This Is the Police is a gripping police game with a narrative told in a great fashion due to some superb dialogue and spot-on voice acting. It’s also a decent and fun game with creative ideas, but unfortunately, it’s let down by early repetition, poor execution and some clumsy handling of real-life sensitive issues, such as racism, sexism and police brutality. This Is the Police is a game that doesn’t fully reach its potential because of the severe lack of variety and any ability to keep your attention for a long period of time.
This Is the Police is, essentially, a real-time management game developed by indie developer Weappy Studio in which you take on the role of Jack Boyd, the protagonist of this crime drama story. Jack is the Chief of Police in the fictional city of Freeburg, who is being threatened with forced retirement by his own superiors and higher-ups within a workplace full of corrupted, murderous and money scheming individuals, so it’s up to you to lead the Freeburg Police Department by avoiding all kinds of controversy. Therefore, you can clean up the city or turn a blind eye and let it rot so you can benefit from the chaos right up until your time expires.
Your main objective here is to make $500,000 within 180 days by any means necessary, such as selling police evidence like weapons and drugs, doing massive unlawful favors for the local mafia, or ensuring the happiness of City Hall by remaining obedient, even if it is against your morals and better judgement so you can rake in your weekly salary without any pay-cuts.
The story is presented and told via very colourful cutscenes which adopt a newspaper comic book strip art style. It’s very stylish and brings much needed personality to the game, and to top it off, the main protagonist is voiced by the legendary Jon St. John, better known as the iconic badass Duke Nukem. He plays a vital role in telling the gripping story consisting of a tense plot of danger, shocking twists and memorable moments capped off by brilliant dialogue.
The role that you play forces you to micro-manage your police units, S.W.A.T teams and homicide detectives on a day-to-day basis. You will take control of two different rotas that have different officers rosters, and each new day will bring you to the isometric map screen which allows you to get an overview look at the city of Freeburg. It’s then up to you to decide how you will get things done. You will get calls throughout the day regarding crimes-in-progress with some crimes, like assault, homicide and armed robbery, being more serious than others and will require more manpower and time to defuse with a positive outcome. Whereas some minor crimes only require one or two decent cops to get the job done, it’s entirely your decision which police officer you send out, and it’s very important that you don’t stretch yourself out to thin over the course of a particular rota.
My favourite part of the game is investigations that you undertake with your detectives. Each case is different, and you must pick a lead detective to take charge. You’ll have to wait until they gather clues, and then it’s down to you to solve the puzzle of evidence on how the crime or murder took place. In each case you will have statements from the eyewitnesses or people connected to the crime, and once you’ve read all the clues, you will need to put together a sequence of how the crime visually happened using different frames to reconstruct the crime. It’s a nice little distraction from the rest of the game, as it helps to stop some of the repetition and feels rewarding once you crack a case for yourself.
This Is the Police tries to introduce very sensitive real-life issues into the mix, and usually a game would get commended for this, but unfortunately, it feels forced and half-assed in the end, coming across as offensive and embarrassing. For example, the City Hall orders you to fire all cops that are black as part of the narrative, but nothing ever comes of it as there is no story development and no repercussions for doing this terrible action, so in the end, the result is lacklustre with no substance.
The game also suffers from a lack of variety, meaning there aren’t a lot of different things to do in the game, and once you get past the 31 day mark, you’ve mostly done everything that the game can offer. Early repetition will set in too as you end up doing the same mundane routine all the time. Basic crime calls are similar and get old fast, resulting in the story getting hindered because it doesn’t seem worth the trouble slogging through it to reach the end.
Developer: Weappy Studios
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 22nd March 2017