This is the Po­lice 2

FREE GAMES

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Tom Hat­field

It feels like the game is ask­ing you to spin too many plates at once

In This is the Po­lice, Jack Boyd spent his last days as Free­burg po­lice chief in a frenzy of cor­rup­tion, try­ing his best to keep the city clean while also work­ing with the lo­cal mafia and col­lect­ing as many kick­backs as he could. In an all-too-re­al­is­tic move, the se­quel sees him evade jus­tice and slip into a brand-new job ad­vis­ing the sher­iff of a small town’s po­lice force. Which, it turns out, is not an easy re­tire­ment at all.

In the­ory, this is a strong setup for a story. The snowy town of Sharp­wood has a Fargo-es­que vibe that serves as a nice change of pace from the big city of Free­burg. In prac­tice, how­ever, the game has a pen­chant for ram­bling Tarantino-like di­a­logue that goes on far, far too long. Ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion feels full of fat that can be cut, like an early scene in which Boyd and a door-to-door sales­man have an ex­tremely long­winded chat about toi­lets that may or may not be a veiled threat. It’s a cry­ing shame, be­cause the voice ac­tors are do­ing a ter­rific job, but I found my­self tun­ing out long be­fore they got to the point.

At first the story feels like it’s go­ing to be about Sher­iff Reed’s strug­gles with in­sti­tu­tional sex­ism, as she’s con­stantly re­ceiv­ing misog­y­nis­tic com­ments. But when Boyd ar­rives he takes over both as leader and as pro­tag­o­nist, and the fo­cus shifts to­wards him and his web of cor­rup­tion. Even­tu­ally the sex­ist com­ments feel less like com­men­tary and more like win­dow dress­ing.

If it seems like I’m front­load­ing on the story here, that’s be­cause the game does, too. Al­most ev­ery day starts with one long cutscene, be­fore let­ting you get to the game map. This is where you’ll spend most of your time, dis­patch­ing of­fi­cers to calls as they come in. There’s a pleas­ing rhythm to it, try­ing to send just enough of­fi­cers to deal with each in­ci­dent while keep­ing some in re­serve for an emer­gency. When a cop gets to their des­ti­na­tion there’s a lit­tle choose your-own-ad­ven­ture mo­ment, where you can use their skills and equip­ment to ar­rest a sus­pect or calm down a sit­u­a­tion.

The big show­piece ad­di­tion for this se­quel is tac­ti­cal mis­sions; full-scale SWAT as­saults where mul­ti­ple of­fi­cers par­tic­i­pate in an XCOM- style com­bat. There’s novelty in just how many non­lethal op­tions the game presents you with, giv­ing you am­ple chance to cap­ture en­e­mies rather than killing them. Ex­cept I saw lit­tle feed­back on that choice—a blood­bath was treated the same as a per­fect run. The main case for avoid­ing a gun­fight is they of­ten re­sult in dead of­fi­cers. The new sys­tem sits awk­wardly along­side the main game, with small town crimes punc­tu­ated by a bomb threat or hostage sit­u­a­tion ev­ery few days, like if ev­ery third episode of The Wire was sud­denly 24.

Later on, as cor­rup­tion be­comes a stronger theme, the ne­ces­sity to earn cash by send­ing of­fi­cers to moon­light be­comes more im­por­tant. There’s even a sys­tem for buy­ing and sell­ing goods to try and turn a profit. If this seems over­stuffed, it is. At times it feels like the game is ask­ing you to spin too many plates at once.

Banged Up

You see, This is the Po­lice 2 is hard. The var­i­ous sys­tems make it easy to en­ter a fail spi­ral. If you don’t have enough cops you can’t re­spond to crimes, and if you can’t re­spond to crimes you can’t earn ring­pulls (in­ex­pli­ca­bly the depart­ment’s main cur­rency) for new cops, which means you can’t re­spond to crimes, and if you don’t earn ring­pulls for three days run­ning, it’s game over. It’s also game over if you can’t pay off the guy who is black­mail­ing you, which means you need to be rack­ing up the cor­rup­tion money even as you’re des­per­ately try­ing to keep Sharp­wood free of crime. In fact, I have to con­fess that this re­view comes with the caveat that I haven’t seen the end of the game, be­cause I’m not good enough to get there. And this is com­ing from a guy who thought XCOM 2 wasn’t that hard.

I haven’t played the first This is the Po­lice, but I can’t help but feel like the se­quel sim­ply adds too much. The game feels like it needs to re­fo­cus on the day-to-day polic­ing and the small sto­rylets that ac­com­pany it, which are great. Un­less the mes­sage is that run­ning a po­lice depart­ment is an im­pos­si­ble task, in which case: Mis­sion ac­com­plished.

ver­dict

The core con­cept of This is the Po­lice 2 is solid enough, but there’s sim­ply too much bloat to en­joy it.

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