Whilst receiving mixed to average reviews, the previous title ‘This is the Police’ was a surprise hit for me. Loving the game more than expected, I spent hours trying to make the wrong go right again. Did I love the sequel as much as the first one? Will I be able to help Sharpwood as best as I can this time around? Let’s find out:
Retirement is not easy for our protagonist Jack Boyd, but he is used to setbacks as he isn’t only one facing failure or displaying dismissive behaviour. Joining him is Lilly Reed, the new sheriff of Sharpwood. Her daily life contains handling criminals, planning police operations and… facing her co-workers.
Sharpwood is a simple / backwater town and so are Lilly’s subordinates. Orders from women don’t go down to well with the men in the police department, making Reeds job even harder than it is in the first place. Desperate to maintain peace inside and outside of the police station, a fresh would-be convict Warren Nash seems to be her only hope. They both get to talk after players have peeked into both of their lives. I’ll leave the rest of the story to the players, as the twists and turns would be a shame to spoil!
Getting to know Jack and Lilly in This Is The Police 2 is rather burdensome. Even though the protagonists are brought to life by terrific voice actors Sarah Hamilton (April Ryan in The Longest Journey) and Jon St. John (The king himself Duke Nukem), the intro goes on for way too long. Many of the scenes accent their struggles, however, a couple of scenes do push the struggle envelope a bit too forcefully.
This doesn’t stop at the intro, though. The story has potential, but sadly, This is the Police 2 turns an interesting aspect of telling a good tale and actually puts too much into it. Players start off as Lilly Reed, then you swap over to Jack Boyd (or Warren Nash for a short time) just to let him take the role as the protagonist.
A Sentence of Sexism
Lilly gets stripped of her role which is animated by colleagues slipping sexist comments towards her, making this transition of main characters so long and laborious. Sometimes it was hard to believe that the same writers worked on This is the Police since storytelling was a strong suit in part 1. The sudden rise of Jack Boyd made me raise my eyebrows as well, given the first impression of what kind of character he became.
Speaking of This is the Police, it had an interesting and quite unique art style that is continued into the current title. If players compare part one with part two, the visual improvements are quite visible and jump right at you. It does not lose its minimalistic theme and does a great job delivering more with less.
Less is the keyword for your police officers too, unfortunately. Once you get through the long cutscenes, players finally get thrown into action. Jack is responsible for answering calls and sending men and women to the scene. To the players’ disadvantage, the police officers can be easily mistaken for a bunch of kindergarten kids.
Not Worth Their Bacon
Once a crime is reported to the police, you will be presented with a screen telling you how much “professionalism” your team needs. This professionalism system works like XP in an RPG and you can take a bit more of an active part to level up your employees.
Sending officers on a mission will earn them experience which can be used to upgrade abilities. Starting from Stealth to Negotiation, you have a lot of attributes that you can max out from zero to three. Sending a policeman or Policewoman with maxed out stealth makes it easier to sneak up behind a suspect and arrest him/her without the unnecessary risk of letting the criminal escape or die.
Not being skilled enough is one possible problem players face in This is the Police 2. Every officer can be quite a burden and nuisance when you want to send him off to duty. One might have lost his loyalty to you, therefore he’s unlikely to obey your orders. The other one might be a diva who does not want to work with less trained officers and the third one does not really show up at all because there is a rock concert in town where he’d rather be than on duty. As I said, I easily mistook these folks as children and felt like a kindergarten teacher instead of their boss with their ridiculous demands.
What Moral High Ground?
Some of their requests made me laugh at first. Stacking these ‘incidents’ up was making me grow colder and bitter against the guys working for me. This is something that isn’t new and was a part of This is the Police before, but I feel like this makes less sense playing as Jack rather than Lilly, and even less after seeing some cutscenes with Jack performing his “policy” in the police station. It just doesn’t add up at times.
Oh, we are not done talking about the morality of officers in This is the Police 2. If you are lucky enough, and officers actually show up to work, the new tactical missions feature will give you something to shake your head at more than once. A high skill set for an officer or the best equipment players can buy is not enough to save the day when said officer is drunk. Unfortunately, I haven’t really seen a significant difference in operations ending in a bloodbath vs criminals in handcuffs and alive.
In a nutshell, turn-based events are a more spiced up version of the average daily criminals you encounter. Your officers have their turn, so do your enemies and so on. The previously mentioned equipment you can assign to your officers in advance can be purchased with ring pulls. Yes, ring pulls is the currency in that game.
This Is a Pain 2
Earning those ring pulls is simple: you just have to end your day solving as many possible crimes as you can. Letting people escape or an officer gets killed will result in you getting paid less. I had major problems with this system because you can get easily trapped in various situations. Those situations easily take you by the hand and lead you into failure. The problem is realising this when it is already too late.
This is the Police 2 has great voice acting, even though a few random characters felt lifeless due to reading verbatim from the script. Sarah Hamilton has her strong moments, but I often had the feeling she is trying to hard to characterize Lilly. It often felt overacted and not natural at all. The sound effects and music are on point, but also trouble me at the same time.
The sound effects are nice but indistinguishable from one another. It doesn’t really matter if you ram a taser into the neck of a criminal or if players actually hit targets. The soundtrack is splendid but as chaotic as my own playlist on my phone. The Jazz theme the first title had got carried over into This is the Police 2 but got an odd addition, Techno. Musical harmony is yet another vice in this titles inconsistencies.
During development, Weappy seemed to lose focus on what worked with the original outing of this now confused franchise. Whilst some areas have improved, chaotic gameplay has taken its hold on This is the Police 2. It is a shame that this game has so many quirks that itch me and leave me somehow puzzled.
Overall Score: 5.8 / 10
I will pick up the game again after the review purely because I have such strong connection with the first title. I will not give up on it just yet, but I have to admit that the enthusiasm and addiction I felt towards This is the Police is not nearly as strong here.
The title has potential and quality is definitely a criterion Weappy takes seriously. Unfortunately, it just wants too much too often. I recommend you trying out the first title and if you love it, to consider picking up the sequel. The new additions are nice, but I would not have missed them either. It would have made the game less overwhelming and hard.
Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC
Price: £26.99 (Switch eShop)
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Weappy Studio
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 25/09/2018 (Switch eShop)
Review copy provided by publisher