This is the Police
When I’d first heard about This is the Police, I took a look at some of the game’s screen shots and it immediately brought two things to mind: it’s visuals reminded me of 50s and 60s abstract expressionism (the character’s faces are missing from the game’s artistic scenes), and it also reminded me of older text-heavy MicroProse games. Not since I’ve played 1990’s Covert Action or 1988’s Red Storm Rising, have I been intrigued about playing a text-driven game once again.
I had really hoped that This is the Police would be as narrative-heavy as its older predecessors. Belarussian developers Weappy Studio, free from the shackles of the political correctness that has gripped much of the American gaming-sphere (and culture in general), has created a highly entertaining game that should be considered a modern classic, in my opinion.
This is the Police has some similarities with other simulation-type games, but it’s more realistic story content elevates it far above other fare, that tends to concentrate on much more banal subject matter, such as eating, sleeping, making friends, and trying to score with hot dates.
You step into the well-worn shoes of the Police Chief of Freeburg, Officer Jack Boyd. The small city’s man in charge, Mayor Rogers, and Chief Boyd, don’t quite see eye-to-eye (to put it mildly) and the mayor has plans for replacing Boyd with one of his relatives. Chief Boyd is too tired and worn-out to resist the obvious case of nepotism that is unfolding around him. This is mainly due to him getting older, being burned out by his stressful job (there are scenes of him popping prescription pills), and having a cheating wife who has run off with a younger man.
As Boyd’s world begins to crumble around him, the mayor has made it clear to the venerable chief that he only has 180 days to close out his job and retire, that is, if he wants to do so with a still-decent reputation. Therefore, Boyd’s exit strategy is to earn about a half a million dollars in order to retire comfortably, and try to salvage his near flat-lined marriage. Boyd’s second in command, Deputy Francis Kendrick, suddenly reveals that he’s been working with the local mob and could possibly facilitate making his retirement that much smoother and sweeter if he’d throw in his lot with them. Thus begins the main story—about a police chief living on the edge, and you, the player, must choose how he handles certain key situations which may come back to haunt you later on, in the quite lengthy game.
On a more day-to-day level, you’ll oversee two shifts of police officers whose task is to serve and protect the conflicted city of Freeburg. You’ll also get a smaller pool of detectives who can attempt to solve more complex crimes. Through various ancillary departments, such as the city administration and the deputy’s office, you can manage your manpower, treat them to perks such as barbeques and raises, provide advanced training for them, and even hire snitches.
There are some far less savory factors that you can bring to the table through your more underworld-related connections as well, such as having people set-up, or having your employees ignore certain mob-related crimes, while taking a cut of the loot that the crimes yield. This is the Police provides a tremendous amount of freedom with which to play the game. When a crime is being reported to be in progress, you can assign as many (or as few) officers to try and tackle it, or completely ignore it, should you deem it too dangerous (or a false call). For larger conflicts you even have a full-fledged SWAT team at your disposal, and can obtain additional police force assets throughout the game, such as a paddy wagon.
The typical crimes that you’ll encounter are such things as responding to your standard burglaries and fistfights, all the way up to murders and kidnappings. To throw some wildcards in the mix, once in a while you’ll respond to a seemingly serious crime in progress only to discover that it was nothing big. Like the one time when I responded to a call from a little boy who said that he was being severely abused and beaten—only to discover (after sending out an entire contingent of cops to the location) that his parents had simply told him that he couldn’t go out to play until he finished his dinner broccoli. It was nice to see that while This is the Police deals with a lot of heavy subject matter, the developers have injected it with some light-hearted touches from time-to-time in order to make it more realistic than ever.
This is the Police moves at a pretty brisk pace. You can expect to respond to many calls throughout each day, and as officers stay busy their individual personality traits and quirks will begin to emerge. Their most fundamental one is Professionalism, which determines how reliable they generally are. Solving crimes will increase this value, while such things as criminals escaping from a crime scene, or failing a training exam will decrease it. They will also eventually get tired and so you’ll have to keep an eye on their fatigue gauge as well. Some will let you know that they are getting tired, and will even be as blatant as asking for a day or two off so that they can do such important things as finish up a novel or coddle their children. They’ll usually ask, although sometimes they just won’t show up, prompting you to decide whether to keep them on the force or not.
This is the Police’s visuals reminded me of some of the jazz album covers that I’ve seen from the noir period of American history. They are dark and atmospheric and fit the setting perfectly. You can even play jazz and classical albums, in-game, at the beginning of each new day. The game also features all of the relevant sound effects that you’d expect, such as the slamming of cop car doors to the yells of illegal protestors to shots fired. The game really has a unique look and feel which I think is frankly long overdue.
In all, This is the Police is a gritty, text-heavy, simulation game, with strong puzzle aspects, and looking at the total package, I’m flabbergasted why someone hasn’t attempted a game like this in such a long time. Kudos must be given to the developers, Weappy Studio, for not only creating their own unique combination of different gaming genres, but also not shying away from being politically incorrect. They’ve fearlessly taken on subject matter that would make your average Social Justice Warrior experience a DEFCON-4 meltdown or full-blown hissy fit, and do so in an interesting and compelling fashion. I, for one, can’t wait to see what this highly talented development studio comes up with next. But in the meantime, I’ll be hitting the streets of Freeburg and digging into its rich tapestry of fascinating characters and situations.
This is the Police has highly truly atmospheric graphics that are great to google at. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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