STAFF REVIEW of Fashion Police Squad (Xbox One)

Wednesday, February 22, 2023.
by Adam Dileva

Fashion Police Squad Box art My personal sense of fashion is one that comfort trumps style. I’m a jeans and t-shirt type of guy; simple. Thankfully I’m not at the socks and sandals dad level yet. Would my clothing choices turn heads? Of course not, and I’m fine with that. It’s a good thing I don’t live in Trendpololis, the setting of Fashion Police Squad, as I would probably be a fashion faux pas. And that is the hook with Fashion Police Squad, you’re given the power to fix the public's fashion atrocities like baggy clothes, flame prints, socks and sandals, and other fashion disasters.

Think Doom Eternal, but instead of a dark, gritty and bloody shooting spree, you instead are going through a 3D world but every character is 2D and animated. It’s a classic FPS at its core and plays just like one, but definitely uses other shooter game mechanics, like using specific weapons for certain enemies. The only difference here is that you’re shooting at regular citizens that just happened to have terrible fashion sense and thus fixing and making them modern and fashionable. No blood and gore here, just bright colorful and eccentric style.

You are sergeant Des, a fashion police officer that has some extravagant style, sworn to fix the fashion faux pas that’s occurring throughout Trenopolis. Along with your handful of different fashion weapons and your Belt of Justice, you’ll be saving the city from terrible style. You’ll need to save people from baggy pants, socks and sandals, oversized suits and more. Your partner Haley talks to you over the radio, guiding you along your adventure and where to go next.

Rather than being just a simplistic shooter without any substance, there’s actually quite a bit of emphasis on its story. Is it a bit over the top and silly? Of course, but that’s where some of its charm comes from. There’s a mystery of why all these citizens are committing fashion crimes and it’s up to the Fashion Police Squad to solve who, what, where and why. It plays out much like a parody of itself, media and other games where humor plays a large part of its charm, and while it does get a little repetitive by the end, I still had a great time regardless.

Across a dozen different missions, you’ll be spreading glam and fashion across the city. Levels are quite linear, having you defeat everyone before being allowed to move on, and even having to get different colored scissors to progress past matching colored ribbons (think key cards from Doom). The world, characters and environment is bright, colorful and full of neon as you shoot, jump and swing your way from one end to the other.

As you shoot your way through the fashion crimes, you’ll also come across different pickups like watches, bow ties and mocktails, which will increase your health or armor, again, much like its Doom inspiration. Your Belt of Justice not only acts as way to stun your enemies, but it’s mainly used like a grappling hook, able to attach to certain flagpoles to launch and fling you forward. These platforming sections were fun but very seldom.

If you’re the type to search for secrets, there’s no shortage here, with each level having some sort of secret to be found, even the boss fights. Having found a few, they are tucked away pretty well and will take some time to find them all. At the end of each mission you’ll get a ranking and show what you found for pickups and secrets, but the highlight is the fashion show. All of the people you ‘fix’ by changing their attire, they will run down the catwalk much like a fashion show. It’s done in a really cool way and made it feel like what I did that previous level was for a reason.

Being a FPS, shooting will be what you primarily will be doing with your unique arsenal. You begin with a single weapon but will eventually get more as the story progresses. Where Fashion Police Squad’s hook comes in is with how you use your different weapons based on each type of enemy. Each fashion crime requires a different way to fix it, so you’ll be forced to figure out and remember which weapon is needed to defeat each type of person by altering what they are wearing. Above each person is a health bar that once depleted, turns them into a fashionable version that is deserving of the catwalk.

You’ll need to know what each type of weapon does and which enemies they are used for if you want to be successful, because using the wrong weapon simply won’t do anything to them. You begin with your Paint Shotgun, splattering color to those drab enemies in boring grey suits. You’ll then get a Sewing Machine Gun that shoots needles to tighten those loose fitting clothes, whereas its alternate fire lobs a fabric grenade. Sock Gnomes are funny little grenades that will seek out the sock and sandal wearing offenders. The Water Cannon comes later, allowing you to clear fire from the Guy Fieri knockoff that, well, spews fire. This also doubles as a way to make you run and slide faster if you spray slightly in front of you as you run. There’s a last weapon you get in the final section, but I’ll leave that as a surprise given the runtime is only a handful of hours.

What’s most interesting is that every weapon has unlimited ammo, so there’s no need to scrounge around to find more or wait to defeat enemies to drop some. This is where the needing to use the right weapon for the right fashion crime comes in, and when you have multiple different enemy types coming at you all at once, this is where it becomes chaotic as you try and figure out who to attack first to placate by fixing their clothing. Even at the end there were new enemy types being introduced, and while some were much more annoying than others, it was generally easy to remember which enemy type needs which type of weapon to defeat. My main complaint is that some of the arenas you get locked into at times are quite small and when you have a dozen enemies to defeat, it gets hectic at times.

Thankfully you have a special meter that fills slowly, allowing you to use your Fabulous Slap Glove, essentially an instant kill attack move for a short period of time, best saved for those chaotic portions with waves of enemies. There’s a few levels that try to break up the monotony by having a sniper section where you have different gnome ammo depending if people need their hair, shoes or clothing ‘fixed’, and another where you’re in a car chase using a turret to defeat your enemies as well. These did break up the repetition a bit, but I didn’t enjoy these sections as much as I thought I would. Fashion Police Squad shines best in its unique boss battles, especially the one halfway through that I won’t spoil, but references a number of gaming tropes.

The 2D pixel models in a 3D world isn’t anything new, but it works well here and looks quite stylish, of course. The world is bright and colorful and has plenty of style. There’s a lot of smaller details that make the world more fun and it’s hard to not smile while playing. The soundtrack is done quite well, and while I wished more than the opening sequence was voiced, each gun sounds unique and it’s obvious which enemies are nearby with their lines, even if they are repeated quite often with the low enemy variety.

Sure, Fashion Police Squad is like any other classic shooter but with a gimmick, but it’s a fun one. Full of humor, puns and fashion one-liners, it’s hard not to smile every so often, especially when a new enemy is introduced, because you know you’ve seen this very exact fashion crime at some point. With its classic Doom inspiration, it’s certainly one of the more unique FPS games I’ve ever played, full of fashion and style.

**Fashion Police Squad was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.2 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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