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|Genre(s)||Light gun shooter,
First-person rail shooter
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
|Arcade system||Sega Model 2|
|Display||Raster, standard resolution
Virtua Cop (known as Virtua Squad for the North American Windows version) is a first-person lightgun shooter arcade game created by Sega AM2 and headed by Yu Suzuki. Its original incarnation was an arcade game in 1994 and it was later ported to the Sega Saturn in 1995 and Microsoft 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.
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, 2002 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 this was cancelled by the quality control team before its release. Very few beta units were manufactured.
Virtua Cop was notable for its use of real time polygonal graphics, which were subsequently used in both The House of the Dead and Time Crisis, instead of the two dimensional sprites and static backgrounds that were used in previous games in the same genre. 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.
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 to shoot criminals and advance through the game. Taking damage or shooting a civilian will cause the player to lose a life; powerups can be shot to grant the player a special weapon or even an extra life. However, that 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).
If a player loses all his lives, the game will be over unless he chooses to continue.
A detective in the player's department uncovers an illegal gunrunning operation and traces it back to a powerful crime syndicate named E.V.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 Hardy and James 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. Commenting on their approach to the conversion, 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
- A minigame in Sega Superstars Tennis is based on Virtua Cop, using the Wii Remote to shoot the crooks. However, it is referred to as Virtua Squad in-game.
- 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.
Virtua Cop received generally positive reviews from critics. Next Generation rated the Saturn version 4/5 stars, noting that the ability to target specific body parts with realistic consequences "totally eliminates the hit or miss polarity of other light-gun games and adds a whole new level of detail to the genre." They also applauded the impeccable accuracy of the port, but opted not to give it the full 5/5 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 plenty 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 8.5/10, 8.25/10, and 7.5/10, praising the game as one of the best in its genre but noting that it lacked longevity for a console release.
Reviewing the Saturn version, Sega Saturn Magazine gave the game a 96%, saying "It's got more depth than you'd imagine but is still mindless enough to be frenetically playable." They 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 strong 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 ..."
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a 7.5 out of 10 average, with all their reviewers praising it as a flawless conversion of the arcade game, though half of the reviewers also remarked that they felt the game itself was too short and lacked 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. They gave it 5 out of 5 stars.
GameSpot gave the PC version a 7.8, saying that it is jerkier than the Saturn version and a less intense experience 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.
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 heavily 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 dependant 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."
- "Virtua Cop Short Stories". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (2): 117. November 1995.
- Hickman, Sam (December 1995). "Call the Cops!". Sega Saturn Magazine (2). Emap International Limited. pp. 34–39.
- Guise, Tom (November 1995). "Cop a Load of This!". Sega Saturn Magazine (1). Emap International Limited. pp. 42–45.
- "Next Wave: Virtua Cop". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (78): 102–3. January 1996.
- "Stunning". Next Generation. Imagine Media. 2 (14): 162. February 1996.
- Reiner, Andrew; et al. (January 1996). "Rendered and Ready to Wear". Game Informer. Archived from the original on November 20, 1997. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
- "Review: Virtua Cop". Sega Saturn Magazine. Emap International Limited (2): 70–71. December 1995.
- "Review Crew: Virtua Cop". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (78): 40. January 1996.
- "ProReview: Virtua Cop". GamePro. IDG (89): 56. February 1996.
- "Maximum Reviews: Virtua Cop". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (3): 143. January 1996.
- Soete, Tim (December 4, 1996). "Virtua Squad Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Virtua Cop, IGN, July 7, 2004, Accessed Feb 27, 2009
- Martin Hollis (2004-09-02). "The Making of GoldenEye 007". Zoonami. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-12-22.