The first This is the Police wouldn’t have come about had its Kickstarter campaign not been a success, and that would’ve been a shame. Two years late we’ve got the sequel, appropriately named This is the Police 2, picking up right where the first left off with similar resource managing and continuing the story of Jack Boyd (voiced by Jon St. John, infamous for voicing Duke Nukem), a police chief facing early retirement. He’s been the police chief of his town Freeburg for many years, but circumstances have forced him to go into hiding in the small, sleepy town of Sharpwood. It’s here that he once again finds himself in the middle of the drama of managing officers to deal with its crime problem while acting as advisor to the newly appointed head Sheriff, Lily Reed.
Jack Boyd does his best to lay low in Sharpwood while being wary of anyone who happens to come knocking at his door, toilet salesman or otherwise. A police raid for drugs has him in the slammer and he comes to meet Sheriff Reed, who’s facing her own of challenges as the new head of her department. She can’t gain the respect of the other officers and asks Jack for his help. Once again, Mr. Boyd finds himself managing officers and going back what he knows how to do best: being a police officer.
This sequel builds off the winning formula of its predecessor, improving elements that help the game flow more easily while fighting crime. There’s a stronger emphasis on managing resources as you’ll send cops out to answer calls while keeping others back in case of emergencies. The higher the professionalism score an officer has, the better they are at handling a call successfully. One addition here are the professionalism scores set for each call, meaning if your current officers don’t meet the requirements, they can’t answer it. Your only options are to wait until your current officers return from a previous call or skip it. Jack does add in his input to tell his officers how to handle situations which can either turn violent or end peacefully depending on the officers he sent.
Another addition introduced is as officers improve their score their skills can be upgraded like stealth, negotiation, intelligence, etc. These will be a great benefit later on since an officer with higher intelligence for example will be able to piece together the pieces of a murder to reconstruct the events faster than another one. At the end of each shift you get currency in the form of beer tabs and the amount of offenders you bring in will affect how many you gett. If calls are ignored, civilian dies, or a cop is killed in action beer tabs are subtracted; these tabs can be spent on getting equipment and hiring officers to make it easier to answer calls during a busy shift.
The biggest addition to the formula are the tactical missions that occasionally pop up. This is where several officers will need to be coordinated to take out offenders either through a full-scale shootout, arrests, or a combination of the two. I found the turn based combat to be hit and miss, though to be fair strategy has never been my strong point. So I kept throwing my weight around until I magically won. The only benefits of winning by arresting the offenders instead shooting them is the danger you put your officers in. Once an officer dies, that’s it – the cop is down until they can be replaced with another one. Arresting the offenders and using cover effectively is the best way to win these tactical missions since you’ll take less of a risk.
Officers will sometimes act on their own tactical missions and refuse to go on a call with certain other officers. During a mission one might decide that storming in to shoot an offender instead of hiding in cover is the smarter choice since they don’t respect their commanding officer. I did like the officers being given their own personality quirks and preferences, with another one refusing to take violent action against offenders because they felt it wasn’t right. I didn’t encounter this often, though the most noteworthy being one female officer who’d refuse to answer calls unless she was with another female officer.
There weren’t many changes made in terms of art style compared to the original game. There are moving cutscenes now alongside the comic book-style presentation which provides a nice blend of different media. Character faces don’t have much in the way of defined features, beyond a mouth moving and a shadow where the eyes would be. I’m no Picasso, but I like what I see and it gets the job done.
Did I mention the voice acting is also phenomenal? I appreciate Jack Boyd’s rough and gravelly voice when he’s talking, his tone perfectly reflecting that of a man who’s seen and done just about everything in his mission to keep the town safe. The only voice I didn’t like was Lily Reed because she felt too high strung and left me frustrated whenever she would yell and start to nag the other officers like she was their mother. To be fair, the way she sounds can be explained by the stress of her job and not having the respect of her fellow officers.
This is the Police 2 can be hit-or-miss at times, but there’s nothing else quite like it. It’s given me an interest in how real life cops respond to calls and the different strategies they use to handle similar situations in their own cities, and the small stories that play out are a real highlight as the improvements make each decision carry its own weight. Chances of failure are high, but when you’re able to make an arrest with no officers or civilians injured it’s very satisfying. I wish I could’ve skipped tactical missions sometimes, but nearly everything else connects so flawlessly it’s hard not to hit that “Play” button to punch in for another shift.