Can you combat city crime and mop up the miscreants of mayhem? Well this is your chance to find out. Here we have yet another real life simulation game bought to us by Excalibur Publishing. They have not had such a good track record of amazing simulations so I was a bit dubious about what to expect in this new title. I have always fancied myself as a bit of a crime-busting vigilante, so I thought this might be my opportunity to prove myself. Police Force offers the opportunity to experience law enforcement! You will battle on the front line of crime as a policeman in a thriving city based in Germany. There are plenty of scenarios you will face, as the game brings day and night cycles and various types of weather. It tries hard to give you an idea of what law enforcement entails as the average policeman on the beat, the question is though, is it any good?
The very first thing you will notice, as it seems we see in all of Excalibur Publishing’s previous titles, are the graphics; they are not that good. We are used to seeing this though. I was not shocked to find yet again some pretty basic graphics and art. Just enough though has been put in here to try to give you that feeling of a city. They really should try a bit harder to bring the graphics up to modern day standards. Maybe it’s the time-scale they have to develop the games that stops them, or not enough talented artists in their teams, who knows but they should try harder as it’s the graphics that will put a lot of people off.
After you have selected to start a career and you have named your two officers that you get to control (you have both a male and a female officer to fight off crime), you are faced with your new officers standing in a street next to their patrol car. You are given a very basic tutorial of the controls, all of which are keyboard and mouse based. I was not a fan of the controls and the way you run around from a third-person point of view. They are fiddle and it takes a while to get used to how to run around. They do not seem to have stuck to the universal system of using the ‘WASD’ keys to move around, you need to use other keys to turn left and right or use the right mouse button. I am not sure why they did this instead of having the normal ‘A and D’ keys to move left and right. This will take you a while to get used too.
The same confusion happens with the gameplay, I found the tutorial was not very detailed and it took me a while to work out how to find certain missions easily instead of driving around the sandbox-style city looking for them. To try and explain this, the usual story in these type of games sees a marker appear on the map to help guide you. This is there, but at first I could not work out how to get the marker to appear. I eventually worked it out though and it made the game pretty enjoyable. The whole idea of Police Force is that you are in a sandbox world. At the beginning of each shift you are given an overall task, like do a vehicle check on twenty vehicles. As you play through each shift of about thirty minutes each you also get emergency calls. These entail things like a traffic accident where you have to call in an ambulance and pick-up truck to remove the vehicles. Also, we have side missions like catching a handbag thief and arrest them. These are all pretty enjoyable at the beginning.
As you progress and accomplish missions correctly you gain commendations and gradually you get promoted through the ranks. The higher you get the more exciting missions and emergency’s you get called to. In the beginning, certainly for the first two hours of gameplay, you will find yourself having to do the same tasks over and over again and this does get boring. Especially as you start of in a very small area of the city. You don’t open more areas until an hour or so of playing. To keep you going though, we have in-game achievements called successes and awards. These do help you stay focused but they pretty much just pop up every now and again, there did not seem any real straight forward path to gaining them individually.
The game has some strange problems, one I found very strange was the fact that as you attempt vehicle checks by using a PDA that checks the license plates against the police database, you cannot do this while in your patrol car, you need to be on foot. Also, we have speed camera traps to catch speeding motorists. Again here you can only use the female officers for this task and not the male ones. These are very strange game design choices. I am not sure if they have been implemented on purpose or are bugs, but they do drive you nuts. We also have a health system for each police officer that goes down as you get attacked by the bad guys. You can select which officer to use, but if you just stick with one the other officer just stands there and does not intervene and help you. He does not get any damage either which can be very strange especially if you are fending off groups of thugs at the same time. Therefore, the AI in the game is some of the worst I have seen in a long time
This game is pretty average, but at the same time is actually very enjoyable in an odd way. If you give it a chance and look past the slow pace of progression it has, you will find a fun and enjoyable game. The more you play the better missions you get, like help out in a bank robbery. If you can look past all the bad things and keep going you will find a good way to wind down on your days off work. I will say though, don’t buy this game thinking you are in for a fast paced cops and robbers style game, you will be disappointed as it’s a game that tries to bring the mundane day-to-day tasks of your average policeman on the beat, together with the exciting tasks that he or she gets every now and again.
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