Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Nordic Games
Developer: Weappy Studio
While the first This is the Police had its share of problems, it was still an interesting game. Its politics were, to be generous, questionable — case in point: you were forced to fire all your black police officers to appease a group of violent racist gang, and if you refused to comply the game would punish you — but its gameplay was interesting. Like any good management sim, it was easy to get sucked into the rhythm of the day-to-day tasks of running a police force, sending officers out as calls came in and figuring out how to manage your resources effectively. On top of that, This is the Police?s overarching story, about a cop facing mandatory retirement trying to balance his finances, his family, and his future, kept things running along at a brisk pace. I wouldn?t say I loved the game, but there were undeniably moments where you could see it had some good ideas, and it made me interested to see how those ideas evolved in This is the Police 2.
The short answer: they didn?t. In fact, This is the Police 2, all the good qualities get pushed into the background, in favour of amplifying and ramping up all the things that made the first game less successful than it could have been.
Take, for example, the story and the voice acting. In the first game, it was serviceable – not great, by any stretch, but it kept things moving along. In This is the Police 2, by contrast, it?s not just front and centre, it?s so prominent that it practically transforms the game from a management sim into a visual novel with a few management and X-COM-style strategy elements thrown in for good measure. Rare are the days that go by without being preceded or followed by a lengthy cutscene — and, unfortunately, rarer still are the cutscenes that add all that much to the game.
What?s more, they serve to highlight two unfortunate facts. First, that the voice acting in this game is atrocious. Nearly everyone affects a terrible accent, and few of the voice actors are capable of making their lines sound like anything more than scripted words being read off a page. Mind you — and this is the second unfortunate fact — not even the greatest actors in the world would be capable of elevating this script into realistic-sounding dialogue. The game is set in a town that?s clearly American, given all the references and cultural signifiers, but the characters speak in ways that sound like they?re being filtered through Google Translate.
This is the Police 2 also struggles with balance, in more ways than one. The good thing about the first game was that it gave you a range of crimes to deal with — sometimes you?d get a hit-and-run or a person playing a movie too loud, other times you?d have a murder or a robbery. Here, by contrast, it doesn?t feel like there?s as much variety. I had a couple of days in a row where multiple people had the police called on them for public defecation, which seems like a pretty high number, even for a town as crappy (pardon the pun) as Sharpwood. Not only that, the rewards and penalties seem way out of whack here. You get penalized for letting a cyclist riding his bike dangerously get away, but if you break the spine of one of those poopers, there aren?t any consequences. Likewise, the outcomes seem completely random, with no apparent rhyme or reason as to why you?re successful at resolving some problems but not others.
Even worse, this game?s difficulty level seems way off-kilter. In the first game you had to deal with usual HR issues that would prevent a couple of people working on any given day. This time out, all the cops seem to be exhausted when they work more than two days in a row — and that?s assuming they show up for work in the first place, which is no guarantee, since the absenteeism rate here seems ridiculously high. Not only that, even when you do have a nearly-full complement of cops, you still won?t have enough people on hand, since they regularly refuse to go on calls. It?s theoretically possible, I guess, that the game is trying to make some point about the power of police unions and how protected workers can be — which, given the game?s politics, might actually make sense, depending on how you look at it — but it seems more likely that the developers just felt like making This is the Police 2 really, really difficult.
That explanation seems even more likely when you consider this game?s big addition: tactical, turn-based battles. To put it bluntly: they?re super hard. They?re almost all dependent on being extremely stealthy, and they have virtually no room for error — one wrong move, and your missing will almost certainly end in failure and death. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that only some of your officers will listen to you on any given mission, since you have to worry about disloyal cops on top of everything else.
And, of course, there are the game?s politics. Given how iffy they were last time out, it should come as no surprise that they?re equally questionable now, with all kinds of odd representations of class, sex, and race. I get that this game is supposed to be a modern-day noir, which means that almost everyone is rotten, but the way the game pushes some agendas over others is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
But, in all honesty, if you?re looking for reasons why you shouldn?t play This is the Police 2, its politics are so far down the list they barely even rate. Between the lousy voice acting, the crappy script, the over-reliance on cutscenes, and the absurd difficulty spikes, this game is littered with problems, and regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, it?s not going to be worth your time or money.
Nordic Games provided us with a This is the Police 2 Switch code for review purposes.