This one goes out to all those who still have that cops and robbers roleplay love in them.
I don’t think I ever grew up. And by this I mean in the sense that I have always enjoyed playing cops and robbers, luckily nowadays game developers have made it easier to step into that role (granted not many titles out there, but the few I am playing don’t disappoint). I love going onto platforms like Kickstarter to see what titles are up and coming in the gaming world, mostly from small developers trying to make a name for themselves. And being an early backer of the game you get quite a bit of say in it, helping to shape the game to something you would really enjoy and that makes it feel that it was tailored specifically for you (noting that the change would need to make sense and enhance the game).
This is mainly solo for now (as the game is still in very…very…veeerryy early Alpha stages) and for the foreseeable future as they try and iron out all the bugs and create a super functional title before they build onto that. The label I guess you can give this game is a police simulation title, just minus the construction part. You will receive a stock standard precinct to manage and to keep safe, with a whole host of other challenges being thrown in as the developers expand on their game development. Although you don’t get your hands dirty by controlling your units individually, you still feel a sense of control and involvement (at your discretion and if choose to) with the amount of actions you will have with regards to unit control in each callout they respond to.
Gameplay/Map and “Story”
So delving into more detail with what this game actually is, let’s start with the basics. This as briefly mentioned would be a city-builder (minus the building part as precinct is already up and running), mixed in with some strategy and real time tactic management all bundled into one package. You take on the roll of police chief of this precinct, trying to see if you have the ability to balance the books and balance the needs of your little town and officers. The developers have really gone the extra mile with regards to allowing you to manage your police force and the way they approach each situation, allowing you to choose the level of force that they can use, along with the approach (like surrounding a building before entry etc..). Then delving a bit deeper into some features to help you make your force unique and stand out above the rest. They allow you to fully customize the look of your patrol cars, from the classic undercover car, right up to and if you feel like it a disco on wheels. I loved that little aspect of it and makes you appreciate the level of detail that sometimes goes into the design of these vehicles.
Moving onto some other mechanics of the game, apart from being able to fully customize your vehicles, you are also put behind the enrolment if your officers, being able to pick the cream of the crop from a roster (if the funding allows), or if you want the doughnut loving cops who don’t really contribute much in a physical way but excel in tactics you can also go that route. This is why keep using the word balance a lot, you have to get that right balance in your force in order for them to be able to defuse any situation that might come up. There will be a whole host of callouts you can respond to, with the developers always working on more scenarios and callouts you will have to deal with in future updates. You get to set the patrol routes and assign the level of visibility you want from your officers, or have minimal presence and more reserve officers to respond to situations (it’s all up to you in the end) with bother scenarios mentioned having their own cause and effect.
Now let’s talk about the size of the map and areas you will have to manage, at the moment the map feels just right and not overly big. They have quite a good balance going, where you don’t feel to overwhelmed with the amount of real estate you have to keep safe and secure, and have a good police visibility going. Along with that they have also made it pretty easy to set up your patrol routes and not making you feel stretched out to thin when you start with limited amount officers and vehicles, although it always helps to have a unit or two at the station in order to assist other officers when needed.
The callouts also give you a good sense and feel of how hectic life of a dispatcher must be, with numerous callouts coming in at the same time, all of them having varied levels of severity, so you really have to stay focused on what is going on in your little city. The amount of times I have overlooked a callout is just scary, and you do end up feeling a bit guilty that forgot about that silly noise complaint as you don’t want to treat lesser offences or complaints as something you can just overlook. That and I’m pretty sure it affects the level of confidence citizens have in you and your police force.
I threw story into the heading just to give a breakdown of the game and your purpose in the game. there is no real linear story to the game and your purpose as Chief of Police is to manage your officers and precinct in a financially sustainable way along with the officers under your control. Ensuring whatever you call your town will be the safest community out there, a place where criminals will fear setting up shop and making sure people respect the rule of law.
This title is really a hidden gem, although it possibly only fits a certain market (the cops and robber lovers like me), I still think it does have something for everyone to enjoy, the game never felt mundane or repetitive (although you do get the same callouts to respond to, they will all require a different approach). It feels awesome seeing your precinct grow and become a safer place (as all your zones go from red to green) and how your officers improve in skill level and how they handle situations as they progress. I do wish that there was some auto incident assignment in the game, but I say this not as a negative thing. I just sometimes love to switch on a game and enjoy the dynamic and free flowing feel of a town as everyone goes about their day to day life, watching how officers would have responded to a scene when controlled by AI, so in no real way is this part aimed at anyone (more just a little inner monologue I have going sometimes). So if you enjoy managing a police force on a grander scale, this is definitely something I recommend joining the “Alpha Team” on the games actual official page, I have found this was money well spent and the developers are extremely active in the community and in releasing updates and fixing bugs that do get reported.