Being in charge of a police force is tough – as many of us would have experienced before in the original This is Police. Just like the life of a real world officer, you have too few officers and too many crimes to contend with. You have the mafia offering bribes on one side and the local mayors office asking you to turn a blind eye to the corruption all around you. Then you have the officers themselves to deal with; many have serious alcohol problems that affect how they do the job and some just want a day off so they can go and see their favourite movie star. And to compound all this, you are stuck with a limited budget, limited resources, and a limited patience. But hey, it’s all in the life of being the Sheriff.
This is the Police 2 follows on from where the original left off. Jack Boyd is back but he has left the city of Freeburg, where he was running the police force and getting in to trouble, instead finding himself hiding out under an alias in the small rural town of Sharpwood. The town has a very Fargo feel to it with its snowy vibe, local crime and small-town corruption. After Jack gets arrested he finds himself being asked by the bewildered Sheriff Lilly Reed to take over the running of the police force and that’s where the madness starts all over again.
You start each day with a list of police officers who are available for duty. Some of them will ring in sick or ask for days off with some excuse or another, and it’s up to you to balance both their needs and yours. Once you have the day’s shift sorted though, you then need to arm them with guns or tasers. Each officer has a different set of skill stats such as intelligence, shooting or stealth for example and you need to arm them appropriately. If you’re having an off-day, this is easy because you can just auto assign weaponry and let them get on with it. From there, a normal day ticks on by with you left staring at an overview of Sharpwood. A crime call will come in – ranging from a robbery to a mad person shouting in the street – with a set number of experience points attached and you’ll be left to match that number or better it by assigning specific cops.
Some incidents might turn out to be a false alarm, whilst others will be the real deal. Making the right decision about how to proceed and deal with a crime is order of the day and you’ll need to work your way through a number of text options, with This is the Police 2 running very much like a ‘choose-your-own adventure’ story. Make the right decision and you’ll make an arrest, gaining further experience points to spend on more cops for your police force. Make a bad decision though and the suspect will escape, quite possibly injuring or killing one of your cops in the process. When the blue line is already thin, you can’t afford too many mistakes.
You will also have to put up with the problems found in running a nick, running out of resources with the number of police you have available or finding that some cops just won’t take the call. I had one of my top guys refusing to go out on the beat with a female cop. Should I just dispense of him? In theory, I should, but then I have no funds to replace him and in the long term the struggle will be real. Issues like this ensure that This is the Police 2 is tricky, but that’s very much the point of the experience.
This is the Police 2 now drops in a further aspect for us to worry about, borrowing a little from X-COM and dropping in some turn-based strategy. It is up to you to place your cops in key positions around a specific scenario, allowing them to try and take down the criminals with a taser, shooting them in the leg, or going all-out with the ultimate kill shot. I have to admit to finding these sections pretty tough, wiping out two-thirds of my police force in one swift hit. Others will relish it though, especially as it brings something a little different to the usual detective mysteries that need to be solved, collecting evidence in order to piece together unfolding events. It is this which is still a great system and it ensures that This is the Police 2 is a lot of fun.
Story-wise and everything is solid and is well written, but there are issues with the pacing. Cutscenes can be very long and drawn out, and it would be preferred if there had been a bigger editing process put in place to make them a little shorter. Overall though it’s a good detective story with well defined characters and a solid tone.
This is the Police 2 also has an intelligent graphic novel feel in its presentation; all nicely framed scenes. Much like the original, the visual tone is decent but there have been some nice new touches included here and there, allowing it to make a step up from the first. The voiceover work is also of a very good standard, whilst the blues and jazz soundtrack is a brilliant addition and a must listen for fans.
Overall and there is lots to like about This is the Police 2, with it improving from the first game. It’s unlike anything else you’re likely to play, but I could easily do without the turn-based strategy sections that just annoy. Away from that though and the stories and characters are brilliant – although there are pacing problems throughout – but when it’s at its best and the jazz tunes are flowing, This is the Police 2 ensures that you will smell of cigarettes and cheap whiskey as you go about your investigative work into the wee small hours of the night.