Laying down the law one ticket at a time

WARNING: This game is rated M for Mature, and includes harsh language, sexual content and explicit information related to drugs and crime.

If you’re looking for a trip down memory lane, deep into the childhood dreams you had about being a police detective, with shows like Miami Vice and Law & Order (for you 90’s kids) providing you with a taste of good ol’ metropolitan crime, then you’ll want a copy of Beat Cop. This tribute to 80’s cop shows is your one-way ticket to nostalgia-land, and after you’ve taken a verbal beating from your police chief and eaten your first donut, you won’t want to put this game down.

N.Y. State of Mind

Developed by Pixel Crow, a small indie game studio in Warsaw Poland, this pixelated beauty takes place in Brooklyn, New York. So what is a “beat cop”? A beat, in police terminology, is the territory and time a cop patrols, usually on foot. While ‘on the beat’, players view the city through the eyes of Jack Kelly, a seasoned police detective who is in the midst of a sticky murder charge and framed for the Senator’s missing diamonds. While attempting to sway his verdict, he manages to keep his police job and is reassigned to a tough neighborhood with its own unique issues, including an Italian mafia and African-American gang. Your job is simple: stop crime, determine where your loyalty is and don’t get shot. Oh, and don’t forget about parking tickets, pedestrians, and occasional public intoxication.

beat cop

The Message  

This game is pretty fun and entertaining, with references to famous 80’s movies, such as Coming to America, featuring Eddie Murphy and numerous crime show jokes. I found myself losing track of time and laughing until my stomach hurt. That being said, Beat Cop explores some pretty controversial and unsettling themes such as drug addiction, sexism and racial inequality, and faults in America’s justice system. This game can cause its players to feel uncomfortable, and may include some triggering content. There are numerous references to narcotics, as well as a few racial slurs. A reference to the Black Lives Matter is also in here during a mission where a Russian police officer comes to visit New York. These situations forced me to really think about my actions in the game, and reflect on the stereotypes of today’s society. While playing Beat Cop, I urge players to understand the risks, and attempt to keep an open mind while enjoying what this game has to offer. This game is aimed at being just that; a game. But, along with any art form, freedom of expression is a thing of value and I urge all you gamers out there to give the developers a high five for their ability to intertwine such strong topics into such a fun video game.

The World is Yours

Originally released for PC back in 2017, Beat Cop is now available across the board for consoles and is framed into day missions, where players have from 9-5 to economise their actions and choices. Often, fellow officers will echo that you don’t have to do everything regarding tasks, and this couldn’t be truer. The thing is, it’s nearly impossible to juggle all of your police responsibilities with all your neighborhood tasks. However, this is the point and players have to pick and choose while weighing the consequences. I will admit, this game is a bit challenging at first, but as you play the days become easier and you really get to know your neighborhood. What I found lacking was how easy it is to fail in this game. Each in-game hour is roughly a minute, making quick decisions, perhaps deciding a characters fate, daunting and rushed. Being a beat cop can be pretty stressful, and juggling the interests of a mafia, gang and the police force is tricky. On one patrol, I was bribed by the gang to not bust any robberies for a cut of the profit. I was able to get some brownie points with the gang, who “spread the word” and raised my reputation in the neighborhood, but at the end of the day my police pay was docked due to lack of arrests. I also damaged some relationships with a few shopkeepers who had been robbed. All in all, you make the calls in this game and have to weigh the consequences.

beat cop

Another missed opportunity would be that there isn’t a lot of character development. Players don’t really find out about Officer Kelly’s past, or that of other NPC’s. Eventually, information regarding the intentions of characters is revealed, but other than that there really isn’t a lot of story. I found that Beat Cop was more about the experience of being in the New York police during a time of high crime, and is definitely more of a tribute to the stories that came before it. I would have liked a bit more storyline, maybe an opportunity to go on patrol with another officer from your squad, or even some cutscenes about mafia/gang members and how they were just trying to make ends meet.

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An indie game enthusiast, Zoe can be found creating her own video games, writing or perhaps daydreaming about her favorite food; pasta. Follow her on Twitter @zoe_doman.

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