Within the first 90 seconds, RICO gave me flashbacks to every great video game shootout I’ve ever taken part in.
Named after the American Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, RICO’s name is the most realistic thing about a game that, at its heart, is just an arcade game. Your chosen super-cop — with this early preview build having a selection of three — and potentially a co-op partner move through a procedurally generated collection of rooms, kicking in doors and raking out criminals.
It may not be the standard way to execute a high risk warrant, but it’s a blast to play, echoing Rainbow Six Vegas’ high energy breaches or a memorable slow-motion sequence in Modern Warfare 2’s Gulag level. The difference here is that instead of these moments being the pay-off to a set piece, you’ll rarely go 30 seconds without emptying a magazine or kicking in another door. Indeed, slow down too much and enemy reinforcements will appear, clad in tactical gear and clutching military grade firepower to give you a kick to the behind.
Speaking to James Parker, the founder of developers Ground Shatter Games and the games director, he says that he wants people to be able to pick up the game or join in with a friend and immediately start enjoying themselves. Indeed, when I first sat down to play the game, he told me the button to kick doors down and left me to it.
Parker describes his the Rainbow Six series among his influences, but also the feel of classic arcade light-gun shooters Virtua Cop and Time Crisis.
"In terms of other inspiration our mood board consists solely of a quote from Rock Paper Shotgun about F.E.A.R’s weapon feel," says Parker "and a load of screengrabs from Bad Boys II (the Citizen Kane of films.)"
Bad Boys II, and Michael Bay’s other bombastic entries to the history of cinema, are clear references and Ground Shatter’s commitment to environment destruction, flailing bodies and excessive firefights should serve it well.
That RICO also offers procedurally generated environments — a different area to blast your way through every time — and cooperative play — to drag a friend along either online or locally — give it replayability.
In a game where realistic shooting games are often covered in a veneer of jingoistic gung-ho, RICO can scratch a unique itch. It’s got a small footprint on your time, an independent title that is seeking to provide all of the thrills of a Triple-A shooter without a significant time-investment, which could see it filling a fairly unique niche.