This game isn’t a ‘feel good’ episode of COPS. It’s not an action packed walk in the shoes of a hardboiled Max Payne, nor is it the humor of Lethal Weapon’s Riggs and Murtaugh. This Is The Police, and this is our “This Is The Police” review.
This Is The Police is a drama about a pill addled, booze hound of a police chief named Jack Boyd. A relic of yesteryear, Boyd’s day in and day out is just focused on getting ever closer to retirement. But the cold heart of the city of Freeburg has different plans, as the department finds itselfed wrapped up in a massive scandal that shakes the populace to the core with news headlines abound, and Boyd caught right in the middle of it.
Time Is Money
At this stage in his career, Boyd has one thing on his mind; a sweet payout of over $500,000 to retire on. His plans of an easy-retirement are put in jeaprody nearly overnight as it seems like the world turns inward on him. Not just from the law itself, but from the entities of the criminal underworld. Drug dealers, random thugs, the mob, everyone has a benefit to Jack Boyd’s departure. But, there’s also some who would benefit more from him being able to survive his final 180 days in the big seat at the precinct than a forced early retirement.
The game itself is more of an interactive graphic novel than a game on one hand (more on that shortly), while the other is similar to the recently released 911 Call Operator, where you will dispatch groups of officers to situations throughout the city as the need arises. Where it differs from the aforementioned game is once the officers have arrived, it can play out business-as-usual, or the situation can take a turn in which you need to make an on-the-fly choice between a set of options. These moments are when the dispatching aspects of the game get to shine, but at the same time also a space where it stumbles. In the chaos, there’s often no good outcome to the choices and while that may be a dark reflection of the tone the game is aiming for, it does sometimes make your efforts seem pointless.
The Brooding Chief
I found more enjoyment in the interactive cutscenes of Jack Boyd (portrayed by legendary Voice Actor Jon St. John, the heart and soul of Duke Nukem) than I did in the dispatching portions. Guiding Boyd through various encounters with the press, criminal elements, manuevering through various investigations, and all the while just trying to keep the Chief’s head above water.
Jack’s life is spiraling out of control quicker than he can get a handle on it, but you wouldn’t know that with the acting of St. John. The man makes it sound like the aging officer is just dealing with a case of ‘Same **** Different Day’. Choices are a key factor in Boyd’s actions as well, but similar to the dispatch section there’s also frequent snags. I get that the developers really want the odds stacked against Boyd and the department, but there were several times I just felt outright cheated by the outcomes. That being said, the story was still rich, dark, and with art taking a minimal approach along with some back room jazz it felt reminiscient of prominent noir dramas often buried in the past.
Worn Out Badge
This Is The Police isn’t a game for everyone. Straddling a line between a strategy game and an interactive story, some may think it boring. There are also moments of racially charged tones that while some may find offensive, I think it’s fair to note. For those looking for a police game a buried a bit in the darker side of law enforcement fiction, it’d be easy to suggest at least giving it a shot when it’s on sale.