RICO for the Nintendo Switch Review

 

RICO

Reviewed by: @micramanic for
@AnyDayReviews
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 14/03/2019
Price: £17.99/$19.99
Developed/
Published By: Ground Shatter/
Rising Star Games

STORY

RICO is an elite Police task force created to take down criminal organisations with extreme prejudice. Made up of some of the forces toughest and experienced cops that will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

You are assigned to San Amaro Police Department, along with a colourful cast of cops from all different backgrounds.

Travis Walker – An Army Ranger veteran.

Sofia Alvarez – An SAPD detective and San Amaro native.

Christine Wei – An FBI agent experienced in taking down terrorist organisations.

Frank Walsh – A ruthless Boston Irish cop who’s used to dealing with the Mafia.

Aside from a very professionally made, fully voiced cutscene when you first fire up the game, the story drops away somewhat, becoming less of the focus.

Gameplay

Described as a procedurally-generated FPS buddy-cop shooter, it certainly does exactly what it says on the box.

In terms of modes it is a little thin on the ground. There are three main modes on offer here;

CASE – This is the main campaign. You have a series of missions to carry out, but with a twist. You only have 24 hours (in-game) in which to finish them. Fail to complete all set objectives and you fail that particular mission.
QUICK – Quick is subdivided into three more modes.
OPERATION – A basic randomly generated map where the soul objective is to clear all the rooms of hostiles.
TRAINING – Your opportunity to hone your skills and practice against static targets whilst against the clock.
LOCKDOWN – Lockdown is essentially your endless/survival/horde mode or whatever you like to call it. You are given an open map and constant waves of baddies to dispatch.

You also have a Daily mode which will throw you into an online game that rotates daily.

However most of your time will be spent in the campaign or multiplayer as this is how you level up and unlock more weapons. As you progress in level you unlock Traits for your characters to which there are 13.
Each character can equip up to 3 traits and these can be swapped out in the character setup menu. Traits come in different flavours, from the basic “increased aim accuracy” and “increased weapon damage” to the more outlandish “reduced damage whilst sliding” and “2% health restoration per cleared room.”

As mentioned before each room is procedurally generated and thus each playthrough will be unique. The main issue I had with this, however is each level is themed the same, clearing various samey looking office buildings and warehouse’s.

This also has a knock-on effect to load times which I found a little long for my taste, considering the cut and paste nature of each map and enemies, no music and nothing in the way of dialogue.

You’ll be fighting to clear all the rooms whilst trying to complete sub-objectives, such as collecting evidence or destroying equipment, all before reinforcements show up.

Multiplayer comes in the form of 2 player co-op, either locally or online. I didn’t try local co-op but I did play a few games online. Unfortunately this suffers the same setbacks as other online co-op games, in which it really lacks voice chat for that tactical edge.
Controls

If you’ve ever played an FPS you’ll feel right at home with RICO. Aim and shoot are mapped to the triggers, set waypoint with L, Y to reload, X to switch weapon. Pressing A crouches but let’s you slide whilst sprinting. This comes in very handy as each door you kick down by hitting B triggers a bullet time effect.
There are plenty of tweaks you can make to the controls like remapping and sensitivity.

There is even the option for motion controls. Whilst I never tried them out a huge amount I can see the benefit of them, even if it’s just to fine tune your aim.

Overall I found the controls fairly intuitive and tight, which is very impressive for a smaller budgeted game.

Graphics

Ground Shatter has opted for a unique cel-shaded aesthetic for RICO which in my opinion is a breath of fresh air. Sitting somewhere between a Borderlands game and a comic book, it combines solid colours with black outlines to create a striking visual treat. All character models, weapons and enemies are rendered in 3D it has to be seen to be believed.

As much as the art design is the standout feature, I never felt that it came together quite as good as it should’ve. As mentioned earlier, the locations are bland and repetitive and the enemies are repeated several times, even on the same map. With a little more variation to enemy sprites and map design, I feel it could’ve made a good game an excellent one.

It saddens me to say that the game doesn’t run at it’s best in docked mode. Whilst the clarity of the visuals isn’t the problem here, the main culprit is the frame rate. It suffers from a lot of dropped frames and slow down.

On a more grandiose game I might’ve forgiven some of this, but given how small each map is and the fact nothing really happens until you kick a door in, it’s not really acceptable. Especially since it doesn’t load the maps at breakneck speed.

It doesn’t get any better in online mode either as I did notice significant lag, which was a shame.

It does however run perfectly smooth in handheld mode.
Let’s hope these issues can be resolved with a patch.

Sound

When you first fire up the game you a treated to a really cool hip hop style beat to the backing of the cutscene. This is also present at the title screen and in the menus.
Sadly you get nothing whilst in the game itself. What you do get however is some satisfying gun sound effects and explosions.

Everytime you kick a door down you get some vague ambience sound bite that plays, clearly to add a sense of tension. This is a nice touch, until you’ve heard it about 50 times in a play session, then it just gets old.

Couple this with some quite frankly disturbing enemy grunts, in particular the baseball bat wielding skinheads that make an almost zombie like roar.

It’s these sound effects that are it’s greatest weakness as they all sound very low quality, almost compressed. Some more spoken dialogue from the enemies would’ve helped with the immersion in my opinion.

With that said, the fully voice acted cutscene is done remarkably well and I wish there was more of this throughout.

Value

This is a double edged sword. On the one hand fans of FPS games are probably going to really enjoy RICO. However those looking for a deep immersive story with developing character profiles will be disappointed.

I’m a huge fan of the art design and I like the ambition of the project, though it is clear to see it needed more time in the oven, or at least a bigger budget.

Coming in at £17.99/$19.99 I find it a little expensive for what it is. RICO has clearly been inspired by other “Siege Shooters” (yep I’m coining that term!) on the market such as the Payday and Rainbow Six games, however I felt it just didn’t do enough with it.

For me it lacked immersion and meaningful content, such as a deep story and character development. Especially after the initial impressive cutscene that really fires you up, only to drop you in a repetitive set of scenarios.

There is fun to be had with multiplayer if you can get a friend over, though I feel the lack of voice chat will kill the online side of it for many.

Verdict

I saw a lot of potential in RICO even if most of it wasn’t fully realised.
Some great art work with solid (if sparse) voice acting.

If you fancy living out your dreams of being a “Narc Cop” then you’ll enjoy this one, if not steer clear.

Needs Improvement

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Game provided by Ground Shatter Games.

Neil

Gamer enthusiast, huge Nintendo fan and of anything retro. Fulfilling my dream of writing game reviews, thanks to AnyDayReviews.

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