Monday, 01 April 2019 05:45

RICO Review

Written by

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

RICO, developed by Ground Shatter and published by Rising Star Games, is a new roguelike first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on co-op. The story is non-existent, aside from an opening cutscene that explains that criminal organizations are running rampant and that you are part of a special task force that's been given the permission to take them out with lethal force. The main mode involves a branching series of missions that all lead to a final confrontation to solve a "case" in under 24 hours (not real time).


Each mission plays largely the same, tasking players with clearing out each room in a randomly-generated environment, as well as performing additional side activities. Completing each objective rewards "merits," which can be spent between missions on new weapons, attachments, health, and various other goodies to help you gain the upper hand. Die once, however, and everything you've accumulated disappears and has to be re-earned.

As you make your way through a level, side objectives often pop up, such as destroying hardware or disarming bombs. Frustratingly, completing these side objectives doesn't earn you any additional bonuses or merits, making them seem like a waste of time. The bomb-disarming side objectives, specifically, are frustrating because once you discover a bomb, you have a limited amount of time to find and disarm all bombs on that floor. The map doesn't tell you where they are, so it's a mad dash of frantically breaching rooms and praying to find them in time. In later missions, the miniscule amount of time makes it barely feasible to accomplish. Failing these tasks results in death and failing the entire case. This feels cheap and unwarranted.  

What you'll be spending most of your time doing, however, is kicking doors down and pumping a room of bad guys full of lead. Once you breach a room you get a precious few moments of slow motion to take out the majority of attackers. Sprinting into a slide and taking out everybody in the room before the "bullet time" runs out never gets old. This core gameplay loop of breaching, eliminating, and completing side objectives is also kept a little less stale by the fact that levels are randomly generated. That being said, the random generation is never so varied as to feel wholly unique, and also suffers from making the environments feel less organic and more like a maze of strangely connected doors and hallways.  


While RICO can certainly be fairly enjoyable on its own, the title is definitely meant to be played in co-op, mostly due to the rather punishing difficulty of later stages. And while bursting into a room with a buddy and taking out all the thugs can be exhilarating fun, the co-op has one major problem: the slow-motion ability that happens after each door breach only happens if you and your co-op partner breach the same room at the same time. RICO is hard enough in later levels with the advantage of bullet time, but if you're like me and often get co-op partners who run around doing their own thing, then death is inevitable, as you have to take out everyone in real time.  

Rounding out the whole package, aside from case mode, are some daily challenges that involve one-off missions, and a horde mode. Completing daily challenges rewards RP, which you can spend to unlock weapon skins. Speaking of weapons, I was surprised by the large variety of weapons on offer. You get your typical AK-47, Desert Eagle, and pump-action shotgun, but I was surprised by how many guns were available that I had never heard of before. To be fair, my knowledge of firearms is far from comprehensive.

On a down note, I will say that I was left unimpressed by the sound design of the weapons. None of them packed the auditory punch I hope for in an FPS. Speaking of which, I also find it pretty strange that there is absolutely no music playing in any mission. You don't realize how much a soundtrack adds to a title until there isn't one.


The Verdict: Good

RICO is a fun and fairly addicting time-waster that's let down by some unfortunate mission design choices, and a co-op mode that doesn't incentivize sticking together and teamwork. The sound department is lacking, but that being said, the core shooting and breaching mechanics never get old. If you're interested in fast-paced arcadey combat, then RICO will probably scratch that itch.

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Caleb Bailey

Caleb is a game reviewer who is way more of a nostalgic curmudgeon than any 25 year old has any right to be. He enjoys shooters, open world games and is a huge believer in virtual reality's potential. His guilty pleasure movie of choice is The Neverending Story which he still shamefully watches because it was his childhood favorite. He hopes to one day ride Falkor the Luckdragon in VR because that is what he means when he says virtual reality has potential.


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