RICO is not a game that beats around the bush. It’s a roguelike-ish shooter built for co-op that sells that 80s hollywood buddy cop fantasy of punting open doors and clearing out waves of expendable mooks as you work your way up to whatever generic drug kingpin is behind it all. Out now and developed by Ground Shatter, I’ve played a few rounds of the game, and while it feels surprisingly bare-bones in places, there’s something to be said for its fast, two-player co-op focus. See the launch trailer below.
I’ll level with you here – RICO doesn’t make the greatest of first impressions, with its awkward intro featuring some bizarrely wobbly motion-captured overacting. Second impressions aren’t too much better, with the game’s environments mostly being blocky rooms with bad guys randomly strewn around, just waiting to be shot. There’s not even any music during the levels, which feels like a great excuse to put on some 70s cop show tunes, but is also just a little off-putting, considering how many games have had amazing soundtracks lately.
Once the actual door kicking happens it’s pretty fun. It’s simple stuff, with a crouch button and a slide-tackle move, but no jumping. Baddies, once alerted, will keep trying to murder you until they’re all dealt with, and won’t activate until you kick in a procedurally generated door. Each mission has a mixture of objectives, both mandatory (disable 3 bombs before you explode) and optional (collect 11 ‘evidence’). Completing those and getting out of the level in one piece lets you and your pal patch up some of the damage taken before your next fight, and maybe buy a new gun or two. Progress carries between missions within a given 9-stage ‘case’, but win or lose you’re back to square one after that.
You can play RICO solo if you don’t have a pal to share it with (it even supports split-screen play), but I wouldn’t advise it. It throws you a bone in the form of guaranteed bullet-time every time you smash open a door and take the bad guys by surprise, but you’re still going to be watching your own back, and checking every corner as you go. Half the fun of the game seems to be quickly deciding who’s taking which side of a room or entering through which door, then getting the job done ASAP. It’s simple, arcade stuff – not deep or polished, but seems fun enough with a friend.