|Developed by:||Pixel Crow|
|Published by:||11 bit studios|
|Format played:||Mobile – Android|
The streets are a dirty place. Have you got what it takes to clean them up?
After a shakedown goes wrong, resulting in the death of a burglar and some jewellery going walkabout, Jack Kelly finds himself busted down and reassigned to the grubby New York streets as a Beat Cop. It’s up to you to try and figure out what happened to the gems and why you were framed for murder, all whilst keeping up with your allocation of parking tickets, busting perps and keeping the locals onside.
Edd first reviewed Beat Cop way back in March 2017 when it released onto Steam but with the game having now made its way to mobile platforms, it’s time to take a second look. Developed by Polish team Pixel Crew, Beat Cop is a retro styled adventure with old school pixel graphics. Action is viewed from side on and you guide Officer Kelly around the screen by simply tapping where you want to go (or double tapping for a burst of sprint) or by tapping on and interacting with people and objects.
As the name suggests, you have a beat to patrol and this forms the bulk of your actions. Levels are split into days and at the start of each, your commanding officer dishes out the orders, together with a colourful summary of how you performed the previous day. Your core tasks are enforcing traffic rules by doling out tickets for things like poor parking or tyre wear, as well as conversing with the various inhabitants, but your day very quickly becomes more complicated than that.
Hitting the streets in your first week, you are eased in with some simple meet and greets of the locals before handing out parking fines. Approaching an offending vehicle, you can choose to search the car, check the parking meter, run the rule over the tyres and dish out the appropriate ticket. Brilliantly they don’t have to be in violation of anything, you can give out a ticket just because. Beware though, angry motorists will soon complain to your Captain, whilst others may interrupt your ticket writing to try and get off with a bribe.
As you walk along the street you are occasionally stopped in your tracks by a citizen who either wants your help, say for a lost cat or mislaid piece, or wants to offer a slice of action on the side. Similarly you can pop into the various shops dotted around the street and chat with the owners, the pizza shop a hub of activity that may line your pockets with a little extra at the risk of compromising your integrity. It took me a little while to get into the flow of the game and my first playthrough was a disaster as I washed out before the first week was over. Once you get into the groove and are able to pick up the pace, things become a little easier. The first thing to keep note of is the time. You have a set number of hours each day, during which you must complete the tasks assigned at the station as well as keeping on top of any activities that come up during your shift. Often times you’ll be in the middle of writing up a ticket when you suddenly get a radio call about a punk who needs to be arrested, a chore that needs completing or a meeting you need to make. You’ll have to make good use of your trusty notepad to keep on top of who needs what, where you need to go and what you’re supposed to do when you get there. Each of these tasks are optional, as indeed are the orders of your Captain. However each task completed adds points to your daily tallies for police work, community and good old fashioned cash. The more tasks you complete, the more you earn and the better rapport you build, all of which help you to progress the story.
You only have one street to patrol but for a mobile game it is just the right size of playing area. It’s big enough to take time to walk from one end of the street to the other with plenty of distractions along the way but small enough that you soon get to know where certain key locations are, which becomes important when you have to get to time sensitive meet ups or busts. The fixed time limit for each day also plays well to the sort of quick burst gameplay that suits the handheld gamer, each session long enough to feel relatively substantial without over staying its welcome.
Underpinning all of this is an unabashed 80s vibe, a homage to a decade of classic cop shows. Incidental details abound from the cinema playing Top Gun, Big Trouble In Little China and Karate Kid, to the strange Russian guy you find yourself babysitting you displays a rather unhealthy fascination with Rocky IV. Combined with the unique pixel art style, it’s a real throwback that captures something of the spirit of the decade.
Beat Cop is a quirky game. It is undoubtedly fun just walking around and interacting with the world but very quickly becomes manic as you rush to try and complete all tasks. Inevitably though there is an element of repetition, writing out your tenth parking ticket of the day soon becoming tiresome. The little asides help to add some variety and are played with a good dose of humour (that old lady still isn’t talking to me after I made her dog sick) and you are rarely left with nothing to do or see. There are some issues though. Perhaps it’s just my fat fingers but I often had trouble getting Kelly to just where I wanted to be or getting him to interact with the person I wanted to. I would be stood right next to the guy but the game wouldn’t register that I was clicking on the chap, trying to talk to him, and the side mission would time out and be marked a failure. Catching thieves usually means haring down the street before whipping out your cuffs and whilst this is usually fine, sometimes the crime happens towards the end of the street, barely giving you any time to get to him before he escapes off screen and out of your jurisdiction. I also had a couple of technical issues, including more than once when I was stuck on the loading screen for minutes at a time as the game assured me it was synchronising my saves.
My main issue though was with the scripting. Most of the characters throw around swear words for no obvious reason. It is clear that the game is played for laughs but a lot of the interaction between characters, especially your fellow officers, is simply juvenile. And there is so much of it, to the extent that I was reduced to simply tapping my way through it as fast as possible, barely bothering to read most of the shoddy dialogue, simply eager to get on with the next bit of action, any tasks that come out of the seemingly endless chatter captured on my note pad in any event.
Fun in spurts, Beat Cop translates well to the mobile format. A terrific 80s vibe combines well with a superb pixel look, the package let down by poor scripting and an underlying sense of repetition to the core gameplay.