When you consider that even Rockstar didn’t make Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on the DS as a 3D open-world game, it seems ambitious almost to the point of foolish for someone else to try it. But undeterred (or uninformed), Ubisoft is going to try anyway with C.O.P. The Recruit, a very GTA-ish cop drama for the DS.
In the game, you play as a former street racer turned undercover cop. As a result, you not only drive really fast around the city you’re supposed to be covertly protecting, but you also occasionally have to race bad guys as well. In other words, the game isn’t just cribbing from GTA, but from Need for Speed as well.
Which isn’t to say you won’t be shooting people (though by “people” we mean bad guys, since Ubisoft made a point of saying that this game would have no hookers, shootable or otherwise). Unfortunately, this is where it kind of breaks down, since you use the directional pad to move, the stylus to aim, and the shoulder buttons to shoot. Not that we really know a better way to do this on the DS, but this method is rather inaccurate. But then, your enemies seem to be crap shots, too, and your health recovers when you avoid being shot for a while, say by hiding behind cover, so it’s not entirely pointless.
There are also some puzzle bits, and some voice commands you can use, though neither was in the build we saw. All we really saw was the blocky streets as we drove around the city, and the blocky bad guys as we got into a shootout. Visually, the game looks like what Grand Theft Auto might’ve looked like on the original PlayStation had Rockstar gone that route instead of the top-down one. You know, like they did for Chinatown Wars. And while we were told by our demo person that the game would be running at 60 frames per second, that’s a lot less impressive when you realize that blocky graphics at 60 frames per second are still blocky.
Admittedly, we were left rather unimpressed by C.O.P. Though considering that it isn’t scheduled to be released until the end of the year, and didn’t even have a name when we saw it — it was inexplicably identified only as Project Codename: NY 213, even though the famous area code in New York City is 212 — we’re hoping they’ll work out some of the kinks before it comes out.