Developed By: Weappy Studio
Published By: THQ Nordiq
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Reviewed On: PS4
There’s a new Sheriff in Town
This is the Police 2 welcomes you to Sharpwood, a shady cold town where criminals, drugs, prostitutes, and problematic police officers are at large. You play as Jack Boyd an ex-sheriff and a bent cop caught and requested to aid the failing police force, as Sharpwood is downright rotten and requires straightening out with “unconventional means”. While helping out as a sheriff though, the feds have placed him under bounty due to Jack’s previous actions in the first game as Sheriff in Freeburg.
How does he manage and maintain incognito status at the same time? That’s where you as a player comes in. Note that this is my first of the series. So here we go:
Based on the trailer above, you may have an impression that its a visual novel with some X-com elements with added crime investigations via evidence, call on-call assistance to 911, as well as a simulator in time management with situations that affects life and death? The answer is yes, it is all of the above. It’s a big mash of gameplay genre elements including some gambling.
It can be a very challenging management game but think of it as a big board-game whereby you clock in your shift from 7 AM all the way to 1 AM, with incoming calls which have to be answered quickly, read card contents to assess the situation and appoint the right police officers for the task at hand. If you are worried the game might be repetitive, not to worry as each and every day is a totally different random event happening. It might look simple but you will also be managing the officers’ stamina (age factor does play a part as well) when handing them tasks. Older officers will use up stamina faster than young adults, and if not managed well; there is a high chance of accidents due to exhaustion.
The officers you chose have diff attributes from strength, speed, shooting, intelligence, and negotiation with each being able to be maxed at 3 with different perks learned. This is because certain crimes require certain attributes of an officer so that it can be solved like a “stolen runaway car” requires good shooting skills to bust out tires or a fast running officer to catch a thief on the run. However if it happens that you do not have such officers available, the officers you do have may resort to using other means to apprehend by using types of equipment such as batons or tasers depending on the situation.
Be warned! You will reset the game ALOT because certain things like a lack of officers or a sudden death of occurring without preliminary warnings will just happen. Also, it is important to note that you can only assign equipment at the start of the day. You are not allowed to change it midway during the day so if you forgot you are screwed. As your officers complete tasks, they will be awarded points and at a certain level of points, you get to choose which attributes to upgrade at your own discretion.
Completing tasks will also earn you a number of Bar Tabs per day. Bar tabs are like “police currency” that you will earn depending on your performance throughout the day. These Bar Tabs can be used to purchase new officers and equipment like baton, tasers or pepper spray. Not to mention as the day goes by, the pace will pick itself up dramatically fast and there will be more demanding calls or cases adding up to more challenges involving mafia threats to tell the feds on you if you do not pay up $2,000 USD per week or maintain a Bar Tab within 3 days. Failure to maintain that will result in a game over. But how to gain money or tabs is completely up to you.
Major Operations at it’s best but…
Certain days will trigger major operations which have a major impact on society such as bomb threats, hostile takeovers or a hostage situation. Choosing not to do so is optional but will result in a loss of Bar Tabs in bulk.
This is where the turn-based X-com combat elements come into play where you assemble officers to raid and foil the criminals’ plans. Depending on your set up, you may have officers with high interrogation skills to delay the bomb timers, high sneaking to pounce on unsuspecting criminals or guns blazing with higher shooting skills. Note that although you can aim your gun anywhere to shoot like hands to disarm or legs but bear in mind that your officers have no life or hit points. If they get shot even once, that is goodnight for Officer Malone.
Another side that you will be dealing with…
In the midst of all that, you are also managing other officers in solving crimes with 2 different suspects. It is your job to read, gather and place evidence in an orderly fashion to indict the suspect of your choice. The final verdict of the case held by the court will either result in praise for you for accurate reading work or bites you in the back and brings down your reputation at a later date.
This is where you will either hate the game or love it, I cannot emphasize how reading heavy this game is. All situations, emotions and crime are based on text alone.
Your officers at times will die at the hand of another
Certain times, an officer would ask for your choices which may lead him to his/her death later. But there was no option to do an internal investigation in this part because you know it is one of your officers who did it. Which is quite a big move and yet it is just completely wasted because nothing ever comes from it.
The game is going for a cell shaded comic book style which although is unique but is lacking facial features drawn on the characters. Relying heavily on great voice acting, body movement language, clothes and hair design to define who is actually talking. Although it may be aesthetically pleasing to a certain degree, the colour palettes are pretty bland, safe or too white as snow. There are no striking colour elements to differentiate for the player and in the cinematics at least my eyes were all over the place due to lack of focal point. The map itself which looks like a pop-up book or like the Game of Thrones opening intro is great though.
Other than that, it is just constant grey text or the plain green layout that looks uninteresting which I feel is at odds with the whole core design elements. It really felt like one part of the team, on one hand, is inspired and does this great popping map layout while the others were just going through the motions to finish it up. It may well have been an advancement from the first game, but I would say, still feels lacking. This can be improved upon if the text or other things, for example, were pop up like the map itself, portraying some level of consistency with the general design. All in all, currently it looks more like a mobile game rather than trying to aim higher but that could be due to budgetary reasons.
Your officers’ portraits are filled with facial features but static
Static picture portraits of your officers are there for 2 reasons, one is if the officers were not wearing a hat it is representing how disloyal the officer is to you depending on how you treated them. Another reason is just to see how old or young the officers are to gauge how much stamina they will be using upon each task whereas some task requires a younger officer’s delicate touch to complete the task at hand. I feel that this can be improved further by making the portraits frown, injured or sad rather than a static photo to allow players to gauge further or to add depth into the gameplay, heck you could even place a different coloured background like a sudden redness, orange, yellow or blue to represent different feelings your officer is having, instead of making it seem like a randomized algorithm.
They really wanted to create a Noir based experience by randomly tuning up some jazzy or some trance techno tune, but its always in the same midi monotonous tone. It doesn’t pick up the beat or gets louder if there was a state of emergency, operations or a call is going to end. It is very uninspired.
In High-Risk Operations..
The sound effects oddly feel very disconnecting to the player. An example is if your officer gets shot, it will only sound like a soft thud or card-box hit. It doesn’t deliver the very impact that “This is an emergency” or blood splurging out or even a short scream, and the combat song is really just more of the soft tone mosquito creepy than actually sounding like a real state of urgency. Could have added more sounds like a ticking time bomb that ticks louder every turn, or louder crying hostages as the abductors getting closer. There is no actual good variety of sound design here. Feels again very uninspired.
What I Liked (somewhat)
- Very Challenging, none repetitive situations due to multiple mini-games in between
- Great Voice acting
- Unique Cell Shaded Comic Book art style
- Pop Up map
What I wished was better
- Lack in storytelling- I did not focus on the story entirely but just the voice acting alone with a vivid focus on the storyline, again this could be part of the cinematic issue mentioned above
- Challenges– Not all can take this type of challenges, lack of more options to choose their difficulty instead.
- Reading heavy- again, not all will like this, some may prefer a visual approach and good sound effects
- Randomize Impact events- should have some small indications earlier, not randomized as this not only infuriates players but encourage resets which is not what this game is about in its entirety
- Unique art style but bland colours palettes- uninteresting design menu and grey/plain green visual text. Lack of engaging elements and striking colours like a comic book.
- Static Officer Photos- should have more design elements, emotions, a coloured background to allow more player judgement and gauge of the situation
- None Rotatable camera in high-risk ops, and highlighted enemies in red to allow players to have more visual control on the situation at hand rather than mere frustrations
- Rigid enemy AI while patrolling in High-Risk Operations like human element is none existent here and no chat like an actual comic book
- No inclusion of unjust internal officers death as a special investigation for better side story elements
- Poor Sound Quality– very somewhat midi tone of Noir chill pacing songs and sounds, need to pick up the beat to a state of emergency type of situations.