Game Title: RICO
Company: Rising Star Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital
Battery Life: 2 – 4 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 2.9 GB

It’s funny that I say that shooting games don’t come out often on the Switch maybe a month ago and now I’m sitting here with two more shooting games on my Switch that are both releasing within a week of one another. If only I could use that logic to keep telling myself that Dissidia 012, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix, and Valkyrie Profile 2 aren’t on the Switch yet and have them magically appear on the eShop.

But back on topic, shooting games are coming out more often on the Switch in smaller forms. Today’s game is a co-op “Buddy Cop” shooter that is multiplatform across pretty much every console.

So, here is my review of the first-person shooting game, RICO!

Story

rico 2 - story

The game takes place in San Amaro, currently overrun by criminal gangs and drug dealers. With the gangs out of control, a rag-tag team of cops that get results by any means necessary to form a special task force to take care of the gangs and take out their bosses to bring back order to San Amaro.

Sounds good, but that’s where the story ends. You get one pretty interesting opening cutscene before the title menu, and no story afterwards. This is a game built around gameplay with no story campaign and no story of any kind outside of that introduction cutscene to try to get you interested in the characters that never talk or interact in the game.

I think this is a bummer as the premise sounds really interesting and to see it being shown just as a way to reel people into the gameplay is rather disappointing.

Gameplay

rico 3 - gameplay

RICO is a random-generated first-person shooting game with a heavy emphasis on co-op play. Across its different game modes, you’ll be constantly running through levels and doing cop bust things like kicking down doors, shooting bad guys, and grabbing evidence against the gangs.

First thing to know here is that this is a Randomly-Generated FPS game. That means every game you play will have rooms, enemies, and items generated at random, ensuring that you will never play the same map with the same layout of rooms through any 2 play sessions.

Also, this game is a Co-Op game. It can be played Solo but you can do any game mode with Split-Screen Multiplayer or Online Multiplayer. However, Split-Screen is only available in Docked Mode. You cannot do local split-screen on the go.

rico 4 - game modes

In terms of Game Modes, you have Quick, Case, and Daily. Quick lets you do single operations as well as diving into Training Mode and Lockdown, which acts as a “Defeat Wave after Wave of enemies” sort of thing. Daily also lets you do single matches, though handpicked for each day.

Case is where the meat of the game is. When you work on a case, the game randomly generates a new Criminal Gang you take down across a large network of missions that branch into one another. Each mission has different maps, enemies, and difficulty than the others, and you work your way to the final mission with the Gang Boss.

You can do this in a variety of ways and the randomness of it will determine how long or short the case could take you. Short paths in one case might only be 5 or 6 missions long, whereas the next might be 10 missions long. You also don’t have to only go on one path. You can go back and do other previous missions you have branches to instead of just heading straight for the boss.

rico 5 - net

This is there because there is a progression system. Every time you beat a mission, you gain “Merits” that let you buy unlocked weapons, upgrades, and items like health refills and revivals. As such, every case has you starting with just a base pistol and beating early missions in each case is the only way for other weapons to become available to you.

When you actually go into a mission, you are in a map with several locked up rooms. Your mission is to clear rooms and find all of the evidence before you leave. You clear each room by kicking its door down and killing all enemies within. Most of the time, you get to kick the door down before they know you’re outside, giving you several seconds of “Slowed Time” to get a lot of shots in on the enemy before the real-time shootout starts. This can be an easy way to clear a room, especially if you’re playing solo.

The game’s progression also has different tasks for you to do. Some rooms have bombs to defuse, evidence to interact with and collect, or equipment you have to destroy. Most of these side objectives will also spawn more enemies that will come from the level’s entrance for you to fight, especially towards the end of a level when you gather all required evidence for an operation’s completion.

rico 7 - shooting

The actual shooting involved is pretty standard. Like Modern Combat, you can’t jump, but you can crouch, switch weapons, throw grenades, and revive yourself or allies with Revival Items when/if your health reaches zero. It’s worth noting that there’s a lot of recoil built-in here, so it is a bit more on the realistic side to its gun physics.

Once you finish each operation, you get your Merits for equipment, but also XP for your character that will carry beyond just the case you’re on. When you level up, you gain special perks you can equip, like becoming immune to stun grenades or increasing accuracy when firing from the hip instead of down the sights. This gives the game a bit of progression, especially considering every time you fail a case or complete one and start another, you start back at ground zero with nothing but a basic pistol.

The way this comes together makes it a lot of fun to play, but it also feels like there’s not a lot here. Each case is different from others by name only and there are only a few different maps you can go through. THis makes the game feel repetitive and “samey” very quickly. You’re doing the same thing again, but with things placed a little differently. It’s fun to play, but it feels like there should be something more to it.

In term of content and length, this is really hard to gauge. Each operation takes a good 10 minutes or so to clear, so the shorter “Straight to the Boss” cases would probably take you about an hour to accomplish, or a few hours if you go through all the side missions. i will admit that the game is a ton of fun to play and the short operations and ability to continue cases across multiple play sessions definitely makes it fun to play on the go.

However, with no story campaign and nothing to do but cases over and over and over again with no story or difference outside of enemy placement, it’s certainly not worth its $20 price tag. There’s just nothing for you to do outside of doing cases and getting new levels for new passive skills. And then playing more cases and repeating the process.

Controls

Controlling the game is quite nice, especially considering the fact that there are nicely-tuned motion aiming built into the game.

You move around with the Left Analog Stick and move the camera with the Right Analog Stick. Also, you can hold down the Left Analog to sprint. The L trigger lets you set a waypoint while the ZL and ZR triggers are used for aiming down the sights and firing your weapon.

You can crouch with the A button and interact with objects with the B button. Y lets you reload your weapon and X changes your equipped weapon.

Presentation

Rico 6 - presy

Graphically, the game doesn’t look terrible, but not great either. Many of the guns have a good amount of detail and some environments do as well, but just as many that do, don’t. Some environments have a lot of texture detail while others look rather bland and basic.

Performance isn’t bad. The frames do dip from time to time, but the biggest part of this is how lengthy the load times can be. We aren’t talking minutes of loading, but it still takes a good while to get everything loaded for each operation.

Battery Life

With Battery Life, we get more than our last game, and plenty to get some full cases done on a full charge. Here is Rico’s Battery Range:

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 34 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 16 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 19 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 56 minutes

So, a pretty decent amount, especially considering how short operations can be.

In conclusion, RICO offers the Switch audience solid shooting gameplay with good options for split-screen and online co-op play. Unfortunately, it lacks more than it gains, with an interesting story setup with no story campaign after, far too few variations of environments, and some technical issues in performance. Its gameplay is fun, but there’s just not enough here to warrant the price.

Final Score: 6/10