What happens when you mix a thug-turned-cop, a terrorist plot, and NYC's finest? I don't know, but if you figure it out please tell me.
"Technically, not cool." Indeed, it is also technically not good, fun, or well made. It is pretty, but how graphically impressive do you want a game that thought "Ground Zero should be among the sights that our Pokemon Snap-style sub-quest has you shoot pictures of?" Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, and Ground Zero.
Let me provide you with some "headgold. Knowledge. Money of the streets." C.O.P. The Recruit (brief aside, C dot O dot P dot is some kind of acronym. It's never explained, or perhaps I didn't notice due to massive disinterest) can be described in ten words:
BLAZE UP THE CITY.
SLAM THEM INTO EVERYTHING.
Did I mention you're the titular cop... and recruit? In C dot O dot P dot, you play as Dan Miles, an illegal street racer-turned-cop, who is tasked with saving New York City as a member of the elite City Control Division. In C to the P, salvation comes by ramming your car into fleeing criminals (pedestrians and traffic be damned), and entering every bank and convenience store in NYC to blaze a group of thugs.
Did I mention that you are the law enforcement? It's hard to believe it sometimes. The story is stupid, and the writing is hilarious. All the above quotes are taken from in-game dialog. Someone was paid to coin the word “headgold.” (In the interest of journalistic integrity, I have used “headgold” in multiple conversations since I played this game.) There is a huge cast of generic characters that are not really explored, seemingly added to provide opportunities to produce concept art. The actual story is disjointed, and almost impossible to follow; it jumps around like a terrier.
C.O.P. The Recruit is VD-Dev's attempt to bring the free-roaming Grand Theft Auto style to the DS. When Rockstar Games attempted this feat they created an isometric engine, and the result was a masterpiece. C.O.P. features a fully 3D, and enormous, New York City to explore (without a moment of loading). While technically impressive, it just doesn’t work on the DS.
C.O.P. is mostly just a driving game. The majority of missions ask you to either ram fleeing cars into submission, follow a fleeing car without falling too far behind, or racing from checkpoint to checkpoint within a defined time limit. When you're not in missions you're driving to them across the absolutely expansive NYC. The problem is that the cars control like barges, set adrift on the high seas (the game also features boats, which control even worse). It is very difficult to avoid endless collisions, each of which could ruin your attempt to complete whatever mission you're on.
The non-driving missions are either third person shooters or third person fire extinguishing. The targeting is controlled with the touch screen filling in for the analog stick. Moving the stylus around works much like a mouse in a PC first-person shooter. The problem is that Dan turns slowly, and aiming is imprecise. When you're on target a red halo appears around your enemy. However, I don't believe that means you're actually hitting the target.
Let me provide an example. Using a standard issue handgun, if the reticule is to be believed I unloaded twelve to thirteen shots into an enemy before he dropped. This wasn't a boss, this was a standard enemy. It is true that enemies take a whole ton of damage (entire clips from a Kalashnikov?), but the hit detection seems very sketchy. This leads to a lot of frustrating shoot-outs, where oftentimes you're heavily outnumbered. This can be alleviated as you unlock more weapons, but you need to make sure you have ample ammo at your disposable.
The graphics in this game really are impressive, perhaps the most impressive I've ever seen on the DS. The sprawling world whizzes by as you drive through the city streets. New York is diverse and colorful, the streets full of moving cars and the sidewalks clogged with pedestrians (and my car as I careen out of control). There is no sign of slowdown or loading. The graphics are fantastic.
The sound is not. The cars all sound like garbage disposals, although the guns sound fine. There is no voice acting to speak of, with the exception of the screaming pedestrians who you are subjecting to your drivers ed gone wrong. The music is technically fine, but just unpleasant to listen to. Featuring techno-inspired beats, they are repetitive and not good to begin with.
The core problem with C.O.P. is that it is unfinished. The “dramatic” story is comical: there is a large cast of characters that I don't know anything about nor do I care to, and the plot is confounding and hard to follow. The gameplay is unpolished: driving isn't fun and gunplay is defective. The sound is just not good. The game's shining moment is the engine, which is seemingly where most of VD-Dev's efforts were spent. C.O.P. is a forgettable title that had the extreme misfortune of coming out the same year as the vastly superior Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.