The life of a police officer is apparently an exciting one, at least if you believe the copious amounts of films, books, and literature over the years. Solving complicated murders, taking part in massive car chases, sliding over bonnets and still being able to look cool, are all part of the job description.
In reality, the police are stuck in a circle of paperwork, fact checking and the need to ensure all details are utterly watertight. Autobahn Police Simulator 3 tries to capture these worlds, letting you perform chases but also ensuring that you pay attention to the forensic work as well. It’s a funny game – but I’m not sure if that is intentional or not.
Autobahn Police Simulator first started out in 2015, aiming to provide a realistic account of the life of a police officer, one rolling on the famous German Autobahns. They are games that have become extremely popular on PC, and now on console we have a chance to play the third in the franchise.
There’s a whole narrative going on here; something that is pretty unusual for a sim game of this type. You play as your chosen rookie avatar as you head off into the world of the police force, teaming up with your partner in anti-crime. You see, you have come back into the force after some recent time off, recovering from a street driving accident. It’s your job to bring down a gang, but you need to do some of the grunt work first.
The dialogue is a bit cliche and hackneyed; maybe it’s the German translation to English, but I found it all a bit humorous. I don’t think it’s meant to be like that, but the characters are quite over the top, as are some of the scenes you deal with; like a traffic accident involving cows and an angry businessman. This wouldn’t be so bad in itself, and it has a bit of a GTA vibe to it, if only the gameplay wasn’t so strange at times.
Autobahn Police Simulator 3 fits a lot into its gameplay, but none of it particularly works as it should. For example, if we take the driving – a core element of a motorway police game – and you’ll find that the cars feel light. The responses, when you move in any direction are too quick and you’ll find yourself bouncing off down the freeway in no time. The whole physics of the mechanics feel off and certainly don’t work when compared to any other driving game.
It’s all a bit basic in terms of what you need to do too. You may have to look for a driver who has a warrant out for his arrest, and perhaps you know that they are driving a blue car. You pretty much just pull over a few blue cars until you get the right one. Making them stop is a nightmare too, as you either pull over next to them, ram them, or stop in front. And when you get them to stop, Autobahn Police Simulator 3 could result in a shootout or if you’re checking the driving license for forged docs, it comes across a bit like Papers, Please.
Getting off the road and walking about the station can be hard as well, mostly as the camera is all over the place, jerking and twisting makes it annoying. In fact, the one big thing going for Autobahn Police Simulator 3 is found in the variety of tasks; some of these are quite fun. Early on in the game, you might find an accident, left to put cones out on the motorway before photographing the scene, collecting statements and then putting together a sketch of what actually happened. These tasks could be great, but it just needs a better engine behind it to ensure what the developers have visualised can be turned into an actual reality.
The same can be said for the visuals. The character models look strange and a bit waxy, whilst stuttering and dropped framerates are all over the place. It’s not helped by a fair bit of pop-in while out in the world. And Autobahn Police Simulator 3 doesn’t look anything like a game that is worthy of a place on this generation of console. In fact, I’m not sure it looks like a last gen type of game either.
And then soundwise, whilst the voice acting tries hard in the translation of the German to English script, it doesn’t work. Like I said before it’s almost like a Naked Gun comedy at times; personally I quite enjoy that. The rest of the effects are fine and the soundtrack is okay throughout.
Given the premise that focuses on a police officer doing their job, Autobahn Police Simulator 3 should be appealing. The reality is that the mechanics can’t keep up with the ambition of what the game wants to do. I admired and enjoyed the variety of tasks and the attempted narrative that tries to bring it together, but there are problems galore and so we can only hope that the next game in the franchise is able to iron out these issues, to be able to give us the police sim game we all want to play.
Autobahn Police Simulator 3 is available from the Xbox Store