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XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Martin Kitts

Games tend to front-load their best con­tent, all the bet­ter to grab the at­ten­tion of a fickle au­di­ence, but here we have a law unto it­self. Like in­com­pe­tent cops bat­ter­ing down the wrong door, This Is The Po­lice 2 makes a truly dis­as­trous first im­pres­sion.

It must be the best part of an hour be­fore you get to do any­thing much ex­cept tap a but­ton ev­ery few min­utes; an hour mostly spent watch­ing a slideshow while ac­tors read crush­ingly dull di­a­logue. It just goes on and on and on, punc­tu­ated by empty frames where you lis­ten to some­body walk­ing slowly across a silent room. It’s bizarre.

Get past this botched au­di­tion for your leisure time and you’ll find the game proper is of­ten quite funny and ac­tu­ally in­ter­ac­tive. As a po­lice sta­tion man­ager, it’s your job to dis­patch of­fi­cers to deal with crimes as they’re re­ported, hus­band­ing your re­sources to en­sure that mi­nor in­ci­dents and false alarms don’t leave you short­handed when some­thing se­ri­ous hap­pens. The screen you’ll be look­ing at most of the time is a model town with toy cars mark­ing the of­fi­cers’ lo­ca­tions, and when they ar­rive at an in­ci­dent it’s all done via text, with a choice of three op­tions. Each of­fi­cer has dif­fer­ent skills and equip­ment, so if the choices in­clude chas­ing a sus­pect or us­ing a taser, and your first re­spon­der is slow and only car­ry­ing a gun, you won’t get a suc­cess­ful out­come. But if there’s an op­tion to defuse the sit­u­a­tion with wit, and the of­fi­cer has high ne­go­ti­a­tion skills, there’s your so­lu­tion.

Work­ing around each cop’s per­son­al­ity flaws is part of the fun. Some won’t go out with­out backup, while oth­ers won’t ac­cept cer­tain cops as part­ners. One of the men re­fuses to work with women, and there are sev­eral who will only fol­low or­ders if they feel like it. Some will turn up drunk, or just won’t bother com­ing in at all. At the end of each day you have to pick the staff for the next day’s shift, and if you over­work the few good cops on the ros­ter they’ll lose re­spect and go as bad as the rest.

Knives out

Turn-based strat­egy scenes crop up in­fre­quently, be­ing high-risk/high­re­ward mis­sions where the day-to­day busi­ness of solv­ing neigh­bourly dis­putes is re­placed by hide­outs full of gang­sters. Creep­ing around and stab­bing ev­ery sus­pect in the back seems to be as ef­fec­tive as ar­rest­ing them, and it cer­tainly doesn’t have the depth of an XCOM, but these parts are a wel­come di­ver­sion.

Else­where, there are de­tec­tive cases you must solve by as­sign­ing of­fi­cers to in­ves­ti­gate, which ba­si­cally means un­lock­ing pic­tures for you to ar­range in se­quence. These can take a while, oc­cu­py­ing re­sources for sev­eral shifts. There are also mul­ti­ple-choice in­ter­ro­ga­tions that don’t re­ally amount to much, plus story scenes book­end­ing each day, which never get any more ex­cit­ing than that tor­tu­ous in­tro but are, mer­ci­fully, much shorter.

The game is a bit of a dis­jointed mix, only half of which is re­ally suc­cess­ful. Fans of the orig­i­nal might have been bet­ter served with just the sta­tion man­age­ment and a lot more of the strat­egy scenes, and since the cops you meet in the story aren’t on the ros­ter, pre­sum­ably so they don’t get killed, the low-bud­get Fargo- lite plot seems largely un­con­nected with the game­play. When it’s fo­cused on be­ing noth­ing but Sim City’s ul­tra vi­o­lent po­lice force, it’s not at all bad.

“About half of the game is re­ally suc­cess­ful”

be­low The cops who don’t wear hats don’t re­spect you and may not fol­low your or­ders.

left If XCOM in­volved po­lice­men stab­bing sus­pects in the back, it would look like this.

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