This Is The Police 2 takes off shortly after the previous game ends, with Jack Boyd (voiced by Jon St. John from Duke Nukem) in a whole heap of trouble.
After getting in too deep with Mafia goons in the first game, Jack ends up essentially hiding in a town called Sharpwood, who’s freshly minted young female Sheriff Lilly Reed (voiced by Sarah Hamilton from The Longest Journey) is struggling to maintain law and order in her own precinct, let alone the entire town of Sharpwood.
Circumstances conspire (I won’t ruin it, it’s one of the more tense scenes in the game) that essentially lead to Jack half-taking up his old moniker and helping Lilly keep her men in line by taking over some of the more gritty, day to day duties of being a Sheriff.
Thus the game begins.
It does take a WHILE to get to this point though…approximately 55 minutes to my count.
Much like the first game This Is The Police 2 is heavy on exposition. Don’t expect to jump right in and start barking orders. The scene has to be set for Jack to take that stage, so in turn we’re treated to a Fargo-esque small town drama to really let it all sink in before taking up the mantle of (kind of) chief again. Haters of slower paced games turn back now, you have been warned.
If you do enjoy a good narrative tale though, especially that of the noir detective variety, you’ll find yourself falling madly in love with the over-arching tension behind the story in This Is The Police 2. I wouldn’t say playing the first game is a necessity, but it would help with your appreciation of the yarn being spun. Especially since some of the earlier moments in the game have you directly commenting on matters from the first in the series. You can easily blag your way through these though and shape the narrative to fit however you see best.
So then…onto the nuts and bolts – the gameplay.
This Is The Police 2 is a mash up of several games – all of them strategy based.
The visual novel elements are simply there to give each day and decision more pertinence. The meat and potatoes comes in the form of an excellent strategy title that has you over seeing everything from the day to day shift selection of officers on your force, the weapons they’ll be carrying, the calls they’ll be dispatched to, what they do whilst on those calls and much, much more.
One of the more interesting (and requested) features of the new entry is the ability to actually play an X-Com-like mini game on more dangerous scenarios. A fully realized and hyper stylized turn-based assault on a vicinity. Your goal is to take down the bad guys, but with all things This Is The Police – shooting them in the face is also an option.
Surprising amounts of detail have gone into these operations, and each one feels like a treat away from the sometimes more mundane day-to-day police work. Your officers that get downed or killed during these missions were supposed to be on your watch, and they were supposed to go to work tomorrow, and now they have funerals that other officers want to attend. If you say no because you’re short staffed – well – they may just respect you a lot less. Cops that don’t respect their chief can be a royal pain in the ass and do anything from nitpicking their partners to just straight up refusing to help you.
The weight of every decision is felt with immediacy in a lot of cases, other times it springs up at the worst possible time. For the majority of the game, every time is the worst possible time.
Alongside dispatching people to 911 calls, and assaulting criminal hide outs, there are also investigations to be had. These will crop up in the weirdest places and once accepted, also need to have officers assigned to work them.
You’ll need to be smart about your selection of officers assigned to each case, if they’re donning the deerstalkers, they’ll need to be smart. they won’t be able to help you with calls for the majority of the day, so the better damn well find some clues.
Like an idiot, i kept putting my least favored folks on the investigations and they kept coming up empty. Leading me spend even more time trying to get to the bottom of things and having even less resources on a daily basis. Don’t skimp on the brains for these, they’ll pay dividends in the long run.
This may all seem like a lot to swallow, that’s because it is.
This Is The Police 2 can appear brutally hard at times. You’ll have good days and bad days, but the really bad ones tend to stick it in and break it off.
You’ll find yourself resenting the idiot that keeps coming in drunk after they miss a shot and kill a civilian, or crash their car and end up hospitalized for days. You’ll find yourself questioning why you didn’t just can them the second they turned up, then you remember that a shitty cop on your force to deal with the less serious situations is more useful than no cop at all. Even if they are a liability.
It’s the micro-management aspects of the title that keep you coming back. This game took everything about the first title that people loved and expanded on it ten fold. Everything is more stylized, the art is unique and gorgeous, the story is drama-filled and action-packed, the decisions are more brutal and heart wrenching than ever – it’s impossible to not start actually favoring some of your officers over others. Which is usually when tragedy sets in.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with This Is The Police 2 and asides from having to sit through mountains of exposition, i can see high replayability value in making a few different calls and setting yourself up for success early. Something as simple as making sure one of your officers has a taser on their person when attending certain scenes can make all the difference.
If you loved the first game, this is a no brainer. If you never played the first game, but like what you’ve read so far – give it a shot – you may be pleasantly surprised.
For further convincing, please take some time to get an idea for how the game works by watching our gameplay video below. I would go ahead and skip the first 55 minutes or so if you’re only interested in core gameplay and don’t want to spoil any story elements.
This Is The Police 2 is available on September 25th for PS4, Xbox One & PC/Mac/Linux.