C.O.P. The Recruit was announced back at E3 in June, and quickly marked itself out as one to watch by promising an open world experience unlike anything on DS. Now we've had chance to grab a few minutes with the title, does it live up to the hype or is it lagging behind Chinatown Wars?
The first thing you'll notice on loading up C.O.P. is that it looks pretty. Very, very pretty, in fact: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars did a good job of recreating its predecessors' top-down graphical style, but C.O.P. is more in line with GTA's first forays into 3D, resembling GTA III or Driver in its viewpoint and style. Traditionally there's not been a huge amount of open world third-person shooting games on DS, but C.O.P. makes the machine sing with a silky smooth framerate, rock solid polygonal architecture and high resolution textures and faces. It's more in line with a PSP title than the sort of graphics you'd expect from Nintendo's handheld.
Even when driving it's remarkably quick, and the detail is impressive too - driving into a bus shelter will knock all its glass out, and you can even plough through fences and see them scatter the pedestrians. Bottom screen holds your GPS and mission objectives, with the top screen handling all the impressive 3D graphics. Control is very straightforward with the D-Pad moving your character, Y and A rotating the camera around your character (although irritatingly you can't move and rotate the camera at the same time), and the driving sections even feature a horn mapped to Select!
The story revolves around Dan Miles, a former underground street racer who becomes part of the Criminal Overturn Program, which involves becoming a street detective in order to protect New York citizens from large-scale threats. Along the way he slowly becomes embroiled into a deadly conspiracy culminating in a potentially catastrophic attack that only he can prevent. It may not be Shakespeare, but it's the kind of story that does its job and frames the satisfying driving and shooting elements you'd want in a title like this.
The accomplishment of cramming such an impressively detailed 3D city onto DS would normally be enough to stir our hearts, but the speed and smoothness with which the game moves puts it way above 90% of the DS's catalogue. Although we only had a brief hands-on session with the game, we came away thoroughly impressed at what the developers had managed to squeeze out of the DS, and with another month still to go until the game is released the finished product should be even more advanced than this extremely impressive opening.