Walking a Retro, Crooked Beat with Beat Cop

Beat Cop
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Beat Cop is a simulation game with 80s police themes and dark humor. As a management game, Beat Cop places you on a strict time table for accomplishing various duties: Players will ticket and arrest their way through the story of a disgraced detective that was framed for a crime he didn’t commit (allegedly). Disgraced and thrust to the bottom of the totem pole, this detective becomes a beat cop on a street that has warring gangs, prostitutes, and dregs of society… but all you can do is write tickets and call in murder scenes. So is Beat Cop worth extorting your wallet, or is it a real dead beat (awful pun, sorry)? Let’s find out.

Beat Cop is a game that progresses simply enough. You’re given a task each day and have a set time limit by which to accomplish that task- usually write a certain number of tickets by the end of your work shift at 6PM each day. If you write double the quota of tickets you’re supposed to you will receive bonus pay, but there are a variety of events that occur each day that will eat up significant portions of your time. You may be called upon to stop a thief, cordon off a murder scene, help resolve conflicts between citizens, and more. Most events give you an opportunity to play a good or bad cop, such as accepting bribe money in exchange for not issuing a ticket.

You basically have to make as much money as you can each day, because your ex-wife is attempting to drain your wallet of everything she apparently can. So, whether you choose to extort, accept bribes, or play a straight-laced officer is largely to meet monetary quotas set up in specific intervals. To add to this, while progressing you will still be interacting with people and clues to solve problems and find out who framed you for murder, and who is the cop killer on your beat.

All the while, there’s numerical systems attached to the various groups of people in the game. Forgiving a ticket will curry favor with the people, while arresting a thieving gang member will cause the gang to push back on you. Also, it bears mention, if playing a good cop, you *will* eventually be asked to go into an alley by some kid where you will be killed. It just will happen, and you have no option to say no to the obvious trap. A very poor choice, in my opinion, as the only way to get around this while playing as a good cop is to pay the priest to improve your reputation with the gang (seems weird you can’t just outsmart the gang members and *not* walk into the alley, but to each his own).

The more the citizens love you, the more they may come to you for help and the more benefits you may be able to get from them in the long run- versus extorting them for a variety of reasons for immediate payout.

The system, surprisingly, works. You can play a straight-edged, upstanding police officer who pays his alimony by doubling his daily quotas for bonuses, while others may extort and use everyone around them and become the most corrupt individual to hold a digital badge. The relationship system gives a group of micro stories to the people you protect and the events that crop up all the time, even if the game’s main plot is drip-fed to the player.

As for the main plot goes, Beat Cop does have a fairly interesting story, but it takes an extremely long time to see it develop. You’re attempting to figure out who framed you for a murder and absconded with diamonds, trying to determine who murdered Fat Mike, the guy who spent time showing you the beat on your first day as a patrol officer, trying to pay your alimony on time, etc… The tasks the player continually performs are somewhat repetitive, but the overall presentation of the game gives it a very addictive urgency. Overall, it works, but because the story is largely based as a detective-style mystery coated with patrolman tasks, it’s difficult to explain many elements of it without giving anything away.

Beat Cop, especially at the outset of the game, wraps itself in absurd black humor- you will see multiple instances of, “Do you want me to lock you up with Mandingo?” throughout the game, for example. This humor is the bow on top of a plot that tries to force you to enjoy banality- it’s not exciting to play as a guy who just goes around ticketing vehicles for poor parking or tires, but somehow, in Beat Cop, it works. Your character was ejected from what pop culture perceives to be the really interesting part of police work, going from detective to patrolman. The game doesn’t let you forget this, as most of your superiors will denigrate you each chance that’s available. In any event, if black humor bothers you, or you’d be playing this around children, you may want to stay away from Beat Cop.

As for graphics, the game looks fine, visually. It’s a pixel-based game that’s lacking in detail, but you can generally tell what everything is so it’s not exactly an issue. The music is inspired wholesale by the 80’s, and it was a phenomenal choice. The title screen song is especially good. Controls are pretty decent, and you’ll spend a lot of time clicking as you progress through Beat Cop- very similar to playing a hack n’ slash like Diablo II.

Overall, Beat Cop is a very amusing time waster. It has a decent story and is incredibly addicting, especially for its price. The humor is plentiful and typically off-color, so be careful if you’re sensitive to certain subjects such as male genitalia. Male genitalia gets referenced a lot, especially toward the women characters. So, if you’re a fan of addicting gameplay and humor (and genitalia), Beat Cop may definitely be a game for you.

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