Now and again a videogame comes along with a premise and aims to refine it so much that the resulting experience is engaging. By focusing on a few core features the developers can polish the gameplay to a point that hours will pass before players become bored. In the case of RICO these two focus points are kicking in doors and shooting a lot of bad guys. With the option to team up with a friend and live out the life of being a loose cannon police detective, what could possibly go wrong? Well, sadly, a lot.
RICO sells itself as being a buddy cop inspired shooter that gives the player the chance to let loose and take down criminal gangs. With procedurally-generated levels, a wide array of weapons and items to unlock and slow-motion door kicking and shooting, RICO presents players with a lot to experiment with. That said, no matter how you want to breach into a room you’ll have to kick in the door. You can slide-kick the door open but you have to open the door before doing anything else. Flashbangs are also available but, again you’ll need to open the door and then throw it in.
RICO doesn’t reinvent first-person shooter gameplay either and keeps it pretty simple. You want to fire from the hip? Aim Down sights? Attach a scope and a laser sight? All valid options and ways to approach the game. The weight and impact of weapons, from the animation to the sound effects are, however, less than ideal and more often than not are underwhelming. Add to this the muzzle flash that blinds you when you fire and you have gunplay that isn’t going to be winning any awards, albeit functional.
But wait, you don’t have to go through this alone and thanks to local and online co-op you and a friend can team up to take down the criminal underworld. The benefit to this, beyond having the added fun of a friend, is that you can extend the amount of bullet time you get when entering a room. You see, when you kick open a door there is a brief window of bullet time to add some flair to the experience. When playing with a friend you can breach a room at the same time to get an extended amount of this, often being enough to clear the room.
The odd thing about RICO is that the mission structure takes place in procedurally-generated levels in a roguelike progress system. You start a ‘case’ and work your way through a web of different levels, each with their own objective and difficulty level, to take down the boss at the end. Along the way you will earn points to unlock more weapons and items but should you fail it is game over and you must start again. The system works but the level generation is somewhat faulted in how it creates many of the levels. It works as intended but there is nothing overly inspiring about the levels and the lack of variety in the environments is disappointing.
Outside of the main game mode of undertaking a ‘case’ players will also have the chance to go on training missions, complete daily challenge levels and even survive in a wave-based mode. The latter is a boring experience due to the fact it removes the need to kick open doors which, as you might have guessed, makes the gameplay kind of pointless. RICO works best when you and a friend are rapidly clearing rooms, unloading plenty of bullets into enemies and having a right laugh. When one of those components is removed RICO is lifeless.
Presentation is a bit hit and miss as well with the visuals being somewhat dull and lifeless accompanied by rocky performance. Most of the time the framerate will remain at a stable or at least playable state but throughout my time with RICO I encountered numerous frame drops, plenty of input lag and a handful of crashes. This isn’t helped by a menu and UI that does not meld well with keyboard and mouse. Also, there is no music while you play and the characters do not speak, making this buddy cop shooter more like a silent movie.
As it stands, RICO feels like an unfinished product that has an interesting and promising core idea that is ultimately let down by numerous issues. With some time and maybe the addition of, say, a point system or style meter, RICO could be a fantastic and highly enjoyable experience. For now though it is fun with a friend for a few hours but will quickly become dull and tedious. You might be best just watching a buddy cop film.
RICO (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
RICO is fun with a friend but don't expect more than a few hours of enjoyment.