I hope you like shootin' dudes.
I don’t know where you get your information, disembodied voice, but that’s correct. I’ve been spending the last week or so playing RICO, from Ground Shatter (hey check out Daan Koopman's preview for another perspective).
Yeah. The last time I heard the word “RICO” was Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The acronym stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. It essentially allows the leaders of criminal organizations to be tried for the crimes they ordered underlings to perform so as to not escape justice.
Oh, so this is less an action game and more a…courtroom drama game?
No. According to this game, RICO means kicking down doors and shooting dudes in randomly-generated buildings.
Oh, that sounds kind of fun.
And it is. But, you know, there’s a disclaimer attached to that.
You’d damn well better have a second player on hand, because playing by yourself is an exercise in futility. Seriously, the game is built for two-player co-op. Solo play is given middling consideration.
What do you mean by that?
Are you an adult with a full-time job and maybe a family and a house to run?
Are your friends in similar places in their lives?
When was the last time you sat down with a friend to play couch co-op on your Switch?
Like two months ago, we played Puyo Puyo Tetris for 20 minutes while our wives chatted in the kitchen.
So would you say that finding a reliable IRL co-op partner is a challenge?
Yes, it’s virtually out of the question.
Well thankfully, RICO gives you the ability to play online with friends or, as I recently learned, random strangers.
There’s a caveat to playing online with friends, though: it would appear the game is region-locked. If your friend lives in, say, the Netherlands, even though you can see each other on the Switch friends list, you will not see each other up in RICO.
But otherwise, how’s it perform online?
It’s great, actually. I should note here that finding a random player is a strange process. I could never actually find another open lobby. Rather, I had to start a lobby with “open visibility,” then I just started playing CASE missions by myself. Once my second CASE mission ended, I suddenly had a partner to play with. We played for a long time, and while it would’ve been nice to have some method of voice communication, RICO is simple enough that we were able to clear missions with little difficulty. The game never stuttered or dropped connection; it was a good time.
That sounds great. But what if that second player never joins?
Well, let me tell you how RICO plays first. You primarily do two things in this game: kick down doors and shoot dudes. You have three options upon booting the game up: “QUICK,” “CASE,” and “DAILY.” QUICK lets you take on a CASE-like mission (see below), visit the training facility, or try your hand at a “Lockdown,” which is RICO’s Hoard Mode. QUICK games do not appear to give you experience or points towards new equipment (more on this in a second), so there’s little incentive to do a quick play.
CASE is this game’s attempt at a campaign: you are presented with a branching path of criminals and your goal is to slaughter your way up the ladder until you reach the big boss. Dying on one of these missions ends the case and it’s back to square one. Your first mission is always the training facility, which gets kind of old. Each mission features a randomly-generated environment, room layout, list of goals, pickups, and enemy types. Completing as many objectives as you can before leaving gets you a proportionate amount of experience and points towards new equipment. RICO has a Kid Icarus-like difficulty curve: early in a CASE, you have access to essentially a handgun, so getting through even early missions by yourself is kind of a gamble, but as you level up and gain points, your character earns perks (which must be toggled) and in addition to new weapons, you can also buy weapon modifications like suppressors or laser sights.
That actually sounds kind of cool.
Well, it is and it isn’t. You can leave missions at any time, say when your health is at critical, and your rewards will be more meager if you haven’t accomplished everything, so progress can be slow. It doesn’t help that your health stays the same, so if your character is one gunshot away from dying, you have to spend points in between missions on a health pack. And of course, missions are both more difficult and take longer with one person than two. It all comes down to how much this game clicks with you. It got repetitious pretty quickly for me, but even then, it’s absolutely better with a partner.
Wait, what’s “DAILY?”
The DAILY option gives you the same mission types as in QUICK, but you’re also given a randomized loadout (you can choose your loadout in the other two game types). DAILY missions do actually give you points towards a separate pool to use on weapon skins. Not the most glamorous reward, but it’s something. I guess. I didn’t care.
Anything else of note?
I like the graphics, what with the cel shading and the environments look nice. Unfortunately, after several hours with the game, I think I’ve seen every asset RICO is capable of showing me.
So it’s a good game with another player, not so great solo.