A big upgrade from the first title, with maybe one too many additions
This Is The Police 2 needs two reviews. One for players who actually played This Is The Police, and one for newcomers eager to jump on a fast moving train they know nothing about. But, in very few words, This Is The Police 2 is a police management simulator, mixed with a noir dirty-cop story set in a Fargo-like snowy little town and brand new isometric turn-based strategy ops mode that adds some X-COM into the pot.
You’ll manage police officers through whole crime-filled days, harvest their loyalty or antagonize them and see what the results are, cope with crime lords, gangs, murderers and the main protagonist’s shady past as you juggle as many plates as you can before collapsing.
Jack Boyd has escaped his previous life as Freeburg’s Chief of Police after succumbing to corruption’s unavoidable weight, whether he intended to get dirty or not. Now, after fleeing to a small, snow-covered town called Sharpwood, Boyd changes his identity to Warren Nash and ends up sitting at the sheriff’s office one more time, after getting arrested and convincing the overwhelmed Sheriff Lilly to accept his help instead of calling the feds.
Weappy Studio and THQ Nordic doubled down on two simple things they nailed in TITP: storytelling and management simulation. Apart from these two core aspects, they’ve added turn-based tactical operations, the officer’s and police station’s inventory management, a sort of skill tree progression for each individual cop and even more pressure on us on a day-to-day basis.
The tactical-ops scenarios have a noir feel that reeks of tension and uncertainty, while we order our cops to traverse buildings and snow-covered areas in order to rescue some hostages, arrest or kill all the crooks and more. Traps, hidden criminals and other hazards can start dropping cop bodies quickly, making for each assault a truly tactical challenge. The fact that we can restart it if we lose and try again represents a big sedative to a potentially painful negative outcome.
Elements like taser guns, pepper spray, police batons and stun grenades allow for a non-lethal approach, which is a good thing if we have a cop with an interrogation ability on our squad, allowing us to learn the position of other enemies on-site and avoid entering the wrong room. Silent pick-locking, shadow-stepping and negotiation skills are just some of the perks available for these levels.
Investigations are still there, but I personally let them stack up until I had a handful of cops to spare and assign to, as I couldn’t really afford losing a badge on the field for a good portion of the game’s beginning. Once I could hire a bunch of Sharpwood’s best, I started looking for new clues and frames, completing them a bit late.
I’ve played TITP and I clearly felt a much harder and unforgiving experience in this new entry to the series. Bad things stack up much faster and can easily snowball, resulting in game over. Paying $20,000 periodically to keep the feds out of Boyd’s trail and the need to avoid getting bad results for three days in a row are the two main reasons for this. Getting our cops on the wrong side and not being able to hire enough cops to answer to Sharpwood’s daily criminal demand also bring on our demise.
From a narrative standpoint, I think TITP 2 is great. I’ve witnessed many complaints about it being too filled with cutscenes and unnecessary dialogue but, in my opinion, THQ and Weappy aimed with this to satisfy those players who purchased their first title and wanted more of Jack Boyd’s character and his strong personality. As always, voice acting is right on point. No more will be said on this matter in order to keep this review a spoiler-free read.
Now, is it true that TITP 2 has maybe one too many additions? Maybe, yes. It’s possible that having to answer crime calls, send cops on personal assignments, deal with their laziness and ineptitude, be forced to be corrupt in order to gather 20K each week, deal with assaults and all of this while trying to earn can tabs (the in-station currency) to hire new cops and buy equipment for them may be too much.
But if Weappy’s intention was to create an unforgiving experience that requires us to pay close attention to everything, develop sharp management skills and be cold-hearted, then I don’t see why this is a bad aspect of This Is The Police 2. It’s a challenge and far from a walk in the park. While the first game was also a bit hard, it doesn’t compare to this one by a long shot. I had to endure a couple of weeks at the start of my playthrough with a handful of cops, resulting in many unanswered calls, negative tabs and excruciating bad luck to the point of almost losing the entire game on many different occasions. All of this until I got a hang on the game’s rhythm and was able to get back on track.
To me, each day I went through without seeing Sharpwood’s map going full-mayhem and reaching to a new point in the story, getting a new cutscene and being able to progress in the story was a blessing and a rewarding experience. I understand many players won’t feel the same way, but I digress: there’s a game for newcomers and a game for players who went through This Is The Police 1. And after writing this review, reading other fellow reviewers and thinking about it for a while, I think that Weappy and THQ Nordic prioritised the latter.
In conclusion: if you want a new, hardened police management and resource simulator, more of Jack Boyd’s story and turn-based challenging tactical ops, then This Is The Police 2 is surely a game you’ll want to play. Now, I wouldn’t stop recommending this game even to players who didn’t play This Is The Police, but I would surely issue a warning about its hardness and bitter unforgivingness.