Against all Odds
Rebel Cops is a spinoff of another Weappy Studio game titled This is the Police. But while that game focuses more on story elements and management, Rebel Cops has the player take a more direct approach in the war on crime.
The game has you take control of a ragtag team of cops fighting to take back their town from a criminal organization. They operate just outside the law willing to do whatever it takes to bring the bad guys to justice. Rebel Cops also has its fair share of humor, a character named Conrad “Old” Spice getting more than a few chuckles out of me. They do a good job at walking the fine line between cheesy and dramatic.
But where Rebel Cops excels most of all is in its gameplay.
As said before, Rebel Cops is a lot more direct with its gameplay than This is the Police. Most of your time will be spent on missions where you’ll engage in direct combat with suspects. The goal of the game is to complete each mission with as little bloodshed as possible. Taking a stealthier approach by knocking out and arresting enemies will earn you a good reputation with the townsfolk. Best they see you as better than the criminals and not a pack of deranged killers.
With each mission comes side objectives, limitations, timed goals and much more. Balancing all this out results in a difficult but rewarding experience which will leave you replaying missions for that perfect run.
In a lot of ways, I found the game to be like the Xcom series, both being turn-based tactics games. Also, both games have you run missions and return to a hub where you reap rewards based on your mission performance. However, where Rebel Cops falls behind is found in the characters you control. A high degree of customization in Xcom allows you to grow attached to your soldiers, but in Rebel Cops, every officer is too similar. Some degree of customization would have been a nice addition to the game.
Hell of a Ride
Minor grievances aside, Rebel Cops is an exciting introduction into Weappy Studio’s brand of games. The noir-like music focuses your mind and the graphics are smooth and enjoyable to look at. The difficult but fair combat reminds me why I fell in love with strategy games. Because when the odds are stacked against you yet your plan works, there’s few better feelings in the world.
Tough fights, good humor and great presentation makes Rebel Cops the perfect game to fill that turn-based strategy shaped hole in your heart.
Furthermore, the “one shot, one kill” tagline that the game uses in its marketing is also somewhat misleading. Your bullets have to hit the target first, and until you’ve built up your skills at firearms, that’s unlikely to happen at anything other than extremely short range.
Every shot is a called shot, meaning that you can choose to hit a specific location every time you fire. Aiming for the head grants a one-shot kill; center mass drops an enemy on the ground where they bleed out for three turns; winging someone in the arm or leg puts them down, bleeding out for five turns. Body armor, including helmets, further complicates things by absorbing rounds.
The bottom line is that I needed anywhere from one to five rounds to get the job done. The same can’t be said of the game’s enemies, however, which are extremely lethal in the early game.
Overall, I spent a lot more time sneaking around and positioning my forces than I did doing anything meaningful. Exploration was fun, especially on the massive free-exploration maps. But not when I was limited to three saves per map, and had to contend with opaque stealth mechanics along the way. The perks system also left a lot to be desired, with just a handful of options to choose from, limiting my tactical options.
Is Rebel Cops a bad game? Not really, but I wasn’t exactly prepared for the game it ended up being. It’s a strange, morally ambiguous experience about trying to fight for peace in an environment in which I have few of the tools necessary to do so without breaking the law myself. It’s right there in the name, but it certainly wasn’t in the trailers.