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If you liked to play policeman/woman when you were a kid, chances are that involved running around with toy guns and shooting at your friends, rather than directing traffic or writing speeding tickets. Real police work might not be as exciting as you imagined it when you were a child, but fear not. According to Future Cop: LAPD, policework in the future is all about transforming mecha-robots armed with mini-guns and missiles and shooting first and asking questions later. Released in 1998 for Windows, Mac and Playstation to mostly positive reception, the game somehow managed to flop at retail. While the mass-market overlooked the game, retrogaming connoisseurs should definitely check it out, as it’s actually a well polished and frantically playable little blaster.
The game will install without issues on 32 bit versions of Windows but, unfortunately, won’t install on 64 bit versions at all. Fear not however, as we have created a replacement installer that will take care of this for you. Furthermore, originally it was possible to configure the games 3D rendering settings by running the 3dsetup.exe tool that was bundled with the game. Regrettably, this tool didn’t work properly on any modern PC we tried it on (even our older Windows XP rig). Fortunately, our new replacement installer (link broken? Let me know here) takes care of this for you too and you can choose your preferred 3D setting while installing the game. You have a choice of three rendering modes:-
Software rendering:- Uses only the power of your computers CPU to draw the graphics, bypassing your graphics card or chip. Lowest quality but best compatibility.
DirectX rendering:- Uses the standard DirectX 3D acceleration modes. All modern graphics cards support this, though some users may find 3DFX mode works better.
3DFX rendering:- Uses the now obsolete 3DFX/Glide technology. While modern graphics cards do NOT support this, you can easily add support by installing a Glide wrapper. See “Running in 3DFX mode” under “Running the game” for more information.
You can switch between graphics modes at any time simply by running the installer again. You don’t need to reinstall the game, just select the graphics mode you want to switch to and deselect all other options.
The installer will also give you the option to “Update keyboard layout for 2 player compatibility”. For an explanation of what this does, see the section “Configuring controllers”.
To download our replacement installer, click here.
There were no patches released for the Windows game, though there was a 1.02 patch released for the Mac version.
Running the game
Depending on which graphics setting you chose when installing, the game should now run. If you choose 3DFX mode, you will need to follow the instructions under “Running in 3DFX mode” before you can start the game. Below are a few guidelines you should observe when trying to run this game. Check out the troubleshooting section too if you have issues while starting or playing the game.
The game runs better when run as administrator – Future Cop saves its game settings in the registry. It uses a section of the registry that more modern versions of Windows keep locked down. That means if you don’t run the game as administrator, you won’t be able to save any of your preferences. Unless you need to configure the game for a child or a standard users account, always run it as administrator, either by setting the compatibility option to do so or by right clicking on the programs shortcut and choosing “Run as administrator”.
Do not use a screen resolution greater than 1024×768 – Regardless of rendering mode, do not try to play the game in a higher resolution than this. If you do, it is likely to lock up or exhibit strange behaviour (such as not playing music and some sound effects, we kid you not).
Skipping movies and cutscenes – Click the left mouse button to skip the intro movie and other cutscenes.
Running in 3DFX mode – 3DFX/Glide was a competing graphics standard that was around at the time the game was released. Once the cutting edge of PC gaming technology, the standard is now defunct and no longer officially supported. Nevertheless, 3DFX games are kept alive by software packages known as Glide wrappers. These programs translate the old 3DFX Glide games into something modern graphics cards can display.
Normally when a game supports both 3DFX and DirectX we recommend you use DirectX. On some hardware however, Future Cop may perform better using 3DFX mode and the Glide wrapper nGlide. nGlide is our favourite Glide wrapper and the one we usually recommend for 3DFX games, you can download it here.
Before you start Future Cop in 3DFX mode, there are a few things you need to configure in nGlide. Search for “nglide” on your Start menu or Start screen and click on the icon that appears. This will launch the nGlide configuration tool, as shown below.
The two critical settings are “Screen resolution” and “3Dfx logo splash screen”. Do not try to force the game to run at a higher resolution than 1024×768. Leave this setting as “By app” and configure the resolution in-game instead (see Tweaking visual quality).
Secondly, the 3Dfx logo splash screen needs to be turned off. Yes, we get those nostalgia pangs when we see it too, but unfortunately it causes problems in this game.
With nGlide installed and configured you can now go ahead and launch the game in 3DFX mode. You can verify that 3DFX mode is enabled by going to the main menu and clicking on “Preferences”. If 3DFX mode is working correctly you should see some additional 3DFX options for adjusting gamma.
See the next section for how to configure the game for best visual quality.
Tweaking visual quality
Unlike many PC games, Future Cop only has a couple of visual quality settings for you to tweak. Make sure you are running the game as administrator and then, from the games main menu, click on “Preferences” and the window shown below will then appear.
Set the screen resolution to a maximum of 1024×768. Trying to go higher will just cause problems. The 3DFX options will only appear if you are running in 3DFX mode. You can turn on filtering and adjust Gamma (which affects screen brightness) to taste.
Click on “OK” when you are done setting these options. We recommend that you now exit the game and restart it. This will ensure that the registry keys get written successfully.
When installing the game, we gave you the option to “Update keyboard layout for 2 player compatibility”. Future Cop features a split-screen two player mode. While the default keyboard layout is fine for single player policeman, it’s no cop at all if you want to bring a partner along. By installing the updated keyboard layout you can play two-player easily. However, the original layout is possibly more comfortable for those of you who want to play the game alone.
Reconfiguring the games controls in-game is tricky, in fact it didn’t seem to work for us at all. Fortunately, there is a file in the games directory called “controls.txt”. By editing this file you can easily remap the controls. Unfortunately, when editing this file there’s no indication of which control does what. To make things easier, refer to the table below. As long as you edit the controls.txt file and keep to this order, you can remap the controls however you want. If you ever want to go back to the default controls, simply delete the “controls.txt” file and the game will then create a new one the next time it is run. To play with gamepads you are going to need Xpadder, which we will come to in a moment.
|Control||Default Binding||Revised Binding||Recommended 360 Pad Control|
|Up||NumPad8||W||Left stick Up and D-pad Up|
|Down||NumPad5||S||Left stick Down and D-pad Down|
|Right||NumPad6||D||Right stick Right and D-pad Right|
|Left||NumPad4||A||Right stick Left and D-pad Left|
|Jink (strafe) left||NumPad7||Q||Left stick Left|
|Jink (strafe) right||NumPad9||E||Left stick Right|
|Change Target||NumPad0||Ctrl||X (Blue) and B (Red)|
|Up (P2)||NumPad8||NumPad8||Left stick Up and D-pad Up|
|Down (P2)||NumPad5||NumPad5||Left stick Down and D-pad Down|
|Right (P2)||NumPad6||NumPad6||Right stick Right and D-pad Right|
|Left (P2)||NumPad4||NumPad4||Right stick Left and D-pad Left|
|Gun Weapon (P2)||*||*||RT|
|Action (P2)||NumPad0||NumPad0||A (Green)|
|Special Weapon (P2)||+||+||RB|
|Jump (P2)||NumPad /||NumPad /||LB|
|Camera (P2)||NumPad .||NumPad .||Y (Yellow)|
|Jink (strafe) left (P2)||NumPad7||NumPad7||Left stick Left|
|Jink (strafe) right (P2)||NumPad9||NumPad9||Left stick Right|
|Heavy Weapon (P2)||NumPad –||NumPad –||LT|
|Change Target (P2)||NumPad1||NumPad1||X (Blue) and B (Red)|
To get the game working with controllers, we used our old friend Xpadder. Of course, if you want to play two player, Xpadder supports multiple controllers. Here’s a picture of our Xpadder profile for the game.
We originally created a layout based on the controls in the Playstation version of the game. However, this game pre-dates analogue controllers and so was configured for the original, digital only Playstation controller. This didn’t map as comfortably onto the Xbox 360 controller as we anticipated. We have therefore redesigned the layout to more accurately emulate the kinds of controls you’d encounter in a more modern third person shooter.
Notice that we’ve also added mouse movement onto the left analogue stick, and a mouse button click onto the A button. This allows the menus to be navigated without reaching for the keyboard. The game can also be paused by pressing the Start button. The only time you will need the keyboard is when you save your game, as you will have to then enter a name for your save game. You could always use a chatpad as per the tutorial here if you want to avoid this.
Remember that if you are running the game as administrator, you will need to run Xpadder as administrator too, else the inputs will not be detected by the game.
As well as local co-op, the game supports a kind of tower defense/deathmatch type game called Precinct Assault. While the servers that let you play this over the internet are long gone, it’s possible to host and join your own games on the LAN or even online. Playing online may require you to reconfigure your router, though playing against an opponent in the same home should be somewhat easier. We did not test the network multiplayer options, so if you do get them working on a modern PC, let us know in the comments.
Troubleshooting and known issues
For such an old game, Future Cop: LAPD runs very well on modern hardware. It is not without its issues however. Here are the issues we encountered when playing and any possible solutions we found.
Audio and music not playing in cutscenes and/or only partially in game:- This can happen if you set the games screen resolution higher than 1024×768. We’ve no idea why. This can also happen if you are using an optical or HDMI sound card. To cure the problem, turn on Dolby Digital encoding if your card supports this. Users running graphics cards with HDMI audio output should not be affected.
Cannot Alt+Tab out of the game:- If you try to nip back to the desktop to check your e-mail or whatever, the game is likely to simply crash or just not let you switch back to it. Currently there’s no workaround to this other than to play in window mode which is only available when using software rendering mode.
Cannot see menus:- Can happen on machines where Stardock Windowblinds is installed. Add “FCopLAPD.exe” to the list of programs excluded from skinning in Windowblinds.
Corrupt graphics in game:- Happens on some machines when using DirectX mode, switch to 3DFX mode and use nGlide.
Invisible electric fences in 3DFX mode:- You will encounter several electric fences when you play the game, including several on the first level. Watch out if you are playing in 3DFX/Glide mode as these fences may be invisible. They still drain your shield if you hit them though! It’s fairly obvious where the fences should be, so just keep an eye out.
Invisible pause menus:- Sometimes when the game is paused, all you will see is a white screen instead of the pause options. Currently there’s no known fix/workaround. Try not to pause the game too often, go take a leak before you start the next level!
Lock-ups or crashes when loading levels:- This was the most frustrating problem we encountered. Sometimes the game simply locks up when you go to load a level. If this happens to you often, try logging out of all other user accounts and shutting down as many programs as possible.
Screen blanks when starting a level:- The game runs its cut scenes at a different resolution to the main gameplay. Back in the days of CRT monitors this didn’t matter, but some more modern displays (particularly HDTVs) take a few seconds to re-display the picture after a screen resolution change. This can leave your mech vulnerable at the start of the level while you wait for the screen to come back. There’s no real workaround for this other than using a different monitor.
Screenshot taken at the start of level 1 running in DirectX mode. Click the picture to see a bigger version.