There seem to be a few simulator games floating around these days, from Farming Simulator to Euro Truck Simulator. So allow me to introduce Grumpy Old Man Simulator… or as it’s REALLY known This is the Police.
This is the Police is an interesting little indie game coming from little known Weappy Studio and as this is their only credit so far it’s clear to see a lot of love has gone into it! Most easily described as a strategy game, This is the Police puts in the shoes (Which I imagine are comfortable loafers) of ageing Chief of Police Jack Boyd, a simple man trying to keep law in fictional Freeburg, a city which is apparently more crime ridden than Gotham City before Batman turned up. From the start we’re told that Jack is on his way to retirement after being forced out of office by the irresponsibly corrupt mayor. You have 180 days before your job is gone so you’d best use that time wisely to ensure the city is safe from criminals and accidents! Or you can just indulge every rapscallion who offers you a little money to do whatever they please in your city and sit back safe in the knowledge that in 6 months it won’t be your problem anyway!
The story is very deep and twisting with a focus on political intrigue that keeps you guessing as your actions influence the cities future. I personally found the story a little overwhelming at times with new characters and plot twists being thrown at you every few minutes it can be hard to keep track! Jack as a leading man is intentionally played as a flawed man with several vices and a jaded outlook on life that comes with years of putting away bad guys in a city that just doesn’t want to be fixed. Ringing any bells? That’s probably because Jack is the same Chief of Police we’ve seen in every form of media ever since the early 80’s. It’s a simple and well-known formula but nothing exciting or surprising.
Artistically This is the Police is incredible. While only using a simple art style and little to know actual animation I still felt immersed in the city and its environments. This does a lot to prove that less really is more as you use your own imagination to fill in the gaps and movement. Normally I’m not the sort of gamer to get all gooey over art styles but something about this game really got to me and I found myself more drawn in than some games I’ve played that run on the Unreal engine or similar.
Tying in nicely with the art style is the music. During cut scenes music is almost entirely absent leaving you to focus more on the story and the characters. However, during gameplay you get to choose. Jack starts each working day picking from a selection of vinyls ranging from smooth jazz to classical to set the tone for your day with the chosen track playing all throughout your day. You’ll soon learn your favorites as I ended up constantly picking the same sweet jazz saxophone tunes as background music while my Jack made a considerable number of stupid mistakes.
The simplicity of the art and music matches up with the gameplay or lack thereof… As Jack you watch over Freeburg quite literally in the form of a model with the barebones of detail. As crimes are reported you send an appropriate number of officers to deal with whatever situations arise. While smaller crimes like public indecency and assault only need 1 or 2 officers you’ll find that more series offences will need several more boys in blue. Staff management is a vital part of your job and you’ll need to keep an eye on your officers fatigue levels and performance and each has their own personality traits and issues. I for one chose to keep on a team of alcoholics because I’m a firm believer in a fun Christmas party though I was ruthless when it came to failure, any officer who failed an assignment more than 3 times was immediately fired and replaced.
This play style didn’t serve me well as my team of assorted drunkards continuously let vagabonds get away and civilians were dying left right and center. I’d have felt more guilty but I was trying to achieve the secondary goal of Jack which is to make money for a comfortable retirement. He sets and early goal of $500,000 which seems doable but as time goes on you realize just how fantastically corrupt you’ll have to become to make that sum on only 6 short months. This is where the game falls flat… early on you feel like a moral choice is being presented when you’re given the choice to refuse working for the mafia. I soon learned that NOT working for baddies leads to a very early and final ending to the game…
So even trying to be good means you have to play the scumbag now and then. While I’ve been praising the simplicity of the game so far it does hurt the experience in a few ways most important being the repetitive nature. Each day starts to feel the same as the last and you’ll soon get tired of the daily grind sending your officers to deal with crimes the same way day in day out and soon predicting the results. Though it’s easy to pick up the basics the game seems to revel in throwing new game mechanics and rules at you whenever it feels like it with hardly any warning. It soon becomes overwhelming and you’ll begin to lose track of exactly what you were doing in the first place and with that you’ll just stop caring about the storyline which itself is a meandering whale of a thing that requires a huge amount of focus to comprehend.
So, while This is the Police is a clever and beautiful game it doesn’t have much else to keep your interest for more than a couple of hours at most. I found that by day 30 I’d seen most of what the gameplay had to offer and by then I’d lost most of my interest in the storyline. While Jack is a well rounded and realistic character (and incredibly well preformed by Jon St. John) he’s just not particularly likable and honestly when I was killed by the mafia for trying to be a good cop I was glad my time was over and I could go on another game for a while. It’s better played the same way you watch an interesting drama. Take it hour by hour play a couple of days and turn off then when you come back you’ll be able to forget about how bored you got first time around and get back into the story like a new episode. Not a bad game at all but definitely not something for a casual gamer or someone who wants an endless sea of excitement like myself.
This is the Police gets a 6 / 10 from me.