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Gotcha! from Virtua Squad

Sega's Virtua Squad 2

Arcade action for the PC

By Steven Bilodeau

Video arcades have been hugely popular for about two decades, and yet, if you look at the games that have been in those arcades, not too many of them require a ton of heavy thinking. They're mostly "twitch" games where the player shoots a target, drives a car or a tank, or some other action-oriented goal. The reason for this is obvious; the designers want your quarters in the machine, not in your pocket, and if the game requires a lot of time, those quarters won't be moving.

Virtua Squad 2 is one of the most successful arcade games of recent times, although in the arcade this Sega game goes by the name of Virtua Cop. It's basically a computerized shooting gallery just like the ones found at 1930's carnivals.The bank robbers and other assorted no-goods pop out from around corners or drive by at high speed, and you have to shoot them. In the arcade you use a pistol; on your computer, you use the mouse to aim and fire.

The game translates to the computer far better than one might have expected. Part of the challenge at the arcade is reloading. You only have six shots, and you reload by aiming the pistol away from the screen. On the computer version, you fire with the right mouse button and reload with the left. It doesn't sound like a big deal until you have to face three or four bad guys and you're out of shells.

Sega has upgraded the most recent version with support for 3D accelerators. The colours and detail are smoother and the action happens more quickly. It looks every bit as good, if not better, than the arcade version.

It's also loads of fun. There are three levels with a couple of paths in each one. This game takes you on a predetermined route; all you do is shoot. While you're doing that, you have to cope with the swooping 3D perspectives and detailed graphics. The gameplay is challenging since you have a limited number of lives. Each time a bad guy beats you to the draw, you lose a life. Also, if you shoot an innocent bystander, you forfeit one of your lives. After you've run out of chances, you can choose to "continue" the game. This is the same as inserting another quarter in the machine. You pick up right where you left off. You can only use so many "continues" though, before the game does actually end.

Virtua Squad 2 is a great game for the same dose of action you'd expect from the corner arcade.

Steven Bilodeau is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of his columns at

Steven Bilodeau can be reached via e-mail at And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site of The Edmonton Journal, at


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January 31, 2006