STAFF REVIEW of This Is the Police (Xbox One)

Friday, April 28, 2017.
by Cole Jackson

This Is the Police Box art I've played a lot of simulation games. I've run towers, cities, and lives. I've even simulated off world colonies and prisons. But I've never run a police force before. Well, not until I played This is the Police.

This is the Police is a police management simulation game. Yes, you heard me right, you manage a police force. I believe it is the first of its kind. You take the role of Jack Boyd, an aging police chief who who has just been told that he is being forced to retire in 180 days. Who knew policeman would have to be forced to retire eh?

Jack's goal is to leave the force with a cool half a million dollars so he can live out his days in peace, or at least in some level of comfort befitting someone who has been in the public's eye for so long. This is where the story of the game really takes off. Between simulation moments you live Jack's life and see how the city of Freeburg is run. You make decisions that are supposed to affect the game, and in essence they will effect if Jack will get to his eventual goal.

The story of This is the Police is a lot like watching an old noir film. It takes a lot of tropes from old police movies and churns out a story rife with corruption, greed, and crime. Jack is a cop on the straight and narrow, working against the criminals in the town, but once the game begins you get to decide what he does.

The story is a really strong point of this game. The characters are interesting and the decision making is tough. One issue I had is I found the actual decisions didn't seem to have lasting consequences. For example, I chose not to join the mafia, and later found I had to anyway. Early in the game I was told to fire all the black cops on the force or a racial supremacist group would take action against us, so I did. That should have had consequences, but in the game nobody seemed to care.

The story is told through little comic-like panels with voice over. It splits up the gameplay nicely and really gives you a reason to keep going.

The majority of the gameplay takes place in your day-to-day management of the police force. From scheduling the two shifts of cops, to sending cops on calls, to even allowing your officers the day off or not. My favourite part of the simulation is when you get to investigate crimes. You assign some detectives to the case who gather witness reports and then give you photos of what may have happened. You then have to piece the photos together to get the whole story. This can sometimes take several in-game days to decipher.

As you play through the virtual days you choose to send cops on calls. If you send the correct amount of experienced cops you are successful on the call and gain points. If you do not send enough cops, or they are too inexperienced, you will be unsuccessful and the suspect will escape. On the other hand, if you send too many cops out at once you won't have any available cops to tend to any new calls that come up. It is really fun to balance necessity of sending cops with keeping some around for upcoming issues.

You also get to make decisions sometimes in different situations. Unfortunately, and again, the decisions don't seem to have lasting consequences and often times the right ones are incredibly obvious in terms of which ones to pick. I wish the game would make it harder or more morally ambiguous how to handle situations and make your choices have longer lasting effects.

In between each day of police simulation you return to Jack's story as he lives out his last 180 days on the force and tries to amass his $500k for retirement.

Overall the game can tend to get repetitive after a while, but when looking at the sum of all its parts it acutally is incredibly fun, something I didn't expect. The story points break up the simulation parts, and honestly the police sim is really well done and it is a lot of fun to run your own police department. This is the Police is a very enjoyable title, and one that that is worth playing for anyone who enjoys simulation games or noir police stories.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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