There is such a thing as being too ambitious..
I liked This is the Police when it came out for the Switch last year. It had its flaws, but it also had an interesting premise, all while being a perfectly competent management game. Its sequel is more of the same, but expands further with a new tactical system and other new gameplay elements. This is good news on one hand, as I found the original to be a bit too repetitive. But between the dialogue, spike in difficulty and juggling the various gameplay elements, This Is The Police II often feels like it’s trying to do too much, all while not being that much fun to play.
Immediately following the events of the original game, main protagonist Jack Boyd finds himself hiding in a town not too far away from the first game’s town. He soon finds himself working with a female sheriff who isn’t taken seriously, and needs help running the precinct. Much like in the original, Sharpwood’s police force falls into a state of corruption, and it is up to you to determine just how deep you’re willing to go into the underbelly in order to come out alive.
The story and premise is interesting-- it’s another look into how a police force falls into corruption, and how officer’s actions impact the lives of others. I like the narrative, but the problem lies within the writing. The story often drags between each day, never really going anywhere. There are way too many scenes where a character will just ramble on about nothing relating to the plot for a long period of time. They were going for a certain style of storytelling here, but it falls flat in execution. Much like the original, the bulk of This is the Police II has you managing a group of police officers, assigning them to various investigations throughout Sharpwood. A new attribute system adds a new element of gameplay that helps you defuse situations more easily based on attributes certain officers have, such as shooting or stealth. I liked this part of the gameplay the most, but you’ll learn to hate most of your officers very quickly. They’ll find various ways of complicating matters: they often get drunk, give some of the lamest excuses in the world to skip work, and sometimes you’ll even see officers refuse to work with one another for the stupidest reasons. It’s infuriating and makes you want to hate them all for being lazy jerks.
Another new gameplay element consists of tactical gameplay missions similar to recent XCOM games. I didn’t like these missions for a couple of reasons. One, if you decide to skip these, you get massive end of the day penalties, almost to an unfair degree. Two, these missions often result in deaths of police officers, because it’s very difficult to clear these areas without having anyone emerge unscathed -- even one hit can cripple an officer and put them out of action. Considering you need as many officers as possible to complete all the other things you need to do to have a positive end of the day result, these missions feel like a completely unneeded, unwanted burden.
I felt many times while playing that This is the Police II often tries too much to stack the deck against you. It's is hard, and not in a good way There are so many variables and so many ways for something to go wrong, more often than not you never have the adequate resources to successfully complete a day without facing any penalties. I can’t tell you how many times I had to reload the save file just so I could have enough of the in-game currency to spend on new officers and weapons.
I appreciate This is the Police II in that it tries to be a more ambitious game than the original. It still carries aspects from the first game that I liked, such as the atmosphere and narrative. But between the sharp increase in difficulty, juggling the various gameplay elements and the long-winded storytelling, it simply isn’t that fun to play. Sometimes trying to do so much dilutes what you’re trying to accomplish, and This is The Police II is a prime example of that.