Liberty City – You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Amidst the high-rise buildings and cramped alleyways that smother the surface of a this once beautiful set of islands, a criminal element skulks. Of course, I should know, I used to be one of them.
But now things are different. Over the past few months I’ve been back on the streets of GTA-IV, but this time I’ve been wearing the uniform of Liberty City’s finest – I’ve joined the LCPD, and I’m going to do my best to make Liberty City a better place.
Liberty City Police Department: First Response is an ambitious mod for GTA-IV that allows you to approach the criminal side of Liberty City from the opposite direction. Whilst vanilla GTA touched on the idea by giving you access to a police computer and a list of outstanding warrants, LCPD:FR goes the whole hog by allowing you to become a police officer, with all the traffic stops, parking tickets and arrests that come with the job. I tried it out several months ago and what I’d expected would represent a brief jaunt around the city with my sirens blaring ended up being one of my most played mods of 2013.
By travelling to any one of Liberty City’s many police stations, LCPD:FR gives you the option of going inside and putting on a police uniform. But once you put on that badge, GTA-IV changes completely. In one easy step you can leave your petty life of crime behind for good and start making a difference in the LCPD.
As you patrol the streets, constant radio chatter informs you of crimes in progress across the city. Whereas before you’d chuckle at the sight of an overweight officer panting his way after a nimble thief, now you’ll be screeching alongside and joining the pursuit, eager to bring the felon to justice. Speeding cars, dangerous driving and violent street brawls are no longer just part of the city, now they’re your very reason for being there.
On my last patrol I was tailing a rather beat-up looking car and considering pulling it over when a call came through. An armed robbery in progress half way across the city, shots fired and the suspects fleeing in an armoured van. In an instant, what had started as a quiet patrol became a dangerous chase across the city, snaking through heavy traffic in pursuit of a massive and seemingly unstoppable goliath.
Unpredictability is where LCPD:FR truly shines. Generally a routine traffic-stop will result in nothing more than a ticket being issued against a rather disgruntled driver, but other times you’ll watch the car squeal away from you, desperate to escape. A simple pedestrian stop might end up in a gun being pulled on you, giving you less than a second to choose between ordering them to drop the weapon or opening fire to defend yourself. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe what they were reaching for was only their passport and you just shot an elderly woman in the street for no reason.
With a massive modding community, LCPD:FR has dozens of police vehicles available for download. Weighing in at a slim 30meg – a paltry file size when compared to some of the behemoths I’ve downloaded for the likes of Skyrim, it’s added hundreds of hours to a game I’d practically put back on the shelf and forgotten about.
The LCPD:FR team have finally released v1.0, which adds even more content and polishes up the already expansive gameplay, meaning there’s no better time to give it a shot. You can download it straight from the development website here.