Virtua Cop

Virtua Cop is a classic of the Genre. If you were getting into light gun games at the same time as me, you would have played this in the arcades and then on the Sega consoles of the day.

Its since been released on almost every platform which makes it nice and easy to play.

My favorite version is the Virtua Cop elite edition which includes Virtua Cop 1 and 2 on one disc.

You can see it in action on pcsx2 in the elite edition here.

The main systems that you could play this on are:

  • PC
  • PS2
  • Saturn
  • Arcade

Its also possible to play Virtua Cop 3 which is a far less well known version but really good to play. You can play it on the CXBX emulator.

Virtua Cop

In the gaming industry, there is always a game that is released that sets a new bar in a particular genre. When one looks at the light gun and rail shooter genre, a genre that is famous for throwing a huge number of enemies on screen for players to shoot, one game redefined the genre. 

This game is called Virtua Cop and it is a favorite for many people especially in 1994 when it was first released. It is an impressive light gun shooter that was designed by Yu Suzuki and created by SEGA. 

Virtua Cop Plot 

Illegal gun-running operation is uncovered by a detective in a police department where the lead protagonists work. Through further investigation, the detective discovers that E.V.I.L. Inc, a powerful crime syndicate is behind this illegal gun-running operation. 

After gathering enough evidence, the detective is ready to put a stop to this crime syndicate but he is killed before he has a chance to take them down. The evidence that he collected before his death makes its way to the police headquarters and the case is assigned to a special task force. 

Players take the role of two policemen named James “Smarty” Cools and Michael “Rage” Handy. It is up to them to face this crime syndicate which is led by Joe Fang and his associates the Boss, Kong, and the King.

Virtua Cop Gameplay

Players that are familiar with the lightgun genre will feel right at home with this title. The entire game is played from a first-person point of view with a camera that follows a fixed path.  

Players are required to shoot criminals using a light gun to progress. At the start of the game, players have a reloadable chamber that contains six bullets as well as some hit points. When a player(s) takes damage, they will lose their hit points. During the levels, players can shoot power-ups that grant extra hit points or a special weapon. 

Levels also have civilians which players must avoid at all cost as accidentally shooting them leads to losing hit points. Once a player has a special weapon, they will only lose it if they take damage but not when they shoot a civilian. 

Extra points are earned in two ways and one of them is through “justice shots” which can be performed by disarming criminals. They can be disarmed by shooting their hands and not killing them. The second way to earn extra points is through “bullseyes” and this where players shoot the center of a target circle. 

Knowing which target to shoot first is made easy by the color marker criminals have which show players how close an enemy is to firing their weapon. Red marker means “danger, shoot them first” while green means “they are about to shoot”.

Virtua Cop Co-op element

To get the best possible experience from this game, it’s best to play it in co-op mode. This not only makes the game more fun with two players competing to see who can outlast the other or score the most points but also challenging. 

Friendly competition amongst 2 players is not a bad thing and this is a great game for those who love the chance to compete with their friends in a fast-paced shooter. The co-op feature is also found in Virtua Cop 2 which is a sequel to this game and builds on the action of this game and ramps it up. 

Virtua Cop Sound

You feel part of the action thanks to an amazing soundtrack that’s blasting in the background. It doesn’t overshadow the action on the screen which is good and you can hear every single gunshot and explosions. 

The commentary in this game works well with a simple but cool storyline. It was a lovely touch from the devs to add this feature. The civilians speak too when they pop up on screen however, the main bosses sound a bit muffled. What they are saying can be heard but the quality could have been so much better. 

While many people who play rail shooters don’t care too much about what bosses at the end of the levels are saying because all they want to do is shoot them but some polishing up was needed. Aside from this, everything else from an audio point was well executed and doesn’t feel out of place. 

Virtua Cop Graphics 

The visuals of this game are gorgeous and jaw-dropping. The use of 3D character models and the environment made this title stand out from other light gun shooters at the time of its release. 

When shot, enemies will respond differently depending on where players shoot them and bonus points are earned by disarming them. The weapons in this game also look incredible thanks to the 3D tech. 

The standard weapon that players start the game with (pistol) can be upgraded. Players also have access to a large variety of weapons like assault rifles and shotguns which also look fantastic. 

Virtua Cop length 

When it comes to length, this game isn’t long and apart from 3 arcade original levels, there are no additional levels. The enemy AI follows a fixed path and if players know their routine, the game can become easy to beat and set new high scores. Even though the game doesn’t offer much in terms of replay value, there is plenty of fun to be had either solo or two players. 

Final thoughts

Overall Virtua Cop was one of the best light gun shooters ever made in 1994 and it revolutionized the genre. Whether you’re playing solo or with someone, this game shines thanks to a great targeting system, cutscenes, and neat looking graphics. It was the first to introduce 3D polygons and influenced the creation of other shooters like the time crisis series, resident evil spin-off, and The house of the dead series. Even the critically acclaimed Nintendo 64 first-person shooter 007 GoldenEye was also influenced by Virtua Cop.

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