RICO (Switch) | Review

RICO is about as stripped down as a cop-themed co-op shooter can get. No need to fuss over annoying story details or deep shooting mechanics, as Ground Shatter’s procedurally-generated FPS quite literally sums up its own premise as “kick doors, shoot men”, so it’s pretty self-aware. It might bring a bit of joy to any wannabe-mavericks who’re after a mindless shooter, but its repetitive gameplay is further tainted by numerous technical issues.

In it, you’ll be raiding criminal-filled locations, from spacious mansions to cramped apartments. In Case Mode, the core objectives are usually the same across each mission: kick open every door, kill every thug in the room, and move onto the next. Often, you’ll be given additional tasks as you progress, like collecting evidence, destroying computers, and defusing bombs before they blow everything up. Little will change as you progress through the main mode, aside from the increasing enemy count and maybe an additional objective or two to toss onto the hefty pile.

Barrels and extinguishers can be shot to kill or stun enemies. It’s a shame that there aren’t many other environmental hazards to use to your advantage, though.

Basically, it’s a lot of shooting ‘n’ stealing, and, as mentioned before, it does feel pretty samey. The level layouts are randomized, and it’s enough to make them stand out from one another to an extent, though some areas are blocked off by sofas or shelves that you can’t walk around.  It can feel tense at times, moreso when you’re having to scrounge for health and ammo with numerous goons chasing after you. Speaking of which, your health is carried over from level to level, and dying will send you back to the start, so there’s at least a high-risk, high-reward twinge to complicate things. Bailing out of a mission early is an option, but you won’t reap any rewards if the core objectives of the level are not met. 

Combat is usually broken up into short bursts of lead-spewing action. One thing that never gets old is when slo-mo kicks in after breaching into a room. You’ll get a few sweet seconds to plug any unsuspecting foes before the speed returns to normal. Melee attacks and sliding will take down foes surprisingly quickly, providing you can get close. Besides, getting a one-hit kill by punting someone in their shins is always a joy, much like pulling off headshots in slow-motion.

The other game modes are pretty lackluster, like a barebones survival mode, a daily challenge with randomized loadouts, and a simplistic challenge mode where you can unlock weapon skins.

The enemy AI is awfully barmy. These gangsters and goons tend to stay in one room ready to be ambushed by you (sometimes they’ll get impatient and smash open the door for a surprise attack). The first thing they’ll tend to do is to shoot you while moving as little as possible, with exception to the melee-centric foes. Even then, chances are they’ll accidentally kill any of their buddies that cluelessly walk in front of them. Hey, at least you’ve got a sizeable shooting gallery that’ll put up a fair bit of resistance, but that’s mostly due to the sheer number of them.

During each mission in RICO, you can pack a primary weapon along with a side-arm and grenade-type, though looting enemy guns is a no-no, as collecting them will just add more ammo to whatever’s in your loadout. Weapons and attachments must be purchased with Merit Points, which are earned from completing objectives. You’ll also earn XP, and will be awarded with bonus perks to slap onto yourself before entering a mission. Progression isn’t too grindy, and you’ll be compensated fairly for your efforts.

Co-op mode isn’t that much better than playing it solo. You’ll struggle to find online players, but split-screen is still an option.

The soundtrack is made up of a bland selection of looped hip-hop beats, and some of the noises that the weapons make sound like weedy pop guns. Its sorta-kinda cel-shaded visuals are pretty sweet, though, as it almost makes it look like XIII and Borderlands. Alas, RICO is not well-optimized for the Switch, as seen by its issues with texture pop-up, collision, frame rate and lengthy loading times. The game is prone to crashing, which’ll flush most of your hard work down the toilet if you’re unlucky enough. Since it’ll count the last mission you entered as a failure, you can’t replay it, meaning you gotta follow a different path in order to reach the final mission. Even if it’ll only take about an hour or so to get there, it’s still a piss-take.  

RICO is a fairly simplistic FPS that struggles to leave an impression, and that’s sadly down to its rinse-and-repeat gameplay. It tends to feel like a copy-and-paste job through each level, and thus lacks variety. Its tech issues are a huge problem and drag what is an okay-ish game down even further. It’s a shame, since the shooting is on-par. It can be quite fun when you’re having to rush around to save the day as waves of incoming enemies appear, though. Still, with all of this said, skipping out on it wouldn’t be a criminal offence. 

Review code donated by developers.



2 Stars

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