Sometimes you’re not sure what kind of game you want to play. Maybe you want X-COM-style, isometric turn-based combat, but maybe you also want a management game. Maybe you just want to sit back and enjoy a visual novel, but the same time you want a solve-the-crime style puzzle game, ala the Sherlock Holmes series of adventure mystery games. I know I have, on many occasions, wanted to start up a game, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to play. Just because a game does a lot of things, and does those things well, doesn’t mean that that those things go together well though. That’s where This Is The Police 2 comes in.
This Is The Police 2 is a management game developed by Weappy Studios. The sequel to 2016’s This Is The Police, This Is The Police 2 follows Jack Boyd, former police chief of Freeburg, after he has fled Freeburg as a result of being framed for several crimes. He finds himself in Sharpwood, a Fargo-esque town rife with crime and corruption. Now under the name Warren Nash, it’s up to Boyd to assist Sharpwood’s VERY new sheriff Lilly Reed in bringing the town, and the cops under her command and under control.
This Is The Police 2, while mixing several genres of games, is primarily a management game. The majority of gameplay consists of getting calls involving crimes and having to respond appropriately. As is befitting your status as unofficial sheriff, you have many cops under your control, all with different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. This is presented through the stats of your cops, which fall under Intelligence, Speed, Shooting, Strength, Negotiation, and Stealth, all of which affect what your cop is best at. Say you get a call about an old lady having a fit at the bank because the line is taking too long (which is an actual call you can get, by the way) if you send in a cop with high Negotiation, they can talk the woman down with no force necessary. However, if you try the same thing with a cop with low Negotiation, that old woman may end up trying to attack someone, and you’ll be forced to, well, use force. This really makes you think ahead when sending cops to respond to a call, as you have to make educated guesses about how the situation may turn out and prepare for it appropriately. Weaknesses show themselves in more than just low stats. Some cops are drunks, and some don’t get along with others–sometimes because a cop has a very low level of professionalism, meaning they can’t be sent on calls together. Some just won’t show up to work, leaving you short handed. Cops also have an energy meter which is used up as they are assigned calls. If you schedule a cop for day when their energy is too low, they may fall asleep at the wheel on the way to a crime and become injured or die, meaning that switching out cops everyday is incredibly important. You can equip your cops with various types of equipment, including flash bangs, pepper spray, batons, and tasers (as well as additional cartridges for the taser). You can auto-assign equipment, but I always liked doing it manually.
Equipment is used during both the management part of gameplay, as well as the turn-based portion. All calls that you get have a minimum level of professionalism required, with more dangerous calls requiring more professionalism, and all officers having their own professionalism level. Officers gain more professionalism as they successfully complete calls, which allows you to increase their level in any attribute. Gaining levels in attributes will also unlock perks for your officers, with each officer being able to equip a maximum of four perks. Perks are only used during the turn-based portion, and give your officers new abilities, like being able to interrogate arrested enemies in order to reveal all other enemies for one turn. While all of these systems go together well, they can become incredibly complicated to juggle, and it can become stressful, but not in a good way–especially when you fail a call because of forces out of your control.
Speaking of turn-based combat, This Is The Police 2’s combat is reminiscent of X-COM, with high difficulty and permadeath–kind of. Turn-based combat sections arise when you get calls involving more than just old men crapping on a bank’s desk (also a real call), and usually entail you infiltrating a criminal hideout or stopping a bank robbery. In these you take direct control of your officers, with the mission parameters changing depending on the mission. Turn-based combat is fun, but incredibly lethal, with one shot usually killing anyone. You can go at these missions in several ways: guns blazing or stealthy, lethal or non-lethal–the choice is yours. However, I found it almost a necessity to go stealthily and non-lethal, as one shot usually means death, and leaving criminals alive allows you to utilize perks like the aforementioned Interrogation perk, which is incredibly useful. I say that it’s kind of permadeath because you can retreat from the battle and restart whenever you want, which means you can retry a battle however many times you want if a cop dies. Unfortunately, this is to the detriment of the gameplay, because it takes away a lot of the tension that games like X-COM have. You can choose not to restart if things don’t go your way, and in that case, slain officers remain dead.
The atmosphere, art style, voice acting, and cutscenes makes up my favorite parts of This is the Police 2. The extreme brutality of some crimes you encounter (a woman getting her head split open on a counter by her lover, for instance), and the corruption and cruelty of the cops under you, really sells you on brutality of Sharpwood. The art style is unique, with a combination of minimalism and a cel-shaded style that gives it an almost comic book look, and adds to the noir feel of the game. Cut scenes are kind of strange, as they are either fully animated, or still, in the style of a visual novel. I’d have preferred it if the all of them were fully animated, as bouncing between the styles is kind of strange and the fully animated cutscenes really let the art style shine. As for the voice acting, it’s amazing: Jon St. John, best known for voicing Duke Nukem, does a great job as John Boyd, and really plays up his role as a cop who will do anything to get the job done–including brutalizing his own officers for insubordination. He accomplishes all of this without just sounding like Jon St. John playing a cop, something that voice actors who voice tons of characters have a tendency to do (sorry Troy Baker!), to the point that when I first heard Boyd’s voice, I wasn’t sure if it was Jon St. John or not. The supporting cast are all phenomenal as well, with Lilly Reed’s voice actor Sarah Hamilton really selling Reed as a woman thrown into a situation she wasn’t prepared for, while trying to order around people who don’t respect her.
Overall, This Is The Police 2 is a game that you’re either going to love or hate. If you love brutal, difficult turn-based combat and management games that really flesh out the people under you, I think you’ll really enjoy it. If you don’t, probably not so much. However, I’d still suggest giving This Is The Police 2 for the story and characters alone, as if this were made into a movie I’d watch it for sure.
This is the Police 2 is available on Xbox One, Steam, and PlayStation 4.
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