Disclosure ‐ A copy of This Is the Police 2 was provided by THQ Nordic for the purpose of this review.
Sweet, I found some heroin.
This Is the Police 2 by Weappy Studio is a big game to unpack, and one that I had no idea would be so enjoyable. There is a lot I absolutely adore about the game: the mishmash of practically three separate games into one; the noir soundtrack that sits beautifully alongside the unique pastel art-style, and even the ridiculous, but at times, all too real humour. I had so much fun in the roughly 30 hours I spent playing this game, but it is far from a perfect experience. Each piece of this package suffers from slight inconveniences that will constantly frustrate you throughout your time with it, and the narrative — albeit interesting in some respects — falls prey to the game’s overall length.
There is also something I would like to add about aspects of This Is the Police 2’s writing, which didn’t affect my experience, but had me questioning why they were there in the first place. I’ll elaborate on this at the end of the review.
Let’s get the story out of the way because it is by far the worst aspect of the game. From what I understand, the central character of This Is the Police 2, Jack Boyde, is a return figure from the first entry into the series after he has fled the city of Freeburg as a wanted felon. While the validity of the charges are called into question almost immediately, it is clear that Boyde is a very tormented individual. His struggle to maintain anonymity in the remote town of Shirwood ultimately cascades in him running the police department. It is the struggle between Boyde’s remaining sense of humanity, and his desire not to be caught that underscores the entire story.
It sounds like an interesting premise, and on the face of it, it is. The problem stems from the fact that this very personal narrative is spread across very long cutscenes which contain characters and voice actors that pale in comparison to the focal point of Boyde. Each additional character just seems like an accessory; none of them have any development or resolution that doesn’t directly pertain to Boyde. Of course, this would be okay if THEY DIDN’T TALK SO GOD DAMN MUCH. It’s unfortunate because I really liked the comic-book style of the cutscenes at first, but after it’s been going on for 10 minutes, you just want out.
Perhaps it would have been better if it was a shorter campaign, and left a bunch of things to do after completing the story. I initially presumed you could continue to play after the credits, but I was wrong.
Put simply, the gameplay revolves around a management system, which instructs players to organise their suite of cops and allocate them to specific cases investigations, or dispatch calls throughout the working day. It sounds kind of boring, but that drifts away as soon as you encounter the second aspect of the game, a sort of, ‘choose your own’ adventure, whereby cops who arrive at the scene have to extinguish the situation. Whether you make the right call can mean the difference between multiple deaths including your own officers, or making buttloads of cash off confiscated heroin.
There are also assault missions, which require the player to take direct control of your chosen policemen in an XCOM-like turn-based strategy section. As your employees complete calls, they gain professionalism points, which can eventually be converted into new perks, that aid in both the turn-based part of the game and the dispatch request sections. For instance, a cop with high ‘negotiating’ skills can talk a person off the ledge during a dispatch, or convince a criminal to surrender in the direct-control missions. Professionalism is also represented as an overall stat, and certain calls can only be accepted with a combination of officers that meet the required professionalism.
However, the management doesn’t end there, as with any job, your employees are constantly calling in sick, asking for days off, refusing to work, and turning up to the job drunk or exhausted. All of these attributes affect one another, and micromanaging your cops so they don’t die in a car crash because they’re drink driving, but still making sure all dispatch calls get answered is stressful though satisfying at the same time. Though sometimes you just have to take a risk and hope the call is a false alarm which is also a thing! The game can at times be very hard, but I was glad that there is an option to retry direct-control missions and you can start the entire day over.
Investigations and raids are the final pieces of the puzzle. Raids are essentially long-form assault missions which require a lot of prep, and I’m unsure if there are more than two in the game. Investigations, on the other hand, necessitate cops to sit on the case for a day, garnering clues. Once you’ve assembled the pieces, you’re off to indict your suspect, but don’t be too hasty! You could be wrong, although you can also just pay $1000 to frame them. Sometimes I had an option to interrogate my suspect, which revealed new investigations. Money is also another aspect of management, as you’re constantly having to pay to keep an informant off your back, for me, I confiscated enough goods and sold them that money was never an issue.
Everything about the core gameplay design sounds great, right? Well, it is – I loved most of the time I played it. MOST, of the time. Sometimes, however, I was inflamed by a bunch of the UI and minor inconveniences that slowed my play time. For starters, there is no ‘end turn’ for each individual cop, so if you have no action left for them to do, but they can still move tiles, everytime you complete an action on another officer, it loops back to the one you don’t want to control.
What makes this minor problem worse, is that the only way to select another officer is by finding them and clicking on them, there is no shortcut to go to them. Well, here’s the thing, there IS a shortcut, but clicking on them does NOTHING. It doesn’t even highlight their stats, and there’s no way I’ve remembered which cops have which points in which important attribute. The lack of this key piece of information meant that many times I misjudged which officer could move then attack.
On top of that, the inventory system is clunky and frustrating, and it’s not clear how far criminals can see. In other turn-based games, unalerted enemies are surrounded by a different shade of tiles, representing what they can see. All of these small issues consist of fairly befuddling oversights, and they definitely frustrate the experience to some degree. Fortunately, the developers have already begun fixing a lot of the clunk, so hopefully more of these issues get attention.
There’s a lot to love about This Is the Police 2, and many of you will no doubt enjoy its engaging and diverse range of activities. It’s disappointing to me that my core complaints are things that seem so easily fixable, however, I’m also not a game developer. The only aspect of the game that couldn’t get a post-release patch for is the poorly paced story, but it’s easy to move past and there is some value in it. If you like how the game sounds, perhaps you might want to wait until the console releases (including Switch) in the next few months. In that time hopefully Weappy studio will have worked out the kinks.
Okay, so… Onto the parts of the writing that I alluded to earlier. On occasion, there is the use of some very derogatory language to refer to specific social groups (Think ‘F’ word for gays). I only saw it twice, however, because the game spends 90% of its time taking the piss out of every situation, the use of these words are seriously tone deaf. Similarly, the beginning of the game looks as though it’s going to tackle pertinent questions of abusive police and misogyny, but then it just disposes of these themes; they’re used cheaply for dramatic effect which is just in bad taste.