Beat Cop puts you in the shoes of former New York Detective Jack Kelly, demoted from his role after being involved in a scandal with a couple of burglars, a Senator, diamonds and a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. While Internal Affairs investigates what occurred, you’ll be walking the mean streets of 1980s New York.
Yes, there are a ton of 80s references, from Ghostbusters to Top Gun. There are also more contemporary references, including Parks and Recreation and Breaking Bad. If you ever watched a movie like Lethal Weapon you’ll enjoy this. If you ever watched any cop show, whether it’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine or something far grittier there’s something here for you. It’s an adult game with an adult subject matter, something which adds an excellent element to the experience.
So what do you do? Quite a lot. You’ll still be investigating crimes, such as murders or drug busts. You’ll be helping out the locals with some odd jobs, whether that’s Nazi-hunting or something more low key like creating a Porn film. The majority of your time will be spent on the daily tasks which primarily focuses on ticketing. Yes, parking tickets come first. You’ll check meters, check lights, check tires and ensure that cars all meet road standards. If not, tickets. Get caught ticketing someone’s car? Prepare to be offered a bribe. Every day you’ll be given a series of tasks to focus on. This might be to ticket five cars for faulty lights while you look for a particular car based on a license plate. There could be a suspicious person nearby you need to track or tail. There is enough variety to keep you engaged throughout the ten-hour campaign.
Bribes introduce us to the key component of the gameplay; the faction system. You have the Police, the Mafia, the Crew, and the People. Each of these groups can be offended, sedated or directly pleased by your actions. If you arrest a Mafia member while he’s extorting a local business, they’ll like you less but the People and the Police will see a reputation boost. Bust a local drug dealer? Expect to see your reputation with the Crew take a hit. Wherever your reputation is, it will open up new lines of dialogue and mission options. This reputation will control the narrative in numerous ways, ultimately deciding what ending you receive. There are multiple obtainable endings and the story is non-linear, it’s up to you to take agency over what happens and either solve your case or find an alternative solution.
This is a game that does not shy away from its setting or inspirations in any way. It is set in the 80s. It is a parody. It is unapologetic of this. There are racial slurs, there is rampant misogyny, there are offensive stereotypes and there is a lot of things that are considered poor taste (for good reason) in 2019. Beat Cop knows this and personally, I think they are presented in a way that is both relevant to the subject matter and suitable for the setting. Nothing happens that seems genuinely out of place and the bigger scandals and events are taken seriously. The only people with a genuine complaint about this game will be PETA due to one scene with a dog but we all know, PETA deserves nothing.
In terms of looks, the game is great. The pixelated graphics work well and add a nice, nostalgic 80s tone to the game that really suits it. Sounds and music are good too, never a distraction and things like sirens or audio cues are all excellent. The characters that you meet are interesting and the dialogue helps to bring them to life. No one exists just for the sake of it and you’ll really build connections as you play. The lady who runs the diner, Norma, was a personal favorite of mine. I also had a soft spot for Adamski, the Jewish deli owner.
Overall, Beat Cop is a fun game. If you’ve ever been interested in police media then this is something you’ll really enjoy. Some of the dialogue might upset some people, but as long as you’re mature and take it in the context it’s intended, then you’ll be fine. The gameplay is shaken up enough times by random events and the escalating story that, rather than become tedious, occasionally it’s nice to just ticket the odd car. And there’s also a platinum trophy on PS4 for all you hunters!