This is the Police is, in its basic form, a police strategy game, wrapped inside a story featuring the last days of a stereotypical chief of police, Jack Boyd, in the fictional city of Freeburg in the late 1980’s. Is This is the Police worthy of a commendation for bravery in the face of adversity, or should it be read its rights and locked up?
This is the Police was developed by Weappy Studio, published by Nordic Games and Eurovideo Medien and originally released in July 2016 on the PC.
At the start of the game, Jack is told he is being retired from the force and given 180 day’s notice. He decides that to secure his future on retirement he needs to raise half a million pounds and soon finds himself being employed by the local criminal fraternities.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The voice acting in this game is wonderful. Jack Boyd is voiced by Jon St John, the person probably best known as the voice of Duke Nukem, and it is an absolute pleasure to listen to the dialogue in the cut scenes.
The main game mechanic is the day-to-day strategy game. The main screen is a map overview of the city, with your current squad along the bottom, with crimes in the top left and messages in the top right. You are alerted to a new occurrence of both of these via an alert and using the LT or RT buttons allow you to select and open these to see the details. Opening an alert to a crime being committed will give you the description of the crime and will allow you to allocate resource to deal with it.
Two things can happen at this point. Either the crime is dealt with and you receive a message informing you of the outcome, or a dialogue box will open allowing you to make a decision on what your officers should do. The decision made will either have a positive or negative outcome, so choose carefully. Once your officers are sent out to deal with the crime in process they are unable to be selected for another crime, so you can soon find your whole squad out of action. There are also “false alarms” of crimes which you can choose to ignore. Dealing with a crime successfully will give your police positive XP, but if they don’t then it will be lost. A message will inform you of the outcome, and at this point your police will return to the station ready for their next assignment.
Various messages will also appear, generally from City Hall or your “criminal” friends, and most of these require you to allocate officers to a non-crime related function or to ignore crimes taking place, of which you will be financially rewarded. If you send officers to help with a City Hall request, then they will unavailable for the rest of the day.
At any time, your police can be killed in action or they can quit. One request saw 3 officers sent to help out with the filming of a TV show, and afterwards one of my officers quit to become an actor!
Your squad are also needy and whingy, and at the start of every shift you have to deal with their requests to have the day off, such as the pathetic “I want to go to the big sale at the local store” to the understandable “My son is performing in a big concert and I want to watch him”, but generally they moan about being too tired or “I’m still drunk from last night!” One of my officers actually died in a car accident from being drunk! Each day in Freeburg follows this same pattern, and it’s a constant juggle of resources to solve crimes, and keep the mafia and City Hall happy.
You also have management options for the Police Station, City Hall and your various criminal alliances. These allow you to do the normal things like hire and fire staff, request new police officers and send them on training. There are also the darker requests, like hire a criminal to have certain officers killed, or to hire private investigators to find out which of your squad is plotting against you.
One area of This is the Police that breaks the monotony of the main game is investigations. Your squad also has a team of detectives that you allocate to solve these crimes. This is done via a storyboard sequence of the crime. There are clues and witness statements that need to be read and by putting the storyboard pictures in order the crime is solved. These are interesting but frustrating and often requires you to try many different solutions to solve them.
Occasionally a cut scene will play in-between the days of the main game, and are generally well written and funny, but they rarely require you to make decisions, and when they do they have little impact on the story.
I have many frustrations with This is the police, ranging from small errors such as spelling mistakes in the cut scenes and on the crime descriptions and also the larger ones which have more of an impact. Keeping City Hall happy is the worst of these. On one occasion I refused to follow an instruction from them, because all my officers were already allocated to solving crimes so I had no choice but to refuse. This resulted in my budget being cut and I had to fire an officer. This in turn meant that on subsequent days I struggled to fulfill all requests, which meant City Hall was unhappy with my performance and I lost another squad member. By day 60 I had no extra police from when the game started but the game felt more demanding.
My other main concern is of some of the situations you are put in. Firing all black cops and forcefully dealing with a peaceful LGBT just didn’t seem appropriate given the current world matters, but this game is based in the 1980’s so maybe it was meant to show the political differences now and then.
But the main downside of the game. Each day of gameplay is the same, and after 60 days I felt like I had seen and done everything the game had to offer. This had taken me 7 hours of gameplay and it felt unjustifiable to potentially put another 14 hours in to complete it, especially with all the other, better, games currently being released. Even though the story was good, it wasn’t that good!