Games That Pushed The Limit: G-Police (1997)

This futuristic shooter lead the way for a new PC hardware standard.

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The ATI Rage Pro Turbo AGP - The first AGP graphics card released by ATI Technologies

PC hardware enthusiasts are always looking forward to the newest advances in tech. New hardware and features are introduced and promoted by hardware manufacturers with the intent to use said advancements as selling points for their products. The promise of better graphics or faster performance can drive PC gaming enthusiasts into a rising tide of hype and expectations, but all the new features in the world won’t mean much without software that can take advantage of them. In 1997, Liverpool, England-based development house Psygnosis was fresh off several releases that reside in the upper echelon of the Sony Playstation’s impressive catalog. During a two year span, Psygnosis released Destruction Derby and Wipeout (and their respective sequels). The next big project announcement was for a futuristic shooter called G-Police. It would release for the Playstation and Windows 95 in the fall of 1997.

Earlier that year, Intel released their newest desktop chipset, the i440LX. It also went by the internal code name, Balboa. The buzz surrounding the i440LX Slot 1 chipset was the introduction of the new AGP port. An evolution of the original PCI bus that was commonly used for graphics cards in the years prior, AGP slots had the huge advantage of being able to communicate directly with the CPU. AGP graphics cards would be able to use textures directly from the system RAM, whereas PCI graphics cards were required to copy textures from the system memory onto the card’s dedicated video memory.

Things were different back in 1997. You couldn’t simply hop into your hoverboots and slide into Walmart to buy an 11GB GTX 1080 Ti. The best case scenario was that you slipped on your stylish LA Lights sneakers and hoped that the Babbage’s in your local mall carried a 4MB graphics card. PC games were getting better looking and more complex. The common 4MB card configurations of the day were not enough to keep up with the breakneck advancements in graphics technology. AGP cards were billed as the solution to our memory woes. Psygnosis’ G-Police would be the first major game to release for Windows that supported AGP graphics.

The listed system requirements for the software rendered version of G-Police called for a relatively light setup. Players would need a Pentium-class CPU, 16 megs of ram, and a 4X CD-ROM drive. The AGP Enhanced Version of G-Police required equipment that was on the cutting edge of PC games hardware in 1997. Lifted directly from the AGP Enhanced G-Police demo readme file:

AGP Enhanced Version Requires:

   Processor: Intel (R) Pentium(R) II, AGP Graphics Accelerator

   OS: Windows 95

   RAM: 32 Megs

   Hard Drive: 2 Megs

   CD ROM:  4X or better

   Controller: Keyboard, Joystick(optional), SideWinder Force Feed Back Pro Joystick, SideWinder game pad

Also listed in that readme file were detailed descriptions of the game’s graphical options and what each option did in the game. It explained that some features would not be visible to players unless they had a compliant graphics accelerator installed. One of the graphics options was for animated textures. The game came with two options: low and normal. Owners of powerful AGP graphics accelerators had the option of enabling two additional levels, high and extreme. As quoted from the readme file:

“If you have a graphics card with AGP facility, you will also have a high and possibly an extreme option. This affects the number of frames for the advertisement boards in the cities. High and extreme settings will have movies on the advertisement boards, and enhanced explosions.”

G-Police’s in-game levels were filled with dark towers in a futuristic cityscape. Giant, Blade Runner-esque advertisement boards littered the play area and were often the backdrop for aerial combat. Moving ad boards increased the level of immersion and were the first taste of what AGP could offer PC gamers. In addition to the AGP enhancements, G-Police was one of the first games to offer PC players a Dolby-encoded audio playback option. Surround sound PC gaming was still in its infancy in 1997 and the game-changing Aureal Vortex 2 sound chip was still a year away. The PC version of G-Police also had videos in-game that supported the new MMX instruction set that had recently debuted on Intel’s Pentium and Pentium II CPUs. 

As 1997 passed into 1998, graphical improvements started to take off at an accelerated pace. Landmark graphics powerhouses like Unreal, Thief, Blood 2, Forsaken, and Shogo: Mobile Armor Division featured visuals that rivaled or beat what was seen in arcades. 3D accelerators were selling well and a big chunk of them were on the AGP bus. By early 2000, all flagship graphics cards were using AGP. AGP graphics cards were king until the mid-2000s, when the new PCI-Express standard began to take over on mainstream motherboards. The AGP graphics card had it’s last gasp in early 2006 when nVidia announced that the GeForce GTX 7800GS would be released as an AGP card. The 7800GS was a cut-down version of the super popular 7800GTX GPU. The 7800GS gave the old dogs hanging onto their AGP motherboards one final hurrah. 

G-Police was not a huge success on the PC platform. It reviewed fairly well, but was known for its insane difficulty and never stood out among the titans with which it shared a release window. While the game itself is not remembered fondly, the advancement in graphics technology that it helped push forward was a benefit to all PC gamers. Unfortunately, G-Police does not play nice with modern hardware and operating systems. Workarounds can be found online for those willing to sift through the crashes and headaches. Thankfully, those who missed it on the first go or players looking for a nostalgic look back can find high-quality video capture on Youtube.

Did you get the chance to play G-Police during its launch window? Do you remember your first AGP graphics card? If so, tell us about it in the comments section.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    July 7, 2017 4:30 PM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Games That Pushed The Limit: G-Police (1997)

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      July 7, 2017 4:35 PM

      Crabs Jarrard?

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      July 7, 2017 4:38 PM

      I remember the 440LX and 440BX chipsets fondly. I didn't buy this particular video card, nor ever play this game. What strikes me is the fact that the unaccelerated Descent looks better than this game does and it came out a couple years before this game did.

      I look forward to your article on "Crysis" in the series "Games that pushed the limit".
      Also, 7th Guest should probably be on that list, as it caused me to buy my first 2x CD-ROM drive "double speed". Where did those end up? 52x?

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      July 7, 2017 4:54 PM

      Loved that game although it wasn't because of a sweet new AGP card but mostly I had a sweet new joystick. That game is great with a joystick.

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      July 7, 2017 4:55 PM

      My first AGP card was a Trident 2D 4MB card, and I inherited a Voodoo 2 to go with it (still PCI), but later got a TNT2 Ultra which I believe was my first real integrated 2D/3D AGP graphics card.

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      July 7, 2017 5:00 PM

      My first AGP card was a TNT2 from Diamond. It was pretty good.

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      July 7, 2017 5:00 PM

      I still remember going to electronics boutique to pick up my 3dfx voodoo extreme however that was pci. For the life of me I don't remember what I got after it, but I know I milked that card for a solid four years. I know I never got a TnT, but I think my next card was the Geforce 256.

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      July 7, 2017 5:21 PM

      I can't quite remember but tnt diamond monster 2 needed for Jane's longbow was I *think* or first graphics card.

      It may have been longbow 2 though...I bought one of those and the pc refused to play it without a 3d card. The extra bonus was playing quake not in software mode.

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      July 7, 2017 5:26 PM

      The PC version of G-Police had flying cars!?

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      July 7, 2017 5:27 PM

      Fuck yes G-Police was such an amazing game for the time

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      July 7, 2017 7:31 PM

      Got a free copy of that game with a video card. I think it was a Voodoo2.

      Had three games, slave zero, g police and incoming.

      Man those games were jaw dropping back then.

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        July 8, 2017 9:20 AM

        Yep, this!

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        July 8, 2017 9:57 AM

        I don't think I got any games with my voodoo 2(I bought creative's) but i played the demo a lot. Lots of blown up cars!

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      July 7, 2017 7:33 PM

      From banned to a submitter in months, who'da thunk? Nice job.

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      July 7, 2017 9:37 PM

      I was so excited about G-Police until I played it. haha

      I don't remember what my first AGP card was - probably my TNT 1? I'm wondering if my first AGP-equipped system might have been the PC I got to overclock a Celeron 300 on the cheap. Hm..

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      July 7, 2017 10:48 PM

      I think my first AGP card was a voodoo3 3000 agp. I think I probably still have it somewhere too. I remember the box more than anything. Some green man with eyes staring into you soul to see if you were worthy to wield the power.

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      July 8, 2017 12:06 AM

      I loved that game even with all of its flaws. I played it on pc and psx. The poor psx could barely render far enough ahead but the pc version on a voodoo card was a joy!

      Damn I really miss Psygnosis. They made some awesome games that were way ahead of their time.

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      July 8, 2017 1:34 AM

      play this on my first nvidia card

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      July 8, 2017 5:41 AM

      Couldn't stand the fog in that game, but they did do a good job in making it relevant to the world.

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      July 8, 2017 5:42 AM

      Ooh, now do Forsaken. :D I remember G-Police, Slave Zero and Forsaken were popular pack-in games with video cards. I think I played each for an hour or two before going back to Quake II / Unreal.

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      July 8, 2017 7:42 AM

      I played G-Police but all I remember doing is blowing up traffic for hours. I really can't remember the actual gameplay. It was gorgeous though.

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      July 8, 2017 8:06 AM

      So what's the story behind this game being bundled with so many of our first 3D cards? I had it with my first card which was a Riva128. Was it just one of the first hardware accelerated games to be available at that particular moment?

      Someone from a reputable gaming news organisation should do a study... Also Evolva, etc.

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        July 8, 2017 10:21 AM

        I know the article picks it up, but I meant more from the game/marketing side... however I guess it being the first of its kind made it the obvious pick, so its self-revealing.

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      July 8, 2017 8:14 AM

      Loved that game and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redline_Racer

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      July 8, 2017 8:41 AM

      I got it with a video card and my PC STILL couldn't run it at acceptable framerates.

    • rms
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      July 8, 2017 9:57 AM

      I played the demo many times through, can't recall a lick about it though!