This is the Police was a pleasant surprise when it launched back in 2016. It was a game where you managed the cops in your precinct as you dealt with crime, corruption and intrigue all whilst aiming to raise 500k within 180 days as a retirement ‘bonus’. Weappy Studios has stepped up their game with This is the Police 2 as we continue the story of Jack Boyd, only within a new town with a few new mechanics thrown in to keep things interesting. This time around you’ll be dealing with corruption once again as you aim to stay out of prison and remain hidden from the Feds, a task which is hard to do when you’re also in ‘control’ of the local PD.
This is the Police 2 has a pretty strange beginning. Not strange as in quirky or different, but strange as in it took about an hour until I was actually given the reins of the game. There is a lot of exposition, cutscenes, tutorials, and backstory given at the beginning. Those of you who have completed the original game will love how the sequel follows on from the corruption and how everything is all intertwined, especially later on when you see the story from the eyes of those still chasing down Jack by interrogating the people he once knew in Freeburg.
This time around, all the action will be taking place within a small town called Sharpwood. This is a small town where everyone knows their neighbours, traditions are strong and slightly barbaric, and people will call 911 over anything! The town is also the perfect hiding place for drug dealers, smugglers and gangs, as nobody has heard of Sharpwood, it’s the perfect haven for those who wish to remain hidden, just like ‘Warren Nash’. Warren has taken residence within an old cabin which, unbeknown to him, is the drop-off and collection point for the aforementioned drug dealers. As such, he is promptly arrested and taken to see the newly appointed Sherrif, a young lady called Lilly Reed who doubts herself more than she doubts the integrity of her town and squad.
After a few backwards and forwards conversations with Warren, it’s discovered that he is, in fact, Jack Boyd who is now on the run from the Feds which wish to question him over the 500k he took. Seeing as Lilly will take all the help she can right now, she offers to remain silent in exchange for your help in turning this small town around. As such, you must perform your job well – managing the 911 calls, solving the picture-based investigations, performing XCOM style action sequences and more – otherwise, she’ll call the Feds and hint them on where you are. It wouldn’t be too bad, but she isn’t the only one out to blackmail and take advantage of you within this game of deceit, corruption, trust, and instinct.
911, how can I help?
The main portion of This is the Police 2, when you actually regain control over the action, is very similar to the original game. As you can see above, you are shown a semi 3D map of Sharpwood which remains active until 1-am every day. Throughout the day, you’ll get phone calls from various people regarding incidents that are happening and it’s up to you to decide if the incident sounds valid and which officers you wish to send out to the scene. Each of these ‘pop-ups’ has a strict time limit on them, so you need to ensure you manage your team so that you have officers available at the station – officers who are out can’t respond to a call unless they return to the station first.
The incidents within This is the Police 2 are freaking hilarious though! At one point I had a grandmother threatening to castrate her grandson with a sickle because she caught him masturbating, another had an old man making a ‘deposit’ on a bank managers car because he couldn’t get a loan, and I even had a guy standing on a van and peeing on anyone who walked past! It all gets very surreal and makes me wonder why all these strange people seem to have gravitated towards living in this small town!
Once the timer hits zero, you miss the call. This can result in either a good (green) reply advising you it was nothing serious and it was just some people messing about (one example is a report of a man beating his dog with a stick but he was merely throwing it for him to catch), or a bad (red) message if it went wrong (a guy asking for a BJ in exchange for gas will lead to rape then death if left unattended to!). Also, if the day hits 1:00 am and you have unanswered calls, they are also counted as unattended and lost. Every missed and solved case has consequences, which I’ll come to later.
Again, just like the original game, in This is the Police 2 you have a fair amount of investigations to… investigate. These are purple pop-ups initially and the case will remain with you every day until you solve it. You can assign up to three cops to the investigation each day, the downside is that whoever is investigating can’t perform any other actions that day until around about 11:00 pm. The investigations come in the form of a story-board with a bunch of clues. You’ll have a few ‘suspects’ with their own ‘scenes’ and a bunch of witness interview statements. It’s up to you to read the statements, work out what actually happened, then put the correct suspect’s images in the correct order for the crime, and then submit it as the final conclusion.
I found these investigations to be pretty hard, not because it’s difficult to work out who the culprit was and the order in which to put the images, but because it takes a very long time to unlock all the images and clues. You don’t want to put too many cops on the investigation if you don’t have that many on duty for the day, but you don’t want to not put any on it as it means another day with no further progress. As such, I found it pretty hard during the first 3-4 weeks of playing the game to juggle the cops so I had someone always working on the cases.
The major new addition to This is the Police 2 has to be the XCOM-style combat sections. Every couple of days, you’ll get an even like a hostage situation, a bank robbery, or a drug takedown, which is presented as a Brown event pop-up with no time limit. This means you could literally send everyone out to it at 00:59 am if you wish and they would still take it on. This plays out like XCOM – you send in a bunch of cops who have their own movement and action points. you can move and perform an action if you only move a certain amount, or you can run and move further with the expense of having no action that turn – just like XCOM. The objectives of these are usually the same but they can vary. I’ve had ones which were to just take out the criminals but I’ve also had ones where you have to take them out without being seen – if you’ve seen then they will radio it in and the hostages will die, which ends in a ‘failed’ status.
I really enjoyed these segments as it breaks away from the Visual novel (which I’ll come to) and the 911 segments. However, they are a bit too brutal and unforgiving. For example, I’ll put a video down below (which can’t go live until 31st July at 4 PM), in some of the events, just a single wrong move (which can’t be undone) can result in the criminals being alerted and killing the hostages. For me, this means a 40-minute battle – which had been super successful – resulted in a failure and I had to start it all over again. Also, just to bear in mind, that was already my third attempt at the mission as you can retry them upon defeat. Overall though, well implemented and a nice distraction – one small gripe – the women and men all look the same – I don’t expect the women to be wearing bikinis or have their boobs out, but they do look very similar. A bit of character customisation would be nice so you can see at a glance who everyone is.
Another nice touch is the option to gain intel on the situation by bribing the witnesses – yeah, whatever happened to good honest police work! You can take up to three items from your inventory to the scene of the crime and bribe the locals, if you have the right items, to gain info on where the enemies are, how to get in unseen, or just general information on how many people they saw.
Police: A Novel
As each day draws to an end and another begins, This is the Police 2 goes into ‘visual novel’ mode for its cutscenes. Everything is fully voiced and even stars the brilliant Sarah Hamilton, from the Dreamfall Chapters (which I highly recommend). However, there is quite a bit of story along the way. The story will either be a standard cutscene, a comic book style or an interactive one where you get to pick either what questions are being said to the interviewee or what answers they are giving the interviewer.
All of these are very artistic in their approach as they omit details and opt for the simplistic route in terms of visual style. For example, the characters don’t have any facial details unless there is a shadow being cast upon their face and the textures are pretty much a single colour. However, it all comes together and pulls off the design perfectly. Also, because a lot of the cutscenes are presented in a comic book style, the art direction further adds to the overall design and implementation. This style gets two thumbs up from me!
Respect my authority!
One thing I’ve not talked about yet is your squad of the most arrogant, self-centred, annoying, and ignorant people I’ve seen in a game. No wonder the Sherrif has little faith in them to perform their job well! At the end of a day you can pick which officers you wish to come in the following day – they need their rest so you can’t bring someone in day after day as they will end up falling asleep at the wheel and becoming injured, or worse. Once you’ve chosen your squad, the day of their shift will begin with you allocating your stash of weapons and items to the team. You can either do this manually or auto-assign them. This bit can get a little annoying as you can’t equip more during the day so if you only give someone one taser round then that’s all they have until the next day. I have no idea why we can’t re-equip at the station!
The thing I don’t like about the squad, which was present in the previous game and its part of the core mechanic, is how much of a pain in the arse they are to manage! They will occasionally ask for a day off after they’ve begun their shift, or they’ll be sent to sort out an issue on a 911 call and get offered a job elsewhere. If you don’t agree to let them have the time off for certain things then they become disloyal to you and will refuse to attend certain major 911 calls or go on a call with certain other squad members. However, you can drill them on why they want the time off and see if it is a worthy cause or not. One example was a lady who wanted time off as she said she fell over and caused damage – after questioning her I found out she wasn’t injured, she just broke something in her house that she wanted to replace. Obviously, I told her to get to work.
You’ll also ‘level’ up all your squad as you send them out and successfully complete calls. Each member gets ‘points’ which are used to determine who can attend certain calls. For example, you may get a bank robbery that requires at least 1000 ‘points’, so you have to pick enough of your team to attend whose points add up to over 1k. Once each member hits a milestone you also get a skill point. This can be used to increase stats such as stealth, negotiation, strength, and accuracy. These skills are used both in and out of the XCOP mode. In XCOP mode, the skill points turn into new ‘trails’ and ‘abilities’ which are either active or passive and can be equipped on relevant members. In the 911 call mode, these traits allow you to deal with situations better. For example, if you want to sneak up on a woman about to jump off a cliff then you need good stealth, otherwise, you’ll startle her and she’ll fall down.
Corruption in Sharpwood:
I touched briefly on corruption and criminal activity at the beginning, I don’t want to get into it too much as I don’t want to give away the main crux of the story, but This is the Police 2 isn’t easy sailing. As above, the Feds are after you and you’re trying to remain under the radar as much as possible, but that’s not easy when certain people come back into your life and use that as their advantage. One such person is the Sheriff. At the end of each day, you get a number of ‘can tabs’ which are basically points for completing certain things throughout the day. You receive them for successfully attending and resolving 911 calls and a massive amount if you attend an XCOP event and walk away as the victor. However, if you fail the 911 calls or the XCOP parts then the same amount is deducted from your total! You get 25/-25 tabs winning/losing an XCOP segment – so losing isn’t an option here! If you spend three days with your number of tabs being negative, the Sheriff will tell the Feds about you. You can also use the tabs to purchase new gear and staff for your team each day.
Also on your back is a blackmailer who demands 20k a week off you to also block the Feds from finding you. This one is harder as you have to raise money by sending out your cops to ‘help’ the criminals in exchange for money. You can also help the good townsfolk, but they pay a tiny amount and usually steal your staff! I had one guy get told he has to work in the post office or he’s going to be shipped in an air-tight case to Freeburg, and I’ve had a guy fall in love with a cleaner and decide to retire and marry her. It’s very annoying when you’ve just levelled them right up as well! Not to mention the staff themselves start to blackmail you – I’ve got two who demand a certain amount of money each week otherwise they will quit on me. I don’t even like them but you can’t fire them! Maybe in my next XCOP mode, I’ll just get them ‘accidentally’ killed mwahaha!
Graphically, I love the way This is the Police 2 looks. From it’s simple cutscenes to its cute miniature village looking map screen, it all works really well and looks very appealing. It also ran perfectly on my kinda old PC with its GeForce 480GTX graphics card. Each character has their own personality in their dialogue and portraits, it’s just a shame that this doesn’t follow through to the XCOP mode. In XCOP mode, This is the Police 2 also looks great with its very simple design but I feel it’s a little too simple as you can’t see who everyone is at a glance and you can’t even make out if they are male or female. Overall though, I really like it.
Sound-wise, This is the Police 2’s voice acting is perfect – it feels real, the quality is top-notch and I couldn’t have asked for better voice actors. Sound effects and music are spot-on with the soundtrack comprising mainly of subtle and mysterious tunes or a combination of a base track with ambient or triggered sounds on top. I can’t falter the sound design.
This is the Police 2 is such an amazing game. I had so much fun playing it and I can’t wait to pick it up on my PS4 later this year (as that’s my main gaming platform). The management of your team, the calls, the blackmailers, inventory, cash, and XCOP events is all very stressful and intense, but that’s what’s so cool about it! You need to constantly be engaged with everything that’s going on, micromanage your squad, decide if a call sounds real or bogus, and correctly equip your team for the possible XCOP call! Sure, I lost a few times and had to reload previous saves – which are really easy as it autosaves every single day on a calendar so you can just reload whatever day you want – but I took that as a learning curve as I never made the same mistakes twice. Although, the calls you get are random, so you can’t play a day then play it again and expect every call to be identical.
A full [no-commentary] XCOP event:
This is the Police 2 is a great sequel to such an underrated hidden gem from 2016. The developers have taken what they learnt from the original game and improved on everything from the story to the core gameplay mechanics. There is lots of humour mixed in with dark, disturbing events which will have you both laughing out loud and wondering what the hell you’re playing! Sure, there are times I was pulling out my hair in frustration with the unforgiving nature of the XCOP events, but overall I feel the game gives you a fair enough chance to overcome any obstacles thrown at you. That is when This is the Police 2 isn’t hammering you with about five 911 calls at the same time!
Either way, This is the Police 2 is yet another amazing game that will keep you busy for hours as you try to keep your squad and the corrupted happy whilst also keeping the Feds at bay.
**The developer has been constantly updating the game since release – check out the latest patch notes on Steam. There have been a lot of balancing changes and features added since I reviewed the game earlier in the week**
This is the Police 2
- - The 911 calls are hilarious
- - The XCOP (XCOM-style) events are really well done and require a lot of strategy
- - Lots of backstory and exposition for those who didn't play the previous game
- - Great art style
- - Really good voice acting and soundtrack
- - The XCOP events can be a little unforgiving with the hostage missions
- - The initial cutscenes and exposition takes about an hour before you actually start playing the game on your own
- - All the characters look alike in XCOP mode (Just me being picky!)