Welcome to Freeburg – home to the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. As gritty Police Chief Jack Boyd (portrayed by Jon St. John, the voice of Duke Nukem) you find yourself counting down the days, 180 to be exact, before your retirement officially begins. In these 180 days, you must keep your nose clean and earn enough cash for your little pot, $500,000 should be enough! To earn the money for your retirement pot you must decide whether you’re going to go down in the history books as the best Police Chief Freeburg has had, or whether you want to go down in flames and drag the criminal underbelly of the city with you.
This Is The Police plays out as a real-time strategy game with elements of simulation. This is all wrapped within an intriguing narrative which you can play the way you want. At particular intervals in the game, you are given the opportunity to either picks sides (good or bad) or choose what to say. There aren’t an abundance of choices to be made, but just enough to make you feel as though you’re tweaking the course of the story.
You control two shifts at the station, A and B, and each day you are tasked with dispatching your officers to reported emergencies and investigators to crime scenes. Your staff all have different levels which equate to how competent they are at their jobs, a high-level officer will do a better job than a low-level officer. Successfully completed jobs are rewarded with 5 – 10 points per officer that you use, but failing will have the reverse effect and this will seriously impact on future jobs and how your team handles certain callouts. Likewise, investigators will do better and achieve more with a higher rank.
Like real humans, each of your staff members has an energy bar. One bar is used per shift, request a particular member of staff to come back the next day and their energy won’t have time to replenish. Continue using tired officers and investigators and you’ll see more offenders escape, more civilians get hurt and you could even witness the killing of another member of the force. You don’t want that.
As Police Chief, you are able to reward your shifts with badge upgrades. These upgrades let particular members of staff know that they’re doing a good job and in return, this could help them with their job when they’re dispatched to an emergency. A nice little twist is that you can change the music which is played in the background via turntable before each day is played out – there’s something funky from the start and additional tracks can be unlocked as you play. Gotta love that vinyl!
Emergencies and crimes range from false calls to murder, each day differs from the next. Days usually last between 5 – 10 minutes and can be either hectic or fairly relaxed. Choosing who you send to each of these scenes is crucial, especially when multiple crimes are reported at once and your staff has already been allocated elsewhere. You have to think about who you are sending, why, and who else you have available on your shift to cover in case of other emergencies. You don’t want to send all of your best out together, leaving the troubled behind – that could be a recipe for disaster.
The aim of the game is to get through to retirement whilst making as little enemies as possible and – of course – try to make a little cash on the side to ensure that your retirement is a good one.
Overall the game runs smoothly, plays well and the replay value is high – especially as you can make so many decisions through each of your playthroughs to see if any alterations could have made your life better or a living hell. Thankfully the cutscenes are skippable, so once you start up your second or even third playthrough you can skip any nonsense you don’t wish to here once more. A delight of a game which pushes your buttons and tests your patience.