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Review: This Is the Police (PlayStation 4)By William Lowery At 11.08.2017 15:06

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It's 1985, exaggerated hair styles and colours are in style, and box office hits such as Back to the Future dominate the big screen. However, for those living in the city of Freeburg around this time, it is not a good place. Murder and robbery dot the front page of the newspaper. Meanwhile, gangs run loose selling illegal goods and getting into conflict with one another, and not even the city's local political infrastructure is safe from corruption.

Enter Jack Boyd, a police chief who has been part of the force for many years, and a man that is ready for the sweet call of retirement. Before he can officially call it quits, Boyd must run the police force for the remaining six months of this period, all the while contending with problems and entanglements regarding family, friends, and the higher-ups who desperately seek to run him out as soon as possible.

Story is quite arguably one of This Is the Police's most compelling angles. Portrayed in comic book panels minimalistic in their presentation but thriving with energy thanks to the solid acting, the writing shows the struggles of a man who wants to free the weight of the world from his shoulders, but just when Jack thinks he has a break, some incident drags him right back in. It's a theme that carries into the game's management style of gameplay, which can put the gamer into scenarios where the only option is to accept the consequences of what seemed like a smart move to make.

Indeed, the gameplay is strongly reminiscent of Sim City, except the player is managing cops, detectives, and busting crimes. Throughout the game's 180 days, Jack must keep law in check while raising enough money to leave with once the end is reached. How it's done, though, is up to the person playing. A normal day in This Is the Police goes as follows: Crimes pop up, in turn, Jack can send out officers to the scene of the incident, but when a larger offense such as a homicide or store robbery occurs, detectives might have to be sent out to gather evidence which can be used to piece together what happened. Once the clues are in place, Jack can then send out an arrest for the perp responsible.

However, how well his employees do in these situations depends on their efficiency. Those who are rated 120 or above will often catch the crook and save the day, especially if they have stripes. If one sends out somebody below that number, they may slip up and let the thug escape, or worse, get a civilian or themselves killed. When a cop does succeed, they earn more points, if they fail, then their rating is deducted. There are opportunities to better those falling behind; if possible, partner lower-rated officers with higher ones, since that increases the chances of them doing better, or he or she can be sent off to the academy. Alternatively, Jack can just fire them if they aren't up to snuff and hire new people in their place.

Initially, sending out policemen and women to thwart criminals and detectives to figure out investigations starts out simple, but isn't before long that the game throws in new twists and turns to the basic set-up to make the experience more harrowing; namely, morality choices. Throughout the campaign and during most cut-scenes, the player must make decisions that will affect the outcome of many situations. Early on, the local mafia will approach Jack and tell him of crimes the gang will commit within the forthcoming day. If one avoids arresting the members when these moments pop up, then Jack earns their respect. Fail to meet their demands one too many times, and the reward shall instead be a death for Jack, just one of the many ways of possibly failing the game.

This is just one of many ways This Is the Police keeps gamers on the edge of their seat, and many times, the incidents can put Jack's career in jeopardy. Fail to keep city hall and the mayor happy, and he can receive a cut in his payroll and the removal of individuals from his squads. His officers must also be kept in line. Each new day features a different roster of cops, but some might want a day off for a multitude of reasons ranging from sensible to flat-out lying. It's these moments, combined with the engaging story, that keep This Is the Police enjoyable, but its set-up also proves to be its biggest downfall.

While managing the police force and sending criminals to the slammer is quite fun, at a certain point, the game loses steam once all the major mechanics have been introduced. Even with the rotating selection of jazz and classical tunes to listen to while delivering justice, the gradual monotony of things begins to greatly dour the experience, especially for those trying to see Jack's rollercoaster 180 days all the way through.

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Final Score
[i]This Is the Police[/i] should be applauded for taking a concept such as police work and making it into a unique, yet somewhat flawed experience. The tale of Jack Boyd and his struggles to escape the trappings of his troublesome life make for an interesting story, but like his state of mind, the constant back-and-forth between work and contending with ambiguous morality choices through each passing day makes it seem like a never-ending cycle of success and failure.

6

/10

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