- Developer: Pixel Crow
- Publisher: 11-bit Studios
- Release Date: 05/03/2019
- Price: $14.99, £13.49
- Review code provided by 11-bit Studio
Officer Jack Kelly is on the mean streets of an ’80s action movie Brooklyn, New York, a disgraced Detective demoted and, framed for murder. With no one to call for back up as everyone hates him, this is Kelly’s last chance to clear his name.
To do this Kelly will need to keep his beat clean and free of crime and write up tickets, as after all, he is a Beat Cop.
Beat Cop is based around one street within Brooklyn, consisting of shops, flats, eateries and a church. The street is inhabited by locals, gangs and some of the worst inconsiderate drivers to grace the streets of New York.
What type of cop will you be?
Noble and all about justice and upholding the law?
A bent cop taking bribes and cleaning up messes?
There is always the opportunity to toe the line between good and bad cop, make some money here, stop crime there, turn the blind eye. Whichever you want to be on the beat is up to you but be ready for the consequences of your actions.
Beat Cop is split into days, each starting at the precinct where the Captain will either rip Kelly a new one or praise him on the previous day’s work., along with giving out the quota of tickets needed as well as any other particular tasks. After this, you are able to talk to the other Cops in the briefing. For me this is where some of the best writing and banter happens, with each cop having some of the funniest lines within the game, while still hating Kelly.
Most of the gameplay happens on the street and is against the clock, where every interaction and decision made will impact on the story. There will be drug dealers trying to get your custom, the Mafia attempting to get you to do ‘favours,’ not to mention Kelly’s standing with the police and the public. Kelly’s current standing will change depending on how each group treat him, all the while trying to hit the ticket quota for cars with smashed lights, for example, breaking up fights and catching thieves. It makes for some really tense under pressure decisions. Some of the in-game events can take up quite considerable chunks of time, adding to the amount of content and value for money.
Not only is there the pressure of the job, but there is also the added pressure of making enough money for Kelly’s wife and kids. This makes doing well somewhat of an incentive as you have bills to pay and doing well will net you a bonus pay each day. Under performance or illegal actions (well, getting caught at least) will result in the wage being docked and maybe even Kelly losing his job.
Quota Just Missed
Beat Cop is a terrific narrative story driven game, with many endings and branching story paths to follow. On top of being inspired by the ’80s Police action movies, this game initially had me hooked. It was not until a few hours in the cracks started to appear.
The gameplay loop was sort of boring after a with the main aim being to talk up and down and give tickets out to the bad drivers in New York. The monotony was broken up by in-game events that you can do, for instance, investigating a murder. This will take an hour off your day as you have to interview a few witnesses, then call it in.
During the day people will talk to you and ask for help. These are optional side quests and happen in the most inopportune times. An example being when I was asked to rescue a cat with only 30 minutes left of the day. Needless to say, I failed. Then my score with the public dropped as a consequence of this. I can only think that perhaps I did not do something sooner to initiate the mission.
Some of the writing was hit and miss, along with some tasks as well. At one point its all guns blazing the next it is picking up groceries for an old lady. This for me was just begged the question as to why?
I thought someone was killed on your beat, why are we going to buy doughnuts?!
Along with that, some of the narrative was trying too hard to keep with the action movie theme, it did not come across and flow naturally; it seemed forced and broke the feeling of tension.
Pixel Crow has done an amazing job with the soundtrack, it has all the ’80s electro-pop funkiness anyone could ever want. I loved the music so much that I would gladly go out and buy the soundtrack for this.
The sound effects are also damn good, the cars driving by, the sirens on the police cruisers etc all contributing to enhance the immersion. The only thing really missing would be some Clint Eastwood-esque Dirty Harry style voice acting.
A word of warning when playing Beat Cop. The game emulates the ’80s style theme and social and political climate accurately. There is a ton of swearing, adult humour and jokes, along with what I would guess would be considered offensive content for some people today. But if you understand this a game imitating life in the ’80s, and within the context of the game, this is what life was back then.
I did enjoy my time with Beat Cop, the main story and some side tasks were engaging and fun and were accompanied by some genuine laugh out loud moments, all mixed in with some high tension and story changing decisions. It is not perfect, and some games have done it better, but it is still a very good game and worth playing.