This is the Police was a solid example of, dare I say, Souls-like features; a game which nothing was exactly fair and balanced in your favour. This is what made it fun. It captured the essence of this grubby town, its misanthropic chief of police and the hell it was keeping your life together. Sure, it had problems but overall it was a strong and unique strategy experience.
This is the Police 2 drags itself along in the same boots and is pretty close to a perfect sequel. Problems from the first game? Sorted. Additional features to develop the strategy? That’s all there. The difficulty still balanced not in your favour? That too. But with this new scope brings some new problems, so while your old ailments are pretty much gone new issues keep requiring your attention.
Now for those who never played the original, which in a review of a sequel is probably a minority, the story follows pretty quickly onwards, and the gameplay follows suit. Jack Boyd is back, with John Saint John providing his voice again. Now, however, the town is not Freeburg, it’s Sharpwood, a Midwestern town with the usual problems of underfunding and poor policing. How things play out is somewhat reminiscient of how you played the original, although if you didn’t you can design your story through some early choices.
The story is played out the same way either through the original comic-strip imagery with radio drama soundings or fully animated cutscenes. The story is far more rich and heaving with action in this iteration, and rather than the first game where there’s was lots of time between story actions each days bring more detail to the table. The interaction between Jack and Sharpwood’s sheriff Lily really make the story feel rich, with Jack’s domineering attitude of being an absolute authority on good striking against Lily’s inexperience in the role.
Now the traditional gameplay from the first game is back. You have the overview of the town and from here you assign officers to cases as they appear. While this sounds easy you are usually understaffed, and various staff members have loyalty which needs earning. While set-up for each day sounds easy: Just pick your officers; you usually are having to deal with a few who have to disappear and a few who are just morons.
The biggest new addition to the roster now is tactical missions. When certain missions appear they will require you to take control of your officers in a style which can only be described as XCOM. The detail is pretty similar in all regards, with each officer getting two actions which can be inclusive of moving around and stopping foes with various equipment. It requires the same tactical forethought as XCOM, although this is far less punishing.
At the end of each day, you can count up beer tabs, used as a daily currency, and buy more officers. Don’t ever expect things to be strongly in your favour though. The department is underfunded and the staff are complete tools. If you do not like the odds being against you then this game will only be fun for about 20 minutes.
Now if you have the patience for this then you’ll have to get over a few new issues. Some of the characters voicing does not really seem to fit with what they’re saying, particularly Lily, who tends to sound exasperated far more than whatever emotion she is feeling. You will also feel some frustration with the tactical missions, as the movement is not entirely clear on what counts and doesn’t count as cover.
This is the Police 2 is a game with a lot of improvements over the original. The mechanical steps make the game far better than the original and more streamlined to boot. A few new errors come to light but I found none of that took away the experience of being in the struggling top job again. This is how a sequel should be: Better with a little more.