RICO Review: Nonsensical FPS Fun

by David Sanchez April 28, 2019 @ 8:40 pm

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

RICO is a strange shooter. On the one hand, it looks like an early era PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 game. On the other hand, it plays like a late era PlayStation 2 or Xbox game. Oddly enough, that’s part of the game’s charm, and what you get is a game that feels more old than old school but still somehow manages to succeed at making you want to return to its weird pulp world.

Task Force Mumbo Jumbo

In RICO, you assume the role of four ragtag agents tasked with taking out the sleaziest of the sleazy. Your task force boss briefs you on the basics of your job in an opening cutscene that shows one dude boxing with a punching bag. Yes, this is that type of game. It’s silly, it’s brash, and it doesn’t give a damn. That goofiness is actually partially why RICO may just win you over. You can skip that opening cinematic, but its absurdity makes it worth a watch — just the one time, though.

Case mode is the main campaign and features branching paths with multiple targets to take down. Each case has a ridiculous title such as “Smelly Poker Face” or “Bashful Phantom.” Missions are randomly generated, as are the structures you’ll be infiltrating as you hunt down the scum of the earth. The level of unpredictability is high, and you never know how many enemies will be waiting on the other side of a door you’re about to kick down.

Speaking of which, kicking down doors instantly enables a brief slow-mo sequence that allows you to survey the room and get a few shots in before your attackers advance on you. An onscreen prompt notifies you that a room is clear of all enemies, which then allows you to focus on preset objectives such as collecting evidence, grabbing piles of dirty cash, or destroying terminals. These tasks are fine, but it’s the part where you get to shoot a bunch of dudes that’s the most fun.

You’ll come across briefcases with ammo and health, which you’re going to really want to seek out as damage carries over between stages. On top of that, Case mode features perma-death, so once you get smoked by a thug, you’ll have to start a new case. I enjoyed the roguelike twist here because it’s not something you see often in first-person shooters, but having to repeat the monotonous tutorial every time you start a new case quickly gets old.

Even though stages are procedurally generated, I never ran into an instance where a level felt either barren or overly crowded. RICO does a good job of spacing out enemies and filling a room with enough bad guys to provide a proper challenge while still being manageable. That’s not to say the game is easy — even on the lowest difficulty setting, RICO will give you a run for your money. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed, you can always create or join an online game, or you can have a buddy come over and join in on some local co-op.

Odd Jobs

Case mode is great to jump into if you’re looking to go the distance and want something remotely resembling a story-based campaign. If you just want to get in and do a few rounds of no-pressure shooting, Quick mode has you covered. There are three sub-modes in Quick mode. Operation is, like Case mode, objective-based. Training has you shooting human-shaped targets and is quite boring. Lockdown puts you against waves of enemies in horde-style rounds until you bite the bullet.

If you’re looking to see how you stack up against other players, Daily mode allows you to participate in preset activities that combine different aspects from the available modes. You’ll be able to compete against other players’ scores on the leaderboards. This is a great addition for players who have a more competitive side.

If RICO only included Case mode or Quick mode’s Operation, it still would’ve been fine. The procedurally generated nature of the game makes these two game options highly replayable. They’re all I really needed to revisit the game as much as I did.

Good, Clean Fun… Disposing of Degenerate Trash

If you’re going to play RICO, you should know that it plays like a game from an older generation. Oddly enough, that somehow works in its favor. There’s this bizarre charm to the whole thing that makes me enjoy it because it reminds of something I would’ve had a lot of fun playing 10 years ago. That’s not to say I want every FPS to feel a bit outdated from this point on, but there’s something — kind of neat? — about the janky movement and floaty controls.

The cel-shaded visuals in RICO are right in line with that older style of the game. Typically, cel-shaded graphics can look really cleaned up if hardware is used to its full potential. Not in RICO. These cel-shaded visuals are rough, but damn do they look cool.

The voice acting is equally reminiscent of the old days. Enemies make generic grunts as they run at you with blunt weapons or shoot at you from across a room. They then let out a nondescript “urgh!” or “ah!” after you shoot them down. It’s all definitely within the “so bad it’s good” realm.

I really enjoyed playing RICO. It’s not phenomenal. It’s not even great. But it’s pretty good, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. It reminds me of the old days, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Score: 7 out of 10

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