Where do we start with Police Simulator: Patrol Officers?
Should we crack on with the neat little premise, one that gives players the chance to channel their inner cop, bringing justice to the world and ensuring the citizens of the land are kept safe and well?
Or should we bring up the multitude of issues that affect the game; the bugs, the glitches, the oddities, the general sense of this being created without a care in the world?
Nah, we’ll leave that juicy rubbish for a little later in our thoughts. But be warned, Police Simulator: Patrol Officers has been so badly put together that it should come with a health warning.
We’re not joking when we say that either as some of the lighting is so knackered, deeming the game near unplayable, that we’re worried it may cause some to have a fit. Granted, it does come with a generic ‘video games warning’ upon firing the game up – we’re just not sure it was meant to relate to what goes on quite so closely.
Anyways, Police Simulator: Patrol Officers very much attempts to do what it says on the tin. It whisks us players off to the world of Brighton, a fictitious American city, rocking up as Frank Miller, a new recruit at the Brighton Police Department. From there we turn up for duty, day in, day out, readying ourselves for our shifts, picking the crimes we want to focus on, ignoring the rest and heading out into the wide world in order to ensure the place is all the better for our existence. At least that’s the plan, for it doesn’t always go that way. In fact, rarely does it work out as intended. But that’s not through want of trying.
Initially your rounds will be done on foot as you pound the pavements, restricted to a fairly limited section of Brighton itself. Issuing parking fines, calling tow trucks, ticketing jaywalkers and warning litter droppers is very much all your first few days on the job will entail. From there, access to new pieces of equipment, radar guns and patrol cars, allow the opportunity to expand and grow, with experience stars ticking up and unlocking further areas as you go. That’s if you can bear to continue treading the thin blue line.
You see, Police Simulator: Patrol Officers doesn’t really work very well. Initial worries come to the fore in terms of the visuals, with blocky surroundings, uncanny valley facial characteristics, twirling heads, slow motion running and a whole host of glitching and bug-filled moments coming to the fore.
None of those are anything to really write home about though and, even in this era of uber realism, unfortunately we’ve come to expect this type of thing from this type of game. But it’s made all the worse here as it severely impacts on not just the enjoyment of the game, but whether or not the shifts you are trying to conclude, ever come to an end. It doesn’t really matter if you play Police Simulator on ‘casual’ or ‘simulation’ setting either; one is much more of a laugh than the other, but whilst the former lets pretty much every infraction go, the latter option can feel far too strict in law application.
Picking those shifts is the initial decision you need to make in Police Simulator and it’s nice that you can choose a length of time that suits you; running from fifteen real-world minutes up to much more lengthy affairs. Make your choice and as Brighton begins to open up, there are a host of areas which you can work from.
Waking up in a station, getting up from your desk and heading out into the wide world is a relatively simple affair, except for the fact that at times we’ve had the lighting in those internal areas strobing like we’ve never seen before in a game. Honestly, there have been a couple of moments with which we’ve had to switch off Police Simulator: Patrol Officers and go for a lie down, such is the severity of the light glitches and strobe effects. Hell, it’s been so bad at times that we’ve not even been able to leave the confines of our station, unable to navigate through to the outside world.
Strangely, all those strobes end the minute we make it outside and into the open landscape. But the bugs and glitches never die. Wandering the streets and driving around the neighbourhoods has allowed us the opportunity to see cars merge with one another at traffic lights and has let us run over more pedestrians than we care to remember, with them just walking off without a care in the world; sometimes walking over our car. That’s when playing in ‘casual’ but should you wish for things to become more realistic, it’s just too overbearing, with every slight issue amplified; a stop-start affair that ends in the conclusion of a promising career. Our favourite of all the actions in Police Simulator though has been putting on the blues and twos to pull over cars; cars which have then just decided to park mid-street to cause mile-long traffic jams; the AI-controlled drivers being too dumb to re-route themselves.
Don’t think we’ve had fun driving around Brighton though; we’d go as far to say that the vehicle mechanics and driving actions are up there amongst the worst we’ve seen for years; Tokyo Drift ain’t got nothing on the handling you’ll have of your patrol car.
Better still, as Frank Miller we’ve attended scenes of accidents in which nothing is wrong, until all of a sudden Police Simulator: Patrol Officers has decided to spring a few casualties our way, dropping people onto the floor, seemingly thrown from parked cars. Calling ambulances for these stricken folk helps in absolutely no way either, with paramedics and walking wounded barely making it back to the hospital. At one point we’ve even found a car landing right by our side as we’ve looked to collect photographic evidence, arriving at speed from nowhere to cause an accident within an accident. See, pop up and draw distances are, frankly, terrible. Ever tried using a radar gun on a car that just disappears from the world?
Things are so bad that we could probably sit here for hours detailing the strangest of situations that have unfolded whilst playing Police Simulator, with every single playthrough and gaming session seeing yet another issue crop up. Even when we thought we’d seen everything you could possibly imagine, something new will arise: suspects fleeing through walls is always fun to watch but it certainly doesn’t help you get a handle on your crime figures.
Even without those problems, the actual base mechanics are lacking. Your main goal in Police Simulator: Patrol Officers, no matter what your best intentions are, is to survey the scene ahead of you, interacting with vehicles, the drivers and the everyday men and women who are wandering Brighton. Don’t let us fool you, this is far from being a vibrant world.
It is however here where things are slightly redeemed, with a neat radial wheel allowing you the chance to check IDs, to breathalyse folk, to arrest, to search and more. It’s a system – probably the only system – in Police Simulator: Patrol Officers that works as intended, but again it’s then let down by the sheer incompetence of the AI that helps feed the conversation. A litter dropper and the responses they give may go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and back again in a matter of seconds, whilst handcuffed drivers may decide that they’ve had enough waiting around for a patrol van to pick them up to take them back to the cell, to instead wander off of their own accord. And I don’t mean to run away – they’ll just casually up and leave and there’s not a thing you can do about it. Of course, this is a police sim so there’s a chance your crims will try and run on occasion, but if they do, just don’t draw your gun on them – apparently shooting fleeing drug drivers in the leg is frowned upon in Brighton.
There’s absolutely no faulting the premise of Police Simulator: Patrol Officers. The idea behind it, that of living out the life of a cop looking to do good in the world is a neat one; it’s one that is full of interest and intrigue and should be something that many would want to experience. But as soon as you look past that initial premise, pretty much everything else in Police Simulator Patrol Officers goes wrong. It looks rubbish, has visual pop-up galore, draw distances that are no longer than your arm and a whole load of issues relating to how the world around you unfolds.
Clever use of an interactable radial wheel aside, Police Simulator: Patrol Officers should be handing in its badge for lack of care to the community, well before its shift is over.
Police Simulator: Patrol Officers is on the Xbox Store