You know a game has some problems when it doesn't even seem to get its name right. After all, Cops 2170: The Power of Law sounds like it's missing a word or two. The Power of Law? Is that like Huey Lewis' "The Power of Love"? Unfortunately, the title is the least of this Russian-designed game's problems, as it is all downhill from there. Cops 2170 is a game that's obviously inspired by X-Com and other classic turn-based tactical games. However, it falls far short of the bar set by X-Com. This is one of the worst turn-based tactical games in quite a while, thanks to bad gameplay, horrendous storytelling, lackluster graphics, and more.
In Cops 2170, you'll battle crime syndicates, evil corporations, and yes, even evil clowns and giant candles.
Cops 2170 is the story of Katy, a young police academy graduate out to tackle a corrupt and dangerous world. You control Katy, as well as the members of the squad she recruits, as they battle crime in both the upper and lower parts of the futuristic city that they protect. One of the few interesting features in the game is the branching storyline, which lets you decide which factions you want Katy to assist. Do you assist the corrupt cops? Then again, are they really corrupt? Katy's naÃ¯ve outlook on the world opens up some interesting questions as to who you can really trust. However, this glimmer of interesting potential is wasted, as it doesn't take long after the first mission for the plot to collapse in a convoluted mess involving mutants, evil corporations, corrupt cops, bloodthirsty robots, evil clowns, gun-toting giant rats, and more.
And no, we're not making any of that up. Part of the story's problem is that it relies on so many tired clichÃ¯s...but a bigger issue is that the game is poorly written, poorly translated from Russian, or, most likely, both. The dialogue is awkward and clumsy, and the delivery by the voice actors is almost painfully bad at times. Aside from all the tedious exposition between missions, which is needed to try to explain the plot, the in-combat dialogue includes gems such as, "I am fragile and vulnerable, so be tactful or I'll break your hands." Be prepared to hear that, and other such lines, over and over again.
At the heart of any turn-based tactical game is the combat, and this is also an area where Cops 2170 is sorely lacking. It's just simply bad, especially compared to other recent turn-based tactical games. It's as if the underlying game mechanics go against convention and common sense. For example, the fog of war limits what you can see to what your characters can see, which is standard for this genre. However, the execution of fog of war will frustrate and confuse you. Each of your characters has an extremely narrow cone of vision, so enemies and objects keep popping in and out of sight, almost haphazardly. The fog of war is also inconsistent in that you can always see some objects (such as "parked" vehicles) while similar objects (such as vehicles that you can control) disappear if you turn your back on them. There are also artificial limitations in the fog of war, most notably of which is your character's vision. Each character has various attributes, such as strength, agility, and vision, all of which can be upgraded over time. Vision is important because it determines how far your character can see. However, even on a perfectly flat battlefield where you should be able to see to the horizon, your vision is still limited and you won't be able to see your enemies until they come into your vision range. It's a contrived limitation that is a particular issue at the beginning of the game when you have low-level characters with short vision ranges. By the time you detect the enemies, they're going to be all over you.