Freeze! Put your hands on the keyboard! That’s it, nice and slow. What? No, I won’t show you my badge. I’m a certified law officer, I’ve played several hours of police management sim This Is The Police. And you know wh-- hands on the keyboard please, sir – you know what else? A sequel is coming out. This Is The Police 2 is due for release "later this year", say the developers. It’s set in a cold, northern border town and puts you in the role of a new sheriff called Lilly Reed. Here’s a trailer setting up some of the characters and, uh, the tone?
Well, that fellow seems intense. Although it may be in keeping with the developer’s description, which says that the sheriff’s underlings are “uncouth men who aren’t used to receiving commands from a young woman”. That sorry old drunk is also set to be an important character, a “mysterious stranger” who turns up in the town of Sharpwood with unknown motives.
Just like the first game, This Is the Police 2 is a mixture of adventure and management genres, and this time it enjoys further unexpected mechanics that will strengthen both the strategic and tactical parts of the game. It won’t be enough just managing the equipment of your policemen and keeping in mind their individual skills. Every challenge requires the player’s direct participation, and the outcomes will depend on every decision you make. Now your subordinates aren’t just some resource; they are living people with their own strengths, weaknesses, fears and prejudices, and you'll have to reckon with all these things in order to survive.
The first game was iffy (as I wrote about it in this impressions piece). Parts of the neo-noir dialogue had me smiling, the artwork is sharp and clean, and the idea is strong. But much of the day-to-day work of police chief (which included countless scenes of breakfast and getting in the car) was tedious. The story also forced you down a certain path – that of a corrupt cop – which clashed with the clicky management screens suggesting choice and freedom. It also danced around the issues of police brutality, corruption and discrimination in a characteristically videogame way – depicting all of these things as reality while simultaneously making no concrete political observations about any of it.
But it did have its moments. You were always stretched for resources and often had to make decisions – to let art vandals off the hook so you can check out a possible robbery, or to hire out your officers to a company for the evening so they’ll donate some cash to the station. You answer questions in a press conference, and the next day's newspaper echoes your comments back to you. It’d be good if the sequel can build on those strengths.
Oh, sorry. I was being a policeman, wasn't I. Right, off you go. Fix your 'Page down' key. Bye.