Brooklyn, New York. The 1986. Cocaine fell like snow, outfits were offensively vibrant, and the city’s underbelly would inspire drama, action, and romanticism of both police and criminals for years to come. It’s only fitting that after 3 decades, we’d finally get the game we deserve. A dash of Lethal Weapon, a pinch of TJ Hooker, and a sprinkle of comedy reflective of an era and what do we get? This is our Beat Cop review.
Demoted For Diamonds
Beat Cop opens with grizzled detective veteran Jack Kelly responding to a reported break in at the home of a state senator. Sweeping the premisis, Kelly ends up with blood on his hands after killing one of the burglars, while the other escaped with diamonds from the senator’s safe. With the burglar being percieved not to be a threat to investigators, and no sign of another infiltrator, Internal Affairs looks at Jack with corruption charges and theft of the missing diamonds. Without the proof needed to lock him up immediately, things take a turn for Jack. He’s busted all the way back down the ladder to a boy-in-blue walking a beat in the seediest part of town.
Jack’s problems don’t stop there though, as his first day back on a beat and his partner is murdered in a drive by shooting. His journey to clear himself of the theft charges, and to avenge his fallen partner, are just beginning. All in all, it’s as 1980’s an intro as possible for this cop comedy-drama point and click ride.
As 80’s As It Gets
Everything about Beat Cop, from the sense of humor to the dramatic moments is everyhting you’d expect (and want) from a game inspired by and set in 1986. Even the graphics itself is a reflection of the pixel-art goodness of decades past.
Each day in-game begins with your briefing, your assignments, and a declaration of your required ticket quota expected of you at the end of the shift. Jack isn’t particularly liked by his new colleagues, with the captain and his fellow officers untrusting of him. Over time they open up a bit more to Jack, but the more they do you’ll see they aren’t as by-the-book as their holier than though attitudes towards you would imply. The moral of the story is everyone is out for themselves; it’s up to you if you’ll be an honorable public servant, or another piece in the puzzle of corruption.
When I say it’s as 80’s as it gets, I mean that 110%. That applies even to the language found in game. Capturing the grit, drama, and comedy of an era means bringing some things along for the ride that may rub people the wrong way in today’s era. There are moments of misogyny, there are moments of racial tension, there are comments made by the characters that may put off the easily offended all together. You’ve been fairly warned, if you are easily offended and don’t adhere to the addage of “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” then this game isn’t for you. Though I’m not offended by these moments, I think it’s important to mention for the consumer sake that yes, they are there and rather prominent at times.
Fun In Routines
The gameplay itself is simplistic, yet entertaining. On a day by day basis, most of your beat involves ticketing cars for various reasons from parking violations to worn out tires. You’ll also bust the occassional drug dealer and shop lifter, learn the what’s-what of the beat by interacting with different store owners and residents of the block. You’ll also walk that narrow line between duty and corruption, constantly tempted with bribes to look the other way, or even aid the criminal element of the area. It may sound tedious, but actually it’s just a simplistic, workable system that makes a very enjoyable time sink.
As the days go on, you gain other main objectives to fulfill on top of your daily duties (such as basically babysitting a drunk, delivering food to an elderly woman, etc) and in these moments you get a bit more insight into not just Jack Kelly as a person, but the way you want Jack Kelly to be. I always played Jack on the straight and narrow, the only time I ever took a bribe was do to a misclick on my part.
As another beat draws to a close, I take a break to wrap up this review. I’m hooked on this simple, but loveable title. While I’m still itching for a realistic police title, I’m pleased with how more games about law enforcement fiction are appearing in the last year or so, and Beat Cop sits at the top of the pile in terms of enjoyment.