Bodies flail as bullets shred the room. Somewhere, in the carnage of the last 20 seconds, a fire extinguisher caught by an errant round explodes, sending thugs cartwheeling in an explosion of white gunk.
RICO isn’t a realistic co-op shooter, but it’s not trying to be. Instead, it’s taking aim at buddy cop flicks like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon or Tango and Cash. You play as a hard-bitten cop trying to bring down a criminal racket, with a co-op partner available via local or online play. The pair of you roll through randomly generated buildings busting randomly generated criminals to take down a randomly generated crime organisation.
The clock is always ticking as you kick ass and take names, threatening heavily armoured reinforcements and a lower score for tardiness.
Indeed, during my play-session game director James Parker, also the founder of the game’s developers Groundshatter Games, keeps time like a murderous metronome charging from door to door. Remaining in sync is useful here, as breaching doors at the same time kicks the game into a brief moment of slow motion, a valuable edge on the hordes of criminals you have to cut through for each level.
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If murdering drug dealers leaves you feeling queasy, there’s always the option of non-lethally beating them unconscious with a baton, but the violence here is overblown: think Robocop shooting up the cocaine factory mid-way through the first movie and you’re most of the way there. It’s cartoonish, miles from the realistic violence peddled by the recent spate of jingoistic AAA war-’em-ups.
Die and you fail the case, which means you lose all of your upgrades and have to start from scratch. Losing access to your armoury and perks might suck, briefly, but each weapon was a joy to handle with somewhat unique tactics, so as the age-old adage goes: sometimes it’s better to die with the shotgun so you can take the machine pistol for a spin.
RICO’s mix of arcadey shooting, replayable co-op action and 80’s buddy cop stylings could make this a promising offering to those who don’t have the time required to invest into a AAA shooter, offering the most bang for your time-buck. Better yet, it’s fast-paced shooting is a great fit for the Switch, offering a quick 5-10 minute burst of play to fit perfectly with a train journey or extended bathroom break.
RICO launches in ‘Q1 2019’, whatever that translates to, and will be released for the Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.
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