When I first saw Giant Cop early last year, it was one of VR’s very best tech demos. How could it not be? Towering over a city block, picking up civilians and mercilessly dangling them like a key chain, or throwing them across the map was one of the most amusing and entertaining things I’d done in a headset. It was the perfect instrument to show off the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in five minute windows.
Giant Cop is not, however, one of VR’s very best full games. Developer Other Ocean has expanded on everything that made that short glimpse of this unusual kaiju game great: there are more environments to explore and more toys to pick up and play with. But when it comes to a structured campaign it struggles to find engaging uses for its unique premise beyond the mechanics we first saw a year ago.
Our hero protects Micro City, a wonderful train set world that runs like clockwork. Traffic races around your feet and ant-sized people stop to look up and wave at you. It’s like a high resolution version of Google Earth, only put through a 70’s filter to echo classic cop shows like Starsky and Hutch.
With the help of the Commissioner and your partner, Buddy Cop, you head to different sections of the city to hunt down criminals, scanning the streets for wrong do’ers, starting with a hunt for ‘Savage Cabbage’ dealers. No, that isn’t code for drugs, you’re literally chasing down vegetarians and putting them in their place. Giant Cop does have a pretty wonderful sense of humor to complement its silly premise; I laughed a lot while arresting people with silly hats or out on the hunt for ‘Pokedogs’ with their smartphones.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that, as wonderful as an idea as Giant Cop is, turning it into an engaging, full-length campaign is a tough ask. But Other Ocean has taken the game in a strange direction, attempting satire on current events rather than fully embracing the game’s inherent silliness. Most of it’s missions involve tedious tasks that more often than not ask you to just look really, really hard for something, be it a criminal, protest poster, or specific vehicle. It’s like turning the hunt for the TV remote into a video game, and it’s about as thrilling as it sounds.
Making this more of a headache is the game’s teleportation system, which points you in specific directions and only allows limited traversal. Though it’s appearing on Rift and (later on) PSVR, the absolute best way to play Giant Cop is with roomscale support, as there are no options to let you move the camera artificially, and some items of interest will often be out of reach or in dead spots for tracking. The game does recommend you have a certain amount of space available to you, but that doesn’t excuse a lack of options for those without three sensor setups or more limited space.
Fortunately, there’s enough sandbox fun here to save Giant Cop from absolute mediocrity. In my first five minutes of playing I’d thrown a car on top of an innocent civilian, thrown an innocent civilian into the ocean to drown, used a giant tennis racket to bat an innocent civilian into the ocean to drown, crushed an innocent civilian with a giant maraca and, finally, laid an innocent civilian flat on a road to be run over by a truck. I made a Grand Theft Auto killing spree look like a children’s cartoon.
The trouble is that all of that madness was present in the game’s original tech demo, and it doesn’t feel like anything has been gained in turning it into a full product. Sure, there are side missions to complete and hidden badges to locate, but it feels gamified for the sake of it. The first five minutes you spend with the game are going to be the best, though, and after that you’ve pretty much seen it all.
Giant Cop is still one of VR’s best tech demos. Left to your own devices, this is an enormously enjoyable toybox that succeeds perhaps more than any other VR game in doing one thing: making you smile. But Giant Cop is far from VR’s best game. It’s short campaign is filled with repetitive, tedious tasks that will tire and frustrate more than they ever do engage. There’s still an immense amount of fun to be had in Giant Cop, but it’s got very little to do with what’s been added in the past year.
Giant Cop is available now on Oculus Home for $24.99 and will be coming to HTC Vive and PlayStation VR at a later date. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.