It’s been a while, eh? Myself, not being a PC gamer in any real capacity, had always had Beat Cop on the forefront of my mind as a game I’d like to see ported over to us poor console owners. It’s a game that oozes style and substance, and I had taken the decision to await a release on a system that wasn’t going to laugh at me for trying to run it. Fortunately, Beat Cop has finally landed on consoles so I’ve taken the PS4 version for a spin.
So what on earth are you up to in this particular pixellated police party? You play as Jack Kelly – about as generic a name as you could ever imagine – a cop who has been demoted after being framed for murder after an operation went a tad arry. Kelly has been forced patrol the streets of a rather rundown part of the city whilst the case is ongoing. You’re tasked with handing out tickets on illegally parked cars, getting to know the locals, keeping an eye on hoodlums and chasing down thieves from a variety of shops that you need to check in with every so often.
Each ‘level’ is referred to as a chapter, and played out over a single day. Each day plays out with familiar beats; ticketing cars, talking to local business owners and keeping an eye on the streets for the hoodlums. You’re given orders for the day from your cliche-ridden sargeant and you have to check off as much as you can throughout your shift. The game seems to want to remind you that it’s ok if you can’t do everything, which is a bit odd simply because you can be punished at the end of each shift if you follow this advice. It’s a bit at odds with itself in this regard.
Away from the petty criminal aspect though, you need to make sure you stay on the right side of the rival gangs that operate in the area, namely the Mafia and the Crew. Seeing as you’re new to the area they’ll be testing you throughout and from here you’ll be judged by how you deal with their requests and actions by the gangs, the police and the public of the area. You’re welcome to deal with them however you see fit so if you want to try out the whole ‘bad cop’ routine the game isn’t going to stop you. Accepting bribes and turning a blind eye to organised crime is just part and parcel with being a cop on these streets, it would seem.
Reading this review makes it seem like the game is just an awful lot of busy work and mostly, it is. It’s repetitive, very drawn out and feels almost impossible to respond to everything – again, the game encourages you to not follow every lead -, but once you get into the rhythm of Beat Cop the gameplay becomes smooth as silk. The story plays out in humourous ways, though there are times the script didn’t sit well with me, portraying Kelly and his fellow cops as very much men of their time (sexist and racism play a strong part in their dialogue to each other). There’s a disclaimer at the very beginning that’s basically ‘hey, this is all fun, so don’t take it seriously’ and what-not and that’s cool but some choices are made that appear are added for nothing more than just including them for no real reason. The characters are underbaked because of this, and serve little purpose than that move conversations along. Fortunately you can skip through all the dialogue with a quick tap of X if you want to just get back to the game.
Still, there’s definitely fun to be had and once the story really takes off it’s told well. Kelly’s murder case is dripped into the story throughout and it’s by the far most interesting and engaging aspect of the narrative. Weaving in and out fro, your daily beat tasks and learning more about what happened that night is primarily what kept me playing, and is designed to keep you guessing.
I feel like this is the kind of game I should have picked up for the PC after all and just powered through, or even for the Switch. It feels like a game I want to chip away at over time rather than sit in front of my sofa and devote hours of my attention to it in one go. The story is good though the gameplay can feel a little flat at times and given the fact you can fail so easily just by taking the orders of the game, it can feel somewhat disjointed.
Beat Cop is available now on PC and consoles (PS4 version reviewed on PS4 Pro)
Developer: Pixel Crow
Publisher: 11bit Studios
Disclaimer, in order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please head here.
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