I pop my head out from my hiding hole to see that there’s still drama everywhere. It’s probably best to lay low for a while, have a pint and wait for everything to sort itself out. I pop back into my hole but look down at the copy of Beat Cop in my hands. This game deserves a review, at very least so people know they should go and get a copy. I bravely stick my head back out into the drama filled wasteland. Beat Cop is a good game!
A while ago there was an indie game called ‘Papers, Please‘ which was fantastic. The game took a very simple gameplay loop and a mundane job, border control in an Eastern European nation, but made the game hold weight. You had to balance the increasingly hard gameplay, the need to make enough money to keep your family afloat and keeping your humanity intact. This game had me riveted from start to finish and I’ve been waiting for a game to pick up the torch. While Beat Cop is not exactly that sequel it’s the closest I’ve found and there’s enough new stuff for me to highly recommend this one.
In Beat Cop you take the role of a recently disgraced detective who’s been busted down to the role of, you guessed it, a beat cop for a crime he didn’t commit. The clichés are rampant in this one and the cheesiness makes me giggle more than it should. You’re job now is to get back on the street and do your job, while of course clearing your name and trying to juggle the factions on your street. It’s not just about writing tickets and stopping crimes but also about deciding which fights are worth taking. Not every situation is black and white and not every arrest is worth making. This moral and ethical quandary is where the Papers, Please parallel comes in. You can be the good little policeman, but that’s not always the best course of action on a street run by the mafia and a ruthless gang. The story itself runs as an 80s cop show would, with all the brash sexism and violence you’d expect (not saying that’s a good thing folks, but those were the times), and in my opinion it’s a good story. It kept me intrigued at least a little for a large section of the game and made turning the game off quite the challenge.
The gameplay itself suffers from the classic ‘it’s repetitive but that’s kind of the point’ syndrome that Paper, Please and other games suffer from. You go about your day to day on the same pixel beat and doing the same jobs that a cop does. You give tickets to illegally parked cars, you stop shoplifters and you generally act like a cop does. While all this is fun in itself it does get slightly dull doing the same thing over and over again. The game is well split up with unique decisions to make and story elements but when the meat of your time is spent calling tow trucks there’s an argument to be made that gameplay is a slight issue. I wouldn’t say that the game is made worse for the gameplay but it doesn’t add as much as the rich theme, choice driven experience and retro graphics.
Smooth segue Will. The graphics are awesome. As someone who was brought up at the very end of the big pixel era of gaming these kinds of games take me back to when bright colours and funky soundtracks were the norm. A grimy street that would be all sepia and greyscale in a more modern looking game is made lively with bright cars and colourful graffiti. The game is clear and all menus and text is also easy to read, making the experience much easier than some other games I’ve played recently. The soundtrack is also vibrant and fun, although after a while I did revert to my classic Spotify gaming tunes, but it certainly had its charms and is nothing to ignore in the first periods of your play through. These sterling and positive graphics help to tip the game from interesting into down right great.
Overall, Beat Cop gets a good 8/10 score from me. While the gameplay isn’t anything to write home about it is simple to play, the story and theme are both well written and well executed, and the graphics have that all important nostalgic feel. I would highly recommend anyone who enjoys games that are maybe a little older to pick this one up.
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