were shot. It was one of the first games to allow the player to shoot through glass. Its name derived from this graphical style, which was previously used in Virtua Fighter, Virtua Striker and Virtua Racing.
Despite some initial skepticism over its introduction of 3D polygons in a genre that previously used realistic digitized sprites (most notably Lethal Enforcers), Virtua Cop went on to become a commercial success and received critical acclaim for enhancing the genre with its 3D graphics, camera system, realistic animations, and ability to target specific body parts with realistic consequences. It was influential on later shooter games, with 3D polygons being adopted by subsequent light gun shooters such as Time Crisis (1995) and The House of the Dead (1997) instead of the digitized sprites previously used in the genre, as well as inspiring the first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 (1997).
Virtua Cop was followed by Virtua Cop 2 and Virtua Cop 3. The game was later bundled with Virtua Cop 2 in Japan and Europe on the PlayStation 2 as Virtua Cop: Elite Edition (Virtua Cop Rebirth in Japan) on August 25 and November 29, 2002 respectively. It included gallery extras and implementation of Namco's G-Con 2 lightgun support. In 2004, a port was developed for the handheld Nokia N-Gage, but was cancelled by the quality control team before its release. Very few beta units of the N-Gage version were manufactured.
Players assume the role of police officers - either Michael Hardy, or his partner, James Cools. Played in a first-person perspective, players must use a light gun (or a joypad in the Sega Saturn version) to shoot criminals and advance through the game. Players begin the game with a reloadable chamber of six bullets and a set number of lives. Taking enemy fire causes the player to lose a life; power-ups can be shot to grant the player a special weapon or even an extra life. There are also civilians that the player must not harm during the stage. If the player hits a civilian, the player loses a life. The special weapon will be lost if the player takes damage, but not if he shoots a civilian. Players can score extra points for "justice shots" (disarming an enemy without killing them, done by shooting their hand) and "bullseyes" (shooting the center of the target circle).
A detective in the player's department uncovers an illegal gunrunning operation and traces it back to a powerful crime syndicate named E.V.I.L. Inc. He compiles a large amount of evidence and is ready to take them down, but he is discovered and assassinated. Some of the evidence manages to make its way back to headquarters and a special task force is put on the case. The policemen Michael "Rage" Hardy and James "Smarty" Cools must face that organization led by Joe Fang and his followers Kong, the King, and the Boss.
A division of Sega AM2 began work on the Saturn version in April 1995. Along with the Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2, it was one of the first games to make use of the Sega Graphics Library operating system. Head developer Takashi Osono said: "We are trying to keep to the quality of the arcade. If three of us agree for improvement, then we try to modify the graphics".
In June, the team displayed a playable demo of the Saturn version's first level at the Tokyo Toy Show. They subsequently began work on the third level, since it was the most difficult to convert due to the large polygon areas of the office building walls and ceiling.
In other games
- Sega Superstars Tennis features a minigame based on Virtua Cop called Virtua Squad.
- The default gun, the Guardian, can be used in Ghost Squad; however, it can only be obtained by playing the IC Card or Evolution versions.
- Tiger Electronics made a version of Virtua Cop for the R-Zone.
|Sega Saturn Magazine||96%|
|Game Players||Best Shooter|
In Japan, Game Machine listed it on their November 1, 1994 issue as being the second most-successful upright/cockpit arcade cabinet of the month. It went on to become the highest-grossing dedicated arcade game of 1995 in Japan.
The arcade game received generally positive reviews from critics. Tim Davis of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a positive review, praising the polygon graphics, the zooming camera "that takes you all over" the place, the "automatic target sighting which pinpoints" enemies, and the weapon power-ups. Computer and Video Games also gave it a positive review, calling it "a classy title" and praising the 3D graphics, "excellent" animation, weapon power-ups, and the gameplay in both single-player and multiplayer modes. Games World magazine called it an "excellent fun" game, comparing it favorably with Operation Wolf, Lethal Enforcers, and Reservoir Dogs, while Dave Perry said the Virtua Fighter like 3D targets made it a "more challenging and satisfying" shooter.
There was initially some skepticism over its introduction of 3D polygons in a genre that previously used realistic digitized sprites, most notably Konami's Lethal Enforcers. Next Generation initially gave Virtua Cop a mixed review in 1994, stating that Sega were "recklessly applying new technology to games that don't need it" but that "if players were given a chance to freely explore their mapped-out environments, this game would be a winner, but as it is, Virtua Cop is just an old game with a new gimmick". Next Generation later revised their views, praising its use of 3D technology to introduce the ability to target specific body parts with realistic consequences, which "totally eliminates the hit or miss polarity of other light-gun games and adds a whole new level of detail to the genre".
The Saturn version received positive reviews from critics. Next Generation gave it a positive review, applauding the impeccable accuracy of the port, but opted not to give it the full five stars they awarded to the Saturn's other two arcade ports of that month (Virtua Fighter 2 and Sega Rally Championship), as they found that the game, while sufficiently long for an arcade game, was too short for a home console release. Game Informer's Reiner, Andy, and Paul gave the Saturn version scores of 8.5, 8.25 and 7.5 out of 10, praising the game as one of the best in its genre but noting that it lacked longevity for a console release.
Rad Automatic of Sega Saturn Magazine said of the Saturn version: "It's got more depth than you'd imagine but is still mindless enough to be frenetically playable." He praised the effectiveness of the joypad control with its two cursor movement speeds, the authentic arcade feel when playing with two Virtua Guns, and the realism compared to other light gun games: "You don't see thousands of enemies popping up from behind exactly the same barrel ... In fact, you won't see enemies popping up from barrels at all that much, as your foes arrive on screen in far more interesting ways".
All four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly praised it as a flawless conversion of the arcade game, though half of them also remarked that they felt the game itself is too short and lacks lasting appeal. Scary Larry of GamePro praised the realistic and stylish graphics and the Virtua Gun action. Similarly to EGM's reviewers, he remarked that the game is a near-perfect arcade port but too short and completely lacking in replay value, though he nonetheless gave it an overall recommendation. Maximum instead argued that the game is compelling enough to be played over and over again despite the lack of replay value. They also described the Saturn conversion as nearly identical to the arcade original, and remarked that the mindlessness and simplicity of the game make it particularly enjoyable.
Game Players gave the Saturn version of Virtua Cop the award for "Best Shooter" of 1995, calling it "beyond entertaining — it's therapeutic." In 1996, Next Generation listed the Virtua Cop series (which then consisted of just Virtua Cop and the arcade version of Virtua Cop 2) at number 82 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", praising the skill and realism invoked by the enemies' differing reactions to being shot in different places.
Time Soete of GameSpot said the PC version is jerkier than the Saturn version and less intense without the use of a light gun, but that the mouse control is surprisingly smooth and that it retains enough of the fun of the arcade and Saturn versions to appeal to newcomers to the game. Next Generation voiced similar criticisms: "It's noticeably slower on the majority of PCs than in the arcade or on Saturn, running at speed only on the most high-end Pentiums. Worse, played without a light gun using only the mouse, the game loses a major part of its appeal..." They concluded that the game felt out of place on PC.
Virtua Cop was a major influence on both light gun shooters as well as first-person shooters. When it was released in 1994, the game broke new ground by introducing the use of 3D polygons to the shooter genre. Some of the popular rail shooters influenced by Virtua Cop include the Time Crisis series, The House of the Dead series, various Resident Evil spin-offs, and Dead Space: Extraction.
Virtua Cop was also the primary influence on the seminal first-person shooter GoldenEye 007, which was originally envisioned as an on-rails light gun shooter akin to Virtua Cop before it ended up as an off-rails first-person shooter. According to creator Martin Hollis: "We ended up with innovative gameplay, in part because we had Virtua Cop features in a FPS: A gun that only holds 7 bullets and a reload button, lots of position-dependent hit animations, innocents you shouldn’t kill, and an aiming mode. When you press R in GoldenEye, the game basically switches to a Virtua Cop mode. Perhaps more importantly following the lead from Virtua Cop, the game was filled with action. There was lots to do, with very few pauses".
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