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Virtua Cop

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Released: 1995

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Saturn

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Submitted by: Damian Butt

One of my favourite genres which has recently seen a return to form (thanks to the Wii) is the lightgun game. Back in 1995 the home version of the arcade hit Virtua Cop appeared on the Saturn and I was instantly hooked.

The concept should be pretty familiar to anyone that has played a lightgun game before, the camera moves around on a fixed path and players are tasked with picking off the bad guys before they get a chance to shoot back. Prioritising targets was made easier by the colour coded markers which would highlight how close to firing enemies were, a green marker meant you still had time while a red marker meant you best get a wriggle on!

The thing that distinguished Virtua Cop from previous lightgun games was the use of 3d environments and characters. Enemies also responded differently depending on where you shot them (for bonus points you could disarm them by shooting the gun out of their hands). Players could temporarily upgrade their standard pistol with a variety of weapons including machine guns & shotguns, but you couldn't be too trigger happy due to the white clothed hostages running around which had to be avoided.

The game itself was relatively short with no additional levels added from the Arcades original 3 and enemy routines were fixed so after a while you would know where enemies were going to pop up. However the replay value was high, particularly with two players, or even better, two lightguns all to yourself!

As far as lightgun games go there are better examples (Virtua Cop 2 improved on the original in several areas such as multiple routes through levels) but the original Virtua Cop is still a classic and should definately be on any lightgun fans wishlist.