Virtua Cop

Virtua Cop

A light-gun shooter released by Sega in 1994. It was the first texture-mapped 3D shooter, and went on to have a lasting impact on the rail shooter and first-person shooter genres.


Virtua Cop (known as Virtua Squad for the North American PC version) is a light-gun shooter created by Sega, and headed by Yu Suzuki. Its original incarnation was an Arcade Game in 1994 and it was later ported to the Sega Saturn in 1995, and then the PC in 1997. It was later bundled with Virtua Cop 2 in Japan and Europe on the Playstation 2 as Virtua Cop: Elite Edition (Virtua Cop Rebirth in Japan) on August 25, 2002 and November 29, 2002 respectively. It included gallery extras and implementation of Namco's Guncon-2 light-gun support, and it is considered the best port of the game. In 2004, a port was developed for the Nokia N-Gage handheld System. This was cancelled by the quality control team before its release.


Players assume the role of one of two police officers, namely Michael Hardy and James Cools and use the light-gun to shoot enemies and if a civilian was shot it the player would be penalized. The Name derived from the polygon graphical style which was used in Virtua Fighter as well. This Graphical style was unique because most games of this time period used two-dimensional graphics such as Lethal Enforcers. This was one of the first games to have environmental damage and it may have been the first 3-D shooter to have an exploding barrel.

Players assume the role of police officers in a first-person perspective and use a light-gun to shoot criminals and advance through the game, with penalties for shooting civilians. The players could also shoot power-ups that grants him a weapon or a life. The weapon is lost if the player is hit, but not if he shoots a civilian. Virtua Cop was notable for its use of polygonal graphics, which were subsequently used in both House of the Dead and Time Crisis, instead of the two dimensional sprites that were popular for previous games in the same genre. It is also notable for being one of the first games to allow the player to shoot through glass. Its name derived from this graphical style, which was also used in Virtua Fighter, Virtua Striker, and Virtua Racing.


Virtua Cop was a major influence on both light-gun shooters as well as first-person shooters. When it was released in 1994, the game broke new ground by introducing the use of 3D polygons to the light-gun shooter genre, sparking a Renaissance for rail shooters in particular. It was also the first shooter to use filtered, texture-mapped 3D polygons, powered by the Sega Model 2 arcade system. Some of the popular rail shooters heavily influenced by Virtua Cop include the Time Crisis series, The House of the Dead series, Resident Evil series, and Dead Space: Extraction.

Virtua Cop was also the primary inspiration for the seminal first-person shooter GoldenEye 007, which was originally envisioned as an on-rails light-gun shooter akin to Virtua Cop before it ended up as an off-rails first-person shooter. According to creator Martin Hollis: "We ended up with innovative gameplay, in part because we had Virtua Cop features in a FPS: A gun that only holds 7 bullets and a reload button, lots of position dependent hit animations, innocents you shouldn’t kill, and an aiming mode. When you press R in GoldenEye, the game basically switches to a Virtua Cop mode. Perhaps more importantly following the lead from Virtua Cop, the game was filled with action. There was lots to do, with very few pauses."