C.O.P. The Recruit Hands-On

Illegal street racers make for good cops in this DS action game from Ubisoft.

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In Ubisoft's upcoming third-person action game, C.O.P The Recruit, you play as a Dan Miles, a former street racer turned crime fighter in the Criminal Overturn Program, or C.O.P. for short. That might be the worst code-name for a fictional law enforcement division in the history of the world, but C.O.P. The Recruit has plenty to be excited about, including a big city to explore, some interesting controls, and some of the best 3D graphics we've seen on the handheld to date. We recently had a chance to play a limited demo of the game, which is due for release late this year.

Shoot first, ask questions later in Ubisoft's upcoming third-person action game, C.O.P. The Recruit for DS.
Shoot first, ask questions later in Ubisoft's upcoming third-person action game, C.O.P. The Recruit for DS.

The two-mission demo started off with an introductory cutscene showing a bit of Dan's illegal street racing past and his recruitment into the C.O.P. After that, the gameplay kicked in as we first guided Dan around the world with the D pad and had him enter his squad car with a press of the X button. The car controls were easy enough to get a handle on, with the B button used to accelerate, the A button for brakes, and the Y button for the hand brake.

After a bit of driving--and taking in some of the huge city and busy traffic that's rendered with impressive detail in the game--we got our first mission. Our informant, Crimp, tipped us off to the presence of a known criminal named Willis hanging out at a local illegal casino uptown. After making our way up to the spot--the spot was marked on the minimap showed in the DS's lower screen--we snuck in the back door of the building and immediately found ourselves in a firefight.

The shooting controls differ considerably from the standard movement, but they are easy to learn. To ready your weapon, you simply tap on the weapon icon located in the upper-right corner of the touch screen. This shifts the perspective slightly to an over-the-shoulder view and brings up a targeting icon onscreen. You still use the D pad to walk forward or backward and strafe left or right. To aim your weapon, you can move the stylus around the touch screen, which also turns out to be a handy way to steer Dan as he maneuvers his way around the level. Finally, to fire your weapon, you can either double-tap the screen or pull the left or right trigger. Reloading is handled automatically, and you can switch among the nine weapons available to you (provided you have ammo of course) by simply bringing up a menu and tapping on the weapon you wish to use.

After clearing out the first room with the help of some always-handy exploding barrels, we made our way to the security room and used the casino's security cameras to spot Willis hanging out in the casino. We then guided Dan into the casino and had him approach Willis. We'd like to tell you that Willis came to his senses, turned his life around at that moment, and lived on the straight and narrow for the rest of his natural-born days. But, you know that didn't happen. Instead, Willis decided to turn the casino into a war zone, and, as a result, Willis had to die.

After dispatching Willis and his cronies, Dan made his way out of the casino and got another tip to check out Willis' safe house to find a clue to some sort of puzzle (presumably this mystery will be better explained in the full version of the game). The only problem was this: Someone has set the safe house on fire and Dan had minutes before the whole place and the (all-important) clue was burnt to a crisp. After zipping uptown and entering the building, Dan used a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze, only to find the portion of the clue he was looking for: some sort of schematic drawing.

With those missions complete, the demo of C.O.P. The Recruit was done, so we're still left with more questions than answers regarding the game's plot. What we can say is that the controls are fun, the city is huge, and the game is a graphical treat so far. Here's hoping C.O.P. lives up to this promising start when it's released later this year; expect more from us on the game in the coming months.

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