25th Mar2019

‘Beat Cop’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

Beat-Cop-Screen

An 80’s-tastic mash-up involving the impossible time-management of Papers, Please mixed with the procedural stiffness of Sierra’s classic Police Quest, Beat Cop is a mobile port that raises above the chaff and fits well on home consoles with its retro aesthetic and hectic gameplay.

After a pretty stylish intro you take control of Detective Stone, a cop who has supposedly been involved in a recent jewel theft and is therefore under a lot of suspicion in the department. You are assigned a single street beat and given a tour of the local businesses and get acquainted with the (very colourful) local characters. Not long after you are shown around your partner is gunned down in a drive-by. Who is responsible? Who should you trust? Can you be bothered to make your daily quota of parking tickets? There’s only one way to fine out…hit that beat, baby.

Each of the 21 in-game days starts with you at the station getting given your goals (and also getting generally harassed by your colleagues), whilst initially being pretty simple such as ticketing cars illegally parked and the like, it soon ramps up in complexity and becomes clear that you just cannot keep so many plates spinning in the air because not only are you doing your job, you are clearing your name, deciding which of the local factions to side with (if any) as well as finding out who is responsible for killing your partner. Ah yeah…and you have alimony payments to make, sheesh.

The music in Beat Cop is as you’d expect, synth-tastic and wonderfully squelchy, the atmosphere is rich throughout. The language also reflects not the time itself but the representation of the time as captured through the action movies of the era so there are some racial slurs and strong language used, which probably could have been dumbed down to appeal to a wider audience as the real humour comes from the animations and comedic exchanges as opposed to the heavier side of things, so just something to be aware of if that’s not your jam.

The game play is fun and suitably hectic, it gets genuinely tense as you rush around, earning cash and deciding whether or not to take bribes to make your life easier at the expense of your credibility, the control scheme is also really accessible and I loved the foreground usage of key items such as gun, handcuffs and notebook, it’s presented really well.

I usually take against mobile ports as they show off the inherent weaknesses of the mobile platform, designed as they are for quantity of time over quality and I was pleasantly surprised by Beat Cop as the first time I heard of it was when a friend said they absolutely loved the game…but admittedly were playing it whilst stuck on a non-moving train for a while and so literally had nothing else that they could do. I was sceptical that this skewed their impartiality but no, it is a really solid, fun game.

You won’t be able to do everything in Beat Cop and the sheer amount of choices and thus branching paths, as well as the relatively steep difficulty means that the game stand up well to repeated plays, I’ve not enjoyed managing my time for quite some…time.

Well, what are you waiting for? HIT THAT BEAT!

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