If you’ve ever watched the show cops and wanted to experience what it would feel like writing tickets for people breaking the law? Well, here is your chance with developer 11 bit studios title Beat Cop. Being a normal cop in the 80’s is what this game is generally about and while that may seem boring, there is also plenty of retro goodness to enjoy.
Beat Cop starts out strong with an action-filled cinematic showing our detective, Jack Kelly, arriving at a certain Senator’s house. However, things don’t go as planned and circumstances leave Jack framed for murder and robbery of the Senator’s prized possessions. As a result Jack is demoted to becoming a beat cop where he must spend the next three weeks trying to clear his name before he gets cleared off the face of the earth.
The premise of Beat Cop really intrigued me because it reminded me of the classic 80’s cop shows that I used to watch back in the day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t develop at a satisfying pace as much of the information you get comes in very bite-sized pieces throughout your three weeks on the street. Due to never feeling overly busy from my daily duties, much of the story cutscenes just left me thinking “that’s it? That’s all you can tell me now?”. Thankfully though, I did enjoy that Beat Cop paid tribute to these classics in both its story and characters.
During your time playing, you’ll be interacting with your fellow cops in the precinct, as well as the shopkeepers on your patrol street. Beat Cop is set in the 80’s time period, so many do say some things that are blatantly offensive by today’s standards. This is all done though, to contextually portray the culture at the time effectively and true to the era. I wish the characters you interact with daily had more depth, but they did a decent job in giving them some varied personality.
From a gameplay perspective, Beat Cop is part cop-simulator and part management sim. Every day before you patrol you get orders from the captain on the types of tickets he’s expecting from you, as well as other things you should be looking out for like suspicious cars roaming around the street. When you’re on patrol you’ll do your best to meet your daily ticket quota by checking cars for their tires, lights, and parking conditions. In the meantime, the many shopkeepers will also come to you with requests that often reward you with some money.
This is crucial because like many other management games, Beat Cop will try to collect money from you at a certain point by saying you have to pay for your alimony checks. It can be very difficult to acquire this money before the deadline if you’re relying solely on your pay as a cop. As a result, you start looking to help these shopkeepers for some of that side income. This can be done in a variety of ways and many of them involve taking a particular object somewhere or meeting someone at a specific time of day. You are given a decent amount of these requests and at least one rather unique one every day.
Besides the standard shopkeepers, it’s important to give special mention to the Italians and the Crew, and the dynamic between them. These two main factions of the patrol street will five you missions every day and completing them not only accrues you more money, but it also strengthens your relationship with the respective groups. Become best friends with one side and you can complete Beat Cop before the 21days are over without uncovering whoever framed you, but become enemies with any one faction and it’s game over.
In theory, Beat Cop does well as a simulator and has a lot going for it management wise. On the one hand you have to meet your ticket quota to ensure that you keep your job, but you often know that you have to take a sleazy job on the side to get the money you need for your alimony checks. Another really nice addition is the fact that citizens often try to bribe you if they see you writing a ticket for their car. This again lets you choose between meeting your ticket quota or gaining a few extra bucks on the side. You also have to balance the relationships between the police, the Crew, and the Italians in a way that doesn’t upset one party too much and all this is done while helping the there shopkeepers and finding out what really happened that night in the Senator’s office.
If you like pixel art and don’t mind looking at the same street over and over again than Beat Cop has a nice graphical style that does an adequate job of portraying the 80’s well. Visually, I was pleased with how the developers handled the animations with the pixel art style and there is a decent amount of detail that separates Beat Cop from other titles that simply choose this aesthetic because of a lack of funds. The character designs are splendid for what they are because they’re able to convey a lot of visual information about a character with so few pixels.
Alongside the visuals is a repetitive audio presentation that doesn’t really feature any background music. The only music comes from passing by certain NPC’s like an 80’s rocker or some Crew blasting their hip-hop jams. Most of your time is just spent listening to cars passing by and maybe from some random events while playing.
Overall, Beat Cop has an interesting premise that is surprisingly enjoyable for just checking someone’s tires or lights and writing a ticket most of the time. There is a strange addiction for me to keep playing and this addictive quality is sadly missed in many games.