The first This is the Police was an exciting launch at the time of its release. While some complaints were leveled against its length, the game told a very interesting and relevantly tragic story dealing with corruption within the police force of the fictional city of Freeburg. While the original is still relevant two years after release, and Weappy Studio has followed it up with This is the Police 2, a direct sequel that deals with similar themes but expands upon gameplay mechanics.
For the most part, This is the Police 2 is a welcome expansion of the series’ formula. While the game still suffers from a feeling of repetitiveness and the new XCOM-style strategy sections have a few noticeable problems, its excellent writing and intriguing narrative kept me engaged through some of the weaker portions of gameplay.
[Editor’s note: Spoilers for This is The Police and the beginning of This is the Police 2 to follow.]
This is the Police 2 initially follows Lilly Reed, the newly appointed female sheriff of Sharpwood, a small and cold but volatile town. The job is initially really hard on her, as she has to deal with the death of a close friend while managing a corrupt and sexist police force. Eventually, the mysterious Warren Nash is arrested and brought to the police station, but he turns out to be Jack Boyd from This is the Police, on the run from the feds after the end of This is the Police.
Jack eventually convinces Lilly to let him help take charge, and players are soon controlling the police force and their decisions via Jack Boyd, who has to continually make the right choices and pay off the right people to make sure he doesn’t get caught. While the story is quite depressing, which may be a turn off to some, the writing and voice acting is really good and add the needed levity to every situation.
While I didn’t also agree with some of the illegal things the game wanted or made me do in Sharpwood, that just added to the moral complexity of the themes This is the Police 2 stores. My primary motivation for doing well each day was seeing more of the plot unfold, whether that be through Lilly and Jack’s rocky relationship or through the investigators doing their best to find Jack when he’s right under their noses.
This is the Police 2 will make you feel uncomfortable, but it’s always in service to the plot, the most engaging aspect of the game. The minimalistic comic book style presentation is even more polished than it was in the first game and helps the title stand out visually from other management or police-focused games on the market.
On a day to day basis, players will have to manage Sharpwood’s police force. Every officer has a star rating and five skills, all of which can be upgraded by sending them on calls and successfully capturing a suspect. Of course, this is never very easy, as players will have to deal with multiple requests at the same time, and may have to decide to ignore a civilian’s plea if you don’t meet the required rating.
Jack also has to send cops to do less savory things to make connections and money, so players will have to balance sending their cops to do morally questionable things to not lose and making them actually do their jobs. Each cop has their own personality as well, and can quickly lose loyalty to you or energy if they are mismanaged.
The game did a good job at giving a feeling of humanity these mostly one-note officers, which made me want to do my best to keep them alive but still loathe them when they came into work drunk, resulting in a car accident that gravely injured them. After equipping officers with the right things and sending them to specific calls, each encounter begins to play out in a choose your own adventure style way that can result in an arrest or a deadly failure depending on the player’s decisions.
This part of This is the Police 2 did feel much more profound than the first, though it did start to get quite repetitive after a while, and even more frustrating when the star ratings becoming unfairly massive for every scenario. As a fan of management games, I had a lot of fun with This is the Police 2 once this portion of the gameplay hit its stride, though the game has no problem punishing you later on if you didn’t hire or manage properly early on but still managed to scrape by.
Other types of scenarios will also pop up on the town map, like the investigation seen above. These offer a welcome change of pace and are very satisfying if you arrest the jail the right perpetrator. In general, This is the Police 2 does a great job at getting you familiar with the layout of Sharpwood on a more personal level, which made me care about the city more so than Freeburg in This is the Police.
This is the Police 2’s most significant new addition by far though are the XCOM style missions, which will pop up every few days alongside investigations and other crimes. After gearing up officers, players show up to these missions and have to carry out an objective, whether that be just to naturalize all of the enemies, save hostages, or stop a bomb from going off. This mechanic does its best to stand out by letting players target limbs and just arrest enemies, but ultimately doesn’t fully deliver.
These missions move incredibly slow due to an initial emphasis on stealth, though the officers usually begin far enough away where you’ll spend quite a few turns just moving them where they need to be to start. You also can’t skip enemy turns, which can bog down the pacing in larger scale battles. These levels can also be ignored, restarted, or retreated from with only a slight penalty at the end of the day, which leaves them feeling tacked on.
If these sections were the entire focus of the game, they probably would’ve been polished a bit more a paced much better. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, resulting in these sections just feeling tacked on and slightly underdeveloped. There is still a bit of fun to be had with these for strategy game fans; there’s just not a great reason to go for This is the Police 2 for its strategy game portions instead of its contemporaries.
As a fan of both genres, I do wish that the strategy game and management elements meshed a bit better together. That being said, neither aspect is outright bad, the management sections are actually much more fleshed out and better than the original, though it doesn’t entirely escape the late game repetitiveness.
Fortunately for This is the Police 2, its writing, world-building, and story are great, and are likely what players will remember most from this experience. While there are a couple of problems when it comes to gameplay pacing, This is the Police 2 manages to tell a relevant and enthralling story that stands out within its genre and as better than the original.