Slow motion in video games is no longer the raging force it used to be.
This saddens advocates of the mechanic like myself. It seems like only yesterday that games like F.E.A.R., Max Payne, TimeShift, and Stranglehold had… well, a stranglehold on the market, but alas, it’s another idea that got overplayed and waned away over time. Someone forgot to tell the entire world though, which is probably why RICO got made.
This is a rogue-lite FPS and the sophomore title from UK studio Ground Shatter. These Bristol boys came to fruition in 2018 with the release of SkyScrappers, a game that defied audiences everywhere by being blisteringly average. With RICO however, they’ve got Rising Star handling publishing, which is admittedly a left-field choice by them. When it’s not a CAVE sh’m’up, it’s usually something inherently wacky, like Lumo or Conga Master, but I digress.
RICO showcases a story of a city in ruin from crime. Drugs and gangs dominate the nameless metropolitan area. Kingpins rule the joint with the iron fist that the police fail to have, which is why a higher government body have arrived in order to take down the criminal organizations from the bottom up. Simple gang members won’t cut it, as you’ll also have to face off against mafioso types, psychopathic bouncers, and even army-level soldiers on your way to dismantling the organization, and it all needs to be done in 24 in-game hours.
From the get-go, you have a few options to choose from; A Quick Operation, A “Case” (the campaign of the game), and Lockdown, which is a wave defense mode within one of two set maps. Your safest bet at getting used to the intensities of RICO’s design will be with the Quick Operations, where the game will procedurally generate a random building complex, which you can edit the size of and the density of enemies inside. Your main objective will always be to gather evidence located in steel briefcases around the buildings, but there’s also various secondary objectives relating to speed, precision, brute force, and elegance. It’s to push you into using your Hard Boiled abilities to the limit, and once you get going, you really get going.
As soon as you burst through your first door, you have the perfect representation of what to expect from RICO. The bad guy’s vulgarities are pitch-shifted lower, the door breaks into tens of small pieces from a swift kick, the ripples of the air emanating from the discharged bullet. It’s all dirty, gritty, violent beauty in slow-motion, using an overplayed mechanic to its strength and somehow not making it feel like a chore.
There’s a rudimentary nature to how the slow-motion triggers. It’ll always happen when you breach a new room in single player (and when you’re in Lockdown, it triggers with certain headshots), but since you’re not in complete control of it triggering, you pay attention to other details. Details like the comic book-style aesthetic, which is reminiscent of titles like XIII or Borderlands without feeling like it’s directly ripping them off, or the controls, which are wonkier than Willy.
The shooting and aiming of …