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Beat Cop review for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC


Platform: Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Developer: Pixel Crow
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

For better and for worse, it’s pretty clear that Beat Cop occupies roughly the same spot that This is the Police did a couple of years ago.

In some respects, this is a good thing. Much like This is the Police, Beat Cop isn’t a dry simulation of day-to-day policing, a la 911 Operator. At the same time, however, it offers enough of that day-to-day policing that it doesn’t push the management sim aspect to the far background in favour of overblown melodrama, which was the problem with This is the Police 2. It aims to strike a balance between the two, and, to a decent extent, it succeeds — perhaps not as much as This is the Police did, but it’s a success nonetheless.

Strangely, however, it also falls victim to some of the pitfalls that diminished This is the Police. Much like that game took some needless, bizarre steps into political minefields, so, too, does Beat Cop. Even if it tries to handwave these problems away in an opening text box by describing the game as an ode to ‘80s cop shows, there are definitely points where this game is a little too gleeful in its racism and misogyny. I’m not going to say that cop shows of the era were completely devoid of prejudice and stereotypes, but I’m fairly certain they never revelled in it the way Beat Cop does.

That said, when this game steps away from the bigotry, it’s really not too bad. Day after day, you walk a city block, issuing tickets, running down robbers, and generally becoming a part of that little neighbourhood’s rhythms. You’re given daily tasks, like issuing a certain number of tickets, and throughout each day you respond to sudden police bulletins and requests from citizens.

Compounding that, you also have to make choices about how you want to live your life as a cop. Do you keep to the straight and narrow, turning in weapons when you find them and refusing bribes? Or do you embrace the crookedness, getting involved in drug deals, prostition, and gambling? Given the ample opportunities for sleaze, it’s clear what side the game is hoping you’ll take, but you can just as easily focus on the game as a management sim, and view all the side distractions as window-dressing.

Admittedly, there are moments when that window-dressing feels more than a little uncomfortable. And if you were to let that stop you from playing Beat Cop, I wouldn’t criticize you. But at the same time, if you’re just after a police management sim, there’s no denying that it’s a whole lot more interesting than, say, 911 Operator. Beat Cop is, as the kids say, problematic, and it’s up to you to decide just how many problems you can accept in a game.

11 bit studios provided us with a Beat Cop Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C+