I don’t browse my Steam recommendations very frequently – much less frequently than I feel I should, given my love of playing games – and had I not left my PC to start Steam up while I made a cup of tea, I probably wouldn’t have given it much of a thought. However, upon returning with a nice warm cuppa in hand, I noticed a simple, yet surprisingly appealing advert for a game called This is the Police. Excluding The Last Time, I haven’t really played a decent cop game for a very long time – maybe even since L.A. Noire – so when I saw the game, it’s fair to say I was more than a little excited to see what it had to offer.
It starts brilliantly, with a short introduction from the grizzled Chief of Police, which showcases the art style for the game, and it is phenomenal. Taking on the classy noire feel and combining it with the current vogue – comic books – the game has a wonderful feel to it and it makes it seem almost as if I was watching a proper movie. Coupled with the fantastic artwork is some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in a game for a very long time. Admittedly, because it is read all in one go, the actors were probably able to stay in character a lot easier, but that doesn’t take away from how good the performance is.
It takes a little while to get into any actual gameplay because of the cut scenes, but when it does, it’s great. The interface is clear and well designed, with plenty of extra options set aside in easily-accessible sections making it very easy to navigate around. You’re given two rotas with cops that have various levels of professionalism – the higher, the better – and when crimes pop up, you have to send a selection of Freetown’s finest to sort any issues out. Each crime that pops up is unique, believable and often quite funny to read. As you progress, more and more things pop up to ruin your day, and ensuring the continued security of the town is a great challenge.
Trying to tell a story in a game is a challenge, especially when your main game mechanic is sending police around the city to keep crime levels low. Both the cut scenes and the game play are impeccably done – they did make up two of my positives after all! It’s just that Weappy Studio didn’t quite get the balance right, and they hit both ends of the spectrum in the game and it’s quite disappointing. At the start there are a lot of cut scenes to sit and watch, but very little gameplay, but towards the middle of the game the opposite happens – a lot of gameplay which is a little too samey and nothing to break it up.
The cut scenes are great to watch and are really intriguing but having to sit through such long movies and not being able to play the game feels like they’re trying to vomit the story all over you and hope it sinks in. When the reverse happened, it was almost worse – you could tell from the start that they had a brilliant story to tell, but they aren’t able to tell it in bite-sized chunks, leaving us with solid chunks of gameplay that, while they’re fun, are a bit samey. Just adding a bit of balance, mixing it up so there’s a short cut scene after a bit of shuffling your cops around would go a long, long way.
This is the Police is a fun game. Great story, great artwork and fantastic voice acting. All these attributes, when combined, make a really engaging game to play. It definitely can get a little dull watching so many cut scenes, especially when all you want to do is play the game, but they are high quality clips that tell a very interesting story. It’s much different to other simulation games, and controlling the police force is a challenge – but a fun one. It’s one that continually evolves as you play, which makes each day different enough to keep players involved and engaged.