Following swiftly on from its release on the PC a small while back, This is the Police 2 is now readily available on console. I think we can all agree that police work is a tough line of duty, for the most part. Having a game that almost recreates that level of motivation and endurance should be fun, but unfortunately, This is the Police 2 falls slightly short of the mark. By and large, this is a better version of the predecessor’s foundation, but it’s still quite a grueling experience that doesn’t quite tick the boxes that it needed to, despite its improvements.
The game is based six months following the events of the first game and is situated in the fictional town of Sharpwood – a place that’s described as a border town that’s rife with crime and corruption, home to all forms of scumbag. Young sheriff Lilly Reed, together with fugitive Jack Boyd, must team up, gain allies and even bend the law they swore to uphold to see their newfound predicament through. The majority of the game’s decision making is totally in your hands, and it falls to you to make some pretty tough calls throughout the entirety of the trek.
I’m not going to dive into the specifics of the plot, but what I will say is that the story is very, very slow. So much so that for me, it was almost too slow to the point of boredom. Mercifully it begins to open up more once a number of hours have been sunk in, but as far as first impressions go, This is the Police 2 didn’t get off to a great start. Later in, however, it does shine its interesting concepts through quite nicely. Players oversee the sheriff’s office in the aforementioned town, in which here, you’ll oversee your day to day duties and law enforcing.
There’s a short, yet informative tutorial that feeds you into the basics of play; movement, engagement and so forth, and when this is up, you’re on your own. We quickly learn that Lilly doesn’t command much respect from her male peers, with her demands oftentimes falling to the wayside. However, following an unfortunate turn of events and just before Lilly is about to lose her mind, she ends up falling inline with Jack, and thus, their combined journey begins, a daunting journey that sees them working in unity in the hopes to pull Sharpwood back on track.
Once the main set pieces are in place, the game gradually unfolds at a brisk pace. Jack falls under Lilly’s command and serves as her right hand man in an attempt to bring some order back to how a station should be run. You’ll decide who comes to work and on what day, and what role they’re assigned with. You’re able to select which officers take weapons on their patrols, all of whom enjoy their own level of skill; stealth, shooting, speed, strength, intelligence and negotiation. These traits will offer abilities once maxed, for use in special tasks later on.
There’s also a star rating for each officer, which ultimately determines how good they are. The kicker here is that this can be a blessing and a curse, given that some officers will refuse to work with lower leveled officers, promoting a sense of management and organisation when it comes to the fields of play. Players will also need to balance every day life and understand that you’re in charge of folks that will behave like any ordinary person. This means that, at times, some will refuse to come to work, ask for time off, or turn up with a banging hangover.
I’ll admit, the management side of this game can be somewhat tedious when you’re dealt a bad hand. The key, however, is balance. Paying attention to the needs of your staff will achieve a better outcome, whereas not doing so will result in the opposite. Once you’ve sorted your daily team, it’s time to turn on the radio and wait for the calls to start clocking in. Calls have their own time limits and requirements. If you miss a call, you’re going to feel it at the end of the working day. Each mission comes with a level limit that needs to be met before you can send out a squad.
Successfully completed missions will rank up the attending officer (and vice versa for failure) and once a level up has been achieved, you’ll earn a new skill point to distribute as you so see fit. There’s a wide range of different, unique and testing scenarios to answer to in This is the Police 2, from the most devastating of calls to something as simple as trying to get an officer to wear a hat, you’ll find no shortage of proverbial brick walls to knock down. Push your staff too hard and they’ll rebel, but show some leniency and they might show you some respect over time.
Much like in real life, some calls may be a waste of time or a hoax. Yet, once again, it falls to your discretion to distribute your staff as you see fit. Sending a specific officer to a non-emergency call may cost you dearly if you need them elsewhere, just moments later. You’ll also need to mindful of how crime is solved, being that if you’re efficient and lucky, one perp’s conviction may lead you to another. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the SWAT-esque side of This it the Police 2, which is served as a top-down turn-based affair.
During these gameplay segments, you’ll have many different aspects to work around. For example, you’ll need to work out who has what gear; tasers, batons, pepper spray and so forth. What’s important is that these need to be used under the correct circumstances to yield better results. Each turn will afford you two movements per on-field player. This is where This is the Police 2 becomes a much more tactical game. Do you move deeper into your immediate environments with both moves? Or move once and blast your gun in the other?
Do you creep close to a window or door to see what’s inside? Or go in all guns blazing? Planning your route and understanding what sits ahead is equally as important as anything else. It can indeed be a very jarring experience to get to grips with at first, especially for first time players, but bear with it, because it’s easily one of the most fun parts of the game. My only gripe is that during these moments, you’re unable to manipulate the camera. The default layout is oftentimes tricky to get any line of sight, which can be beyond frustrating.
With that to the side, there’s not a lot to groan about here. I enjoyed strategically planning the best, most realistic route to my opposition, blasting my foes to pieces and arresting any left alive. It’s an empowering, but hardly a deep system. The bottom line here is that much like the first game, This is the Police 2 sees you juggling a range of responsibilities and problems. You’ll need to handle all of this as well as making enough money to please the person that’s blackmailing you. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but the systems in place are indeed robust enough to please fans of the concept.
Touching up on the visual and audio design, I cant say that I’ve been impressed. The simple, at times effective color palette is used to a good degree, but even so there’s a considerable lack of detail that’s hard to overlook. I cant say I got on with the design choices as far as the cutscenes are concerned either. The faceless outlook just breaks immersion, making everyone feel rather alien and devoid of character. The audio, on the other hand, does a good enough job to see the game through, though again, it’s hardly going above and beyond to truly stand out.
This is the Police 2’s constant flurry of management objectives helps to keep players on their toes, but there’s no denying that this loop becomes fairly tired before too long. The addition of its strategic battle sequences helps to alleviate this to some degree, but when all is said and done, it’s hard to overlook its repetition. Still, for those that enjoyed the first game, the sequel offers a more refined and better structured experience.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.