Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs
Developed By: Ground Shatter
Published By: Rising Star Games
Category: Action, First Person, Arcade
Release Date: March 14, 2019
Have you been be looking for the chance to recreate the old cop movies you use to love? Looking to pair up with a friend for some crime busting action. Well then grab your friend and get together, for this review of the buddy cop action game developed by Ground Shatter.
RICO plays as a first person shooter with bullet time elements. When you launch the game you’ll have a few different options available for you. You have single player, local 2 player co-op, and online 2 player. So there’s plenty of ways to play RICO.
Each level in RICO is procedurally generated, and while environments may look the same, no two levels are completely identical in their layout. Your goal in each level is usually to clear the building, or find all the evidence. Along the way, if you start running out of bullets, or need some health you can find ammunition, and health packs which I guaranteed you’ll want to take advantage of.
Some levels may have the added goal of defusing bombs in a certain amount of time. I think these side tasks like defusing bombs is where RICO went wrong with the gameplay design because they don’t really add variety they just add-on stress. It would have been nice to have some different elements of gameplay to change things up.
When you start a new level you will begin at the starting point, that will also be your inevitable escape when the missions finished. You’ll go through the environment busting down doors, and when this happens, you go into bullet time mode for a short time. For those who aren’t familiar with bullet time mode, it’s when time goes very slow allowing you to make more precision shots. It’s a fun mechanic that lends itself well to an FPS like this that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Guns aren’t the only weapon in your arsenal. No, in fact you carry a police baton that’s used as a melee weapon by clicking in the right stick. The baton is very strong, and great for handing one person or a group of criminals that are unarmed. Furthermore, you have access to a slide option that you can actually use to take out enemies as well. Sliding into enemies and taking them down is great fun and really displays some of the games character.
The controls could use some work, as I found them kind of wonky and hard to aim. Luckily, there is the option to change your sensitivity, but the controls generally don’t feel as smooth as I would have liked.
Once you’ve gone through some levels, and utilized your arsenal of skills you’ll realize the gameplay gets old pretty quick. It’s really fun the first time you break down a door, and bust a couple of gang members. However, everything stays the same and doesn’t change that much from start to finish. You can only slide tackle, and shoot people so much doing the same mission types until it starts to grow really tiresome.
RICO offers a few different types of game modes to try, and keep players engaged. Quick match lets you load up a level, and dive straight into the action. There’s also a wave based survival mode called Lockdown, that’s kind of reminiscent of the old “Spec Ops” from Call of Duty. I didn’t find Lockdown mode very fun, and found it lacked the fundamentals that other games have. It felt really generic, and the already repetitive gameplay didn’t help that.
Then you have case mode, which is all about going through multiple levels and taking out lieutenants before you get to the boss. I think it’s really neat that you have access to a new case every time, but unfortunately it suffers from the same repetitive gameplay as the rest of the game. Case mode, simply scales the difficulty of each mission to start you off easy and get exceedingly more difficult. For those looking for a challenge right away, you’re given the option to select from three difficulties easy, medium, and hard.
One thing case mode does implement to differentiate itself from the other modes is the merit system. During a mission you have your optional objectives and completing them will award you merit. You can spend these merit points to unlock new weapons, Grenades, and attachments.
If you’re looking for more progression elements, RICO does offer a level up system that unlocks traits. Traits give you enhanced abilities and improve your performance. I love seeing progression systems in games, and RICO does a decent job making you feel like you are progressing. It would have been cool to have a few more cosmetics like costumes. There are also weapon skins that you can receive by completing daily challenges.
RICO provides an alright single-player experience, but its main draw is playing it with a friend. Co-op mode provides the similar experience with the added bonus of being able to bust criminals together. Everything stays pretty much the same in co-op besides the bullet time events are triggered only if both players go into a room together.
It honestly just feels more enjoyable to play RICO with a buddy. It’s funny and the gameplay is so ridiculous that having a friend gives you someone to enjoy it with. I had the chance to play the co-op with two of my best friends, and it was definitely more fun coordinating tactics with the two of them. Although, there is more entertainment value in co-op after a while, it still starts to become tedious. It started out as an alright experience, but it didn’t take too long for us to wish there was just a bit more to keep things interesting.
The visuals are really a hit or miss depending on the person. I do like the cel-shaded graphics, as it’s a very unique visual style for the genre. It brightens up the character models and adds some needed color to the levels. Unfortunately the environments look bland, with uninteresting designs and blurry textures. There are pros and cons to the visual style, but I respect what the developers were going for by using it.
I didn’t run into huge technical issues during my time with RICO. There were some pop-ins with the textures that were rough, but I could get through that. My main problem was during local where I had problems with the frame rate. It wasn’t all the time, but any crowded rooms usually caused the game to stutter. I didn’t get the chance to play online, only locally so I can’t say for sure if the problem exists in online play.
Overall I’m happy to see an FPS like RICO make its way to the Switch, and I hope it encourages other developers to bring their FPS titles to the Switch as well. I did have some fun with RICO, however I could never shake the feeling of monotony that would eventually set in every time I picked it up to play. With a bit more variety in gameplay, and a few technical fixes, I think RICO could become something really special. For now though it’s competent and your mileage with it may vary.
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