Kickstarter is a hit and miss platform for finding games from unknown developers. In 2016, The original This is the Police released on PC after utilizing the crowd-funding platform. For all intents and purposes, the original was a digital tabletop game. Players did little more than ensure that policemen were sent to crimes that popped up on the city map. At the end of every workday, players were given a little bit more story as a reward. Under the surface, the original was an interesting look at the politics and temptations that a police chief at the end of his career may have to deal with. After two years, This is the Police 2 has released, taking the original formula and expanding on it in new and exciting ways.
Gameplay: X-Com Point and Click Edition
In This is the Police 2, players are put right back into the comfortable and familiar loop of the original. Most of the time will be spent looking at a map of a town with calls coming in requiring the assistance of the police. Players step into the role of dispatcher, sending one or more policemen to the call. Occasionally, there will be decisions that must be made to ensure the success or bloody, fatal failure of the responding boys in blue. A new expansion to the original game is that each of the policemen have a simple skill tree and can be outfitted with various weapons at the start of each day. This adds another layer of resource management to the already quite hectic resource management of the original. Even though the policemen under your command are nothing more than cards with a picture on them, this upgrade system allows the player to feel some sort of emotional connection with the characters. This can lead to some painful losses as the game’s permadeath takes away an officer that the player has spent time investing in their growth.
Many days will have a major event which will need the use of as many policemen as are available. The player is then thrown into a strategy event, tasked with using their wits and whatever skills the available policemen have learned to bring a resolution (peaceful or not) to the event. The gameplay in these moments is very reminiscent of the X-Com games. The player can guide their team to hide behind cover (which affords an amount of protection), arrest (or kill) the enemy team who are just as deadly as the policemen. If the player takes an officer with too low of a trust rating, the officer will do their own thing, often getting themselves and others killed. One wrong move and you’ll be organizing a policemen’s funeral.
Unfortunately, This is the Police 2 is not a step forward in every way. Unlike with the original, much of the political maneuvering and kissing up to city hall to keep a well-balanced police force is mostly gone. Getting new policemen is as easy as earing can tabs for making arrests and generally doing good throughout the day. I never felt that I was making any hard decisions due to being short staffed – one of the major tensions of the original. It makes thing more toothless this time around.
Graphics: Eyes and Mouths Were a Mistake
The art style of This is the Police 2 continues along the same lines as the original entry. There is a static map where the calls come in. Each officer has a stylized photo on their game cards, doing a better job than the last game at allowing the player to be able to pick the characters apart. During cutscenes, all characters in the game are nothing more than silhouettes, amorphous blobs with hair and clothes. It is a good way to cut down on processing resources, so the game is able to run on a wider range of PCs.
Strangely, the developers decided to occasionally add eyes and mouths to the characters in particularly dramatic moments. It adds to the drama but looks creepy. It is a small thing, but cannot be overstated as to how much it ruins the immersion that the game is going for.
Story: The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost
The original This is the Police was the story of Jack Boyd, police commissioner of the large city of Freeburg who, through political maneuvering, is being forcibly retired within the next 90 days. Unfortunately, Jack has no retirement and not a lot of time to earn a nest egg since he thought he had many more years left in his career. Eventually, the only honest city official finds himself in bed with the city’s mafia and must balance doing his job upholding the law and allowing his new mafia bosses to do whatever they want.
This is the Police 2 picks up where the original left off. Jack Boyd is on the run when his mafia connections come to light. He settles in a small town for a while, when he is mistakenly arrested for drug possession. He is drawn back into the police game as a favor to the small-town sheriff who is in over her head. It is a bit convoluted in its setup, but once things get going it is easy to lose yourself in the world of Jack Boyd who is given a gravely gravitas by John St. John. In fact, all voice acting is well done, hitting the right notes a majority of the time.
A Worthwhile Romp Through Small Town America
This is the Police 2 is a worthwhile sequel to the 2016 surprise hit original. The things that worked in the first game are expanded on in organic and exciting ways. While there are a few missteps, what works is well done and detracts from the bad things. It presents a story that is good for little spurts, but deep enough to be engrossed for hours at a time. When playing, the hours melt away. The protagonist Jack Boyd is interesting enough to both root for him to succeed and to be frustrated when he lets his flaws bring him down. I would have liked to see a more nuanced take on being a police commissioner as in the first game, but it’s not enough to bring down a worthwhile gameplay experience.
- THE GOOD
- Great Art Style
- Deep Strategy Gameplay
- Excellent Story
- Great Voice Actors
- THE BAD
- The Political Intrigue is Sadly Lacking
- The Eyes and Mouths During Cutscenes
This is the Police 2 is a worthwhile sequel to the 2016 surprise hit original. The things that worked in the first game are expanded on in organic and exciting ways. While there are a few missteps, what works is well done and detracts from the bad things. It presents a story that is good for little spurts, but deep enough to be engrossed for hours at a time. When playing, the hours melt away.
Jonathan Thornburg has been playing games for almost 25 years, and in that time has developed a love for the Gaming Industry. He plays on the PS4 mostly, but can be found indulging in games from the past 25 years as well. He streams on twitch.tv/leftstick and uploads to youtube.com/c/leftstickgaming.