Anyone who's ever rented the early John Woo flick "The Killer" may have played this drinking game while viewing it: Whenever actor Chow Yun-Fat pops a cap into some unlucky Hong Kong triad, you in turn pop the cap on a cold one and take a swig. Judging from the scores of bloodied gangsters piled up at the end of the film, there were probably a lot of empties - and maybe a few passed out folks - strewn about your living room when the tape ran out. With Virtua Cop, Sega brought the same sense of shameless, unrelenting violence found in Woo's films to the arcade. Continuing in this tradition, the company has decided to take advantage of the computer revolution, and has brought their polygon blood bath to the PC in the form of Virtua Squad. Now, by simply aiming and clicking with a mouse, PC users can mercilessly take out hundreds of suit-and-tie gun-runners in a single play session on the desktop.
Virtua Cop, for those not familiar, is a first-person shooting game in which you play a member of the white-clad Virtua City Police Department. You've received a hot tip about a bunch of arms dealers and are sent in to arrest them. The game wouldn't be any fun if these guys went quietly, so any time you encounter one of the mirror-shaded thugs, they're either leaping out to surprise you with a bullet or trying to snipe you from a high rooftop. You have no control over your cop's movement, and instead are moved along through each 3-D environment while attack situations are set up for you. At this point, winning the game is all a matter of reflexes and timing.
On the screen, the enemy who is closest to being able to fire at you is surrounded by a timed targeting reticle. The game becomes intensely cinematic when you shoot these guys. Enemies who are up on rooftops make dramatic, several-story plummets and if your cross hairs are fixed on the enemy, you can hit him with two, three, four bullets (an easier task when you've pick up the automatic or machine gun), spinning him around in an incredible pirouette of death before he finally spills.
The main problems with what is essentially Virtua Cop for the PC are that the action is a tad jerkier than the Saturn version, and more importantly, that you can't use a light-gun or - if you please - light-guns. It's been said before that one of the most sublime gaming experiences is playing Virtua Cop holding both guns, creating a hellfire of bullets while you pick guys off left and right. As you might imagine, it's less of an immediate experience creating hellfire with a mouse. But surprisingly, the mouse control is more naturally responsive than a gamepad and still makes for a fairly entertaining shoot-out. Despite its faults, Virtua Squad retains much of the same graphical quality and Woo-isms of Virtua Cop for the Saturn. While it may disappoint some die-hard console owners, those PC owners coming to the title for the first time should enjoy taking a break from their spreadsheets to blow away a few hundred sharp-dressed gangsters.