When I was recently given the chance to become commissioner of the police for 180 days, I jumped at the chance. My disappointment was huge when I learned the offer didn’t entail an actual position within the force. Just a copy of the management sim This Is the Police.
Disappointment quickly fades away though. Almost immediately I’m filled with enthousiasm again due to the upbeat jazzy soundtrack blasting through my television’s speakers. Great, minimalistic drawings tell the rather depressing story of police commissioner Jack Boyd. Soon to entering into (forced) retirement, abandoned by his wife, often found intoxicated at the local stripclub and looking desperately for half a million dollar to supplement a meager retirement fund. It doesn’t take long before the mob comes knocking with an offer that cannot be refused…
The stage is set for a round of This Is the Police. I now have control over officers and detectives spread into two shifts. Using them, I need to keep crime in check, lend a helping hand to local businesses and provide the occasional favor for the mob. All the while keeping an eye on the physical and mental well-being of my officers.
The game is controlled via a fluent menusystem. In the left part of the screen, the different calls made to dispatch appear. With a simple touch of a button we answer them. Every call has a level of urgency. The higher the urgency, the more officers we can send out. Next to these calls, there are also major crimes. These require detectives. Once they start an investigation, they’ll regularly report in with new details i.e. frames. These frames are to be put in the right order before a case is solved. Once solved, suspects can be arrested by officers. It all sounds simple, but nothing is further from the truth.
For I’m bombarded from all sides with dilemma’s. City hall demanding I hire more female officers, for example. If I meet their demands, it means I’ll have to fire some experienced male officers. If I ignore city hall, then city hall is bound to ignore my requests for a higher salary or more detectives. The more I progress, the more calls there are to be answered. With a limited force it’s virtually impossible to answer them all. More often than not, I’m struggling to choose. Do I send a squad to the little boy that’s home alone and thinks he heard something downstairs or do I send that squad to the man on the bridge threatening to kill himself?
All hell breaks loose when a second crime family vies for control with the mob. Jack is forced to pick sides and whichever side he chooses, they’ll often need help from my officers…
This Is the Police is a fun little sim, but it dangerously skirts close to becoming repetitive. Calls start to look more and more alike, and soon I catch myself playing automatically, without paying too much attention to what’s actually going on. The increasing difficulty somewhat helps in creating a more entertaining gameplay, but at the same time I can imagine beginners in the genre being turned off by it.