Reviewed by minusthebrant
- Developer: Ground Shatter
- Publisher: Rising Star Games
- Release Date: 14/3/2019
- Price: $19.99
- Review code provided by Rising Star Games
With so many cooperative based first-person shooting experiences coming, there needs to be a major gameplay hook to keep you coming back. Many of the mid-tier shooters don’t come from AAA developers, but from smaller indie developers who are trying to get a piece of the action. This has been the case for many of the Nintendo Switch’s first-person shooters outside of Doom and Wolfenstein 2. Also, nailing the handheld aspect of control on the Switch has been a major hurdle to overcome and developer Ground Shatter is hoping to craft an experience you can keep coming back to with their title RICO.
The story of RICO takes place in a city overrun by criminal gangs and drug dealers. In a response to the police forces struggle to contain the problem, a special task for is made of cops that don’t follow the rules and get results by any means necessary. You are part of that team brought to the city to contain and get rid of the gang problem. This was an interesting setup and one that did pique my interest in how the story elements would interplay with the gameplay.
Killing In The Name Of
Unfortunately, the intro cutscene that introduces the characters and narrative elements was the only story cutscene in the entire game. It was well executed and did a great job conveying the premise of what RICO is about, but it is relegated to just nothing more than a setup and reel. The actual game is nothing but gameplay and none of the characters even talk during gameplay other than during the tutorial and the intro cutscene. This was disappointing because it would have made for more of a reason to continue and grow a bond with the playable characters.
In terms of gameplay, RICO is a pure first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on co-op play and randomly generated areas. As you go through each game mode you’re going to perform cop clearing room actions, such as kicking down doors, shooting bad guys, procuring evidence, and diffusing bombs. If you were expecting more variables with the modes than you’ve come to the wrong place as this is purely based on clearing rooms and neutralizing enemies.
There is a major component that every player needs to understand with RICO and that is it’s mainly centered around co-op. Every game mode can be played solo or co-op via local split-screen or online. It should be noted, local split-screen can only be played in docked mode and is not available in handheld mode. Also, this is a randomly generated area title and every time you go into a new stage, be it in a Case Operation or Quick Job, all the rooms and floors will be generated randomly. The only things changing are different item placements, enemy placements, and enemy types.
When you get into actual game modes you’ve basically got three options. Quick Job lets you play in short single matches or dive into the training mode. Daily also has short single jobs, but you have more variety and your results will be put on online leaderboards. The third game mode which is the one you’ll probably play the most is Case mode.
With this mode, instead of just doing a single mission you take on a case against a crime boss and this gives you a literal web and net of missions that you can go through. Your job is to go from mission to mission and eventually reach the crime boss and take them out. These are also randomly generated so the missions you get in one case are going to be completely different for the next case. You also have the option to choose whatever path you want and don’t have to stay on one linear path the entire time.
Let The Bullets Fly
Going through each path may be necessary due to when you complete a mission you are given Merits and these allow you to buy new equipment from the armory. These upgrades can range from new weapons to increasing your overall health and defense. The more missions you complete, the more you can upgrade your arsenal and more prepared you can be when you go into the final high difficulty mission. However, you must make sure you don’t run out of lives because if you get a ‘Game Over’, the entire case fails and you start completely over.
When it’s time to actually perform these missions, you’re places in a map with many locked rooms full of enemies, bombs, evidence, and possibly other hazards. Your main task in each mission is to navigate through all the rooms and collect all the evidence so you can leave and go onto the next level. There are also side objectives depending on the mission and what is in each room, such as diffusing bombs, destroying equipment, or taking out so many enemies with headshots. Successfully performing these missions involve kicking down doors and taking out enemies.
Since this is a co-op focused title, it is somewhat difficult when you want to go in solo even on the Easy and Medium difficulties, but they did add some cinematic features to help with that. Whenever you kick down a door you get several seconds of slowed down time for you to pop off a few rounds on the enemies before you actually do a real-time fight. This is an easier way to completely clear out rooms with ease or clear out as much as possible before the real fight starts.
Clear The Rooms
The actual controls and shooting mechanics felt solid, albeit not near on Call of Duty or Battlefield’s level. You’ve got all your basic features, such as running, sprinting, changing weapons, crouching, throwing grenades, and aiming. There are also quite a few recoil physics built into the guns, so it feels more like a AAA shooter than some of the indie shooters that don’t have any recoil at all. I also appreciated the use of gyro controls in handheld mode that made aiming much easier like how you aim in Splatoon. There are many sensitivity options and it helped to make the controls bearable, but I still never quite came to grasp with how the controls felt.
However, no matter how smooth the shooting feels or no matter how well the formula comes together, the basic gameplay felt very generic. The main Case missions did not have story cutscenes attached to them, outside of a name on the menu, so any Case you perform feel exactly similar to one another. There are only slightly different maps and slightly different enemy placements and types. The fact that there are only four different maps to play through does not help RICO to feel any less repetitive or bland very early in the experience.
Campaign mode is non-existent, so you’re basically just going through each similar mission with slight variances multiple times. The length with each operation in the case normally took roughly 10-15 minutes, so the length of each case can vary between 2-3 hours depending on whether you went straight for the boss or methodically approached each mission.
Presentation is hit-or-miss and some details in the environments looked great, while others didn’t. The details on the guns was one highlight, but enemy variety was somewhat lackluster and the enemy AI was not always the most intelligent to deal with. The framerate is smooth for the most part, but it does dip depending on the amount of action, although it never truly hindered my experience. Also, the load times were fairly lengthy, not of the debilitating type but enough to be noticeable.
Overall, RICO is a fun title if you’re a craving a co-op experience on the Switch, but it is also very shallow in presentation and execution. If you have a friend to join you this can be an enjoyable experience, but the rest of the content and modes just don’t live up to what I expect from a first-person shooter experience. It’s hard to recommend as of now, but for the right price point and with a friend could be worth checking out.
- Smooth and solid gameplay
- Fun and enjoyable in co-op
- Lack of modes and replayability
- Generic presentation
- Some slowdown
RICO is a fun and enjoyable shooter with friends, just don’t expect the experience to last long.