astragon Entertainment and Aesir Interactive are giving us sim Police Simulator: Patrol Officers on PS. Check our Police Simulator: Patrol Officers review!
“We’ve got a situation over on Corville. I’m gonna need all available units-”
“Mia, I’ve told you before that the donut shop running out of the Sprinkled ones is not an emergency.”
“No buts, now get back to work. Those illegally parked cars are not gonna ticket themselves!”
Sadly, that exchange is not in a game called Police Simulator. You would think Aesir Interactive and astragon Entertainment, currently in the throngs of making a name for themselves in the “unusual”
So what is the day-to-day of Police Simulator? You are a rookie working for the Brighton Police Department on your first day on the job, trying to make a name for yourself. To ease you in, you are expected to complete the simpler tasks of just looking at parked cars in the local district and making sure they do not disobey the law. Should you wish, you are then able to either ticket the offending car or have it towed. By correctly following the procedures and assigning the correct reprimand for each situation, you will gain experience points in the form of Shift Points. These can gain you access to new locations, new tools, and new potential crime types to supervise – say, for example, car accidents. Should you make the wrong accusation or act improperly, you will lose face with the public and, in turn, with your superiors.
As the name implies, Police Simulator is a sim that tries to emulate what an average police officer will experience on a day’s shift. The game tries to ease you in gently by incrementally introducing new features to you. You are tasked with making sure the local populations are obeying the parking laws of the town, making sure parking meters are not expired, cars are not mounting the curb, and so on. Soon you will be dealing with accidents and wallet lifters, to name some examples.
The intent to ease the player in gently is there, but the execution is poor, to say the least. In the early stages, the game seems somewhat sensible but somehow falls on two fronts. The first is quite early on. I was given the ability to stop and check the ID of pedestrian drivers alike. On a whim, I decided to check the license plates of a car that was stopped at a red light, only to find out that the driver had an outstanding warrant. Whilst I was able to get the necessary information to prove he should be arrested and I was able to get him to stop his car, I was not able to get him to step out of the vehicle simply because I had not unlocked that ability yet. For about twenty minutes, the man and I were in an awkward standoff, with me desperately trying to get him to get out of his car and him just wanting to drive and move on with his life. I needed to unlock an additional ability to pull over cars before I could interact with drivers. I understand easing in the player gently but perhaps maybe not give me the ability to interact with drivers until you are fully ready to give me all the tools needed to do so!
Secondly, drip-feeding you some abilities seems sensible, but it soon falls apart when you consider the tutorials are not as extensive as they could be. Soon after this, I was given the ability to attend car accidents. Upon arriving, you are supposed to gather evidence by interviewing the drivers involved in the crash, calling ambulances if needed, and taking pictures of the scene. Doing all of the necessary investigative tasks allows you to create a more comprehensive report to hand to the motorists, but I noticed that I kept getting told my reports were insufficient. It turns out I had not earned enough experience points to unlock the camera needed to take pictures, which seemed counter-intuitive as I was hamstrung in my attempts to be as comprehensive as possible.
Eventually, you do get into a rhythm as you intuitively come to know what to do when situations begin to reoccur. Even as a European playing this game, I was able to pick up certain necessities of the procedures and the nuances of certain American laws regarding parking permits and things such as jaywalking. This is the small part where the game shines. Issues aside, the investigative aspect of the game is strong – looking at IDs for inconsistencies or the gentle sways of an intoxicated person. The game can be rewarding when you investigate an innocuous encounter only to discover something much bigger. Conversely, the instances of thinking there is something else going on only to discover you were wrong is a learning one and just as rewarding. But these instances become insignificant when you consider the avalanches of bugs this game seems to have.
Almost every traffic accident I attended ended with some kind of bug marring the experience, from pedestrians and cars alike failing to navigate through accidents to drivers involved in said crashes standing inside of their cars instead of beside them as they are meant to. On more than one occasion, upon calling a tow truck to carry away a crashed car, the trucks themselves will either get stuck in traffic even with a lane clear or very obvious means to get to the trashed cars. Or the AI for the truck will just stop and refuse to take away the offending car, thereby causing more traffic rather than alleviating it. Whenever any of these things occur, you are unable to do anything and instead just have to abandon the scene.
Thankfully the play areas are large enough for you to get far away for things to despawn, but the fact that this is an option mars the experience. As mentioned already, the maps are quite sizeable and can be navigated easily on foot and also by car. Whichever method you use sees you coming across some sights of interest that the occasional pedestrian will randomly stop to ask you for directions. If you already know the location, you can point it to the pedestrian for easy credit. If not, you can make a guess, and if you are wrong, the pedestrian will tell you in so many words. It’s the little touches like those that make me want to like this game. Coming from a background of GTA and games similar to that where you are practically encouraged to drive like a maniac all the time, there is something relaxing about driving your police-issued car around town, making sure you observe the traffic laws of the town because you are also beholden to them and can get into trouble should you fail to observe them. When the game keeps things simple and straightforward, everything is fine, but when it tries to do too much in one go, it falls apart dramatically.
In one instance, I was attending a car crash involving three cars. At first, I was only able to see two cars and was not even aware of a third car due to it not spawning. As a result, my grades for assessing the incident were skewered due to not being given the full details. Eventually, 5 minutes later, the car spawned… at the same time as an incident concerning a stolen wallet and someone graffitiing a nearby wall, all whilst a pedestrian was saying hello to me. In fairness, you are not required to handle every single incident and should prioritize, but, at the same time, it feels as if the game does not understand context, especially when you are playing alone and trying so very hard to populate the world with too many incidents to keep you engaged when if anything it needs to find ways to slow the action down.
A prime example of this is the radar gun. About halfway through a career, you are given access to a radar gun which you can use to take pictures of speeding cars. Upon seeing an offender, you are meant to equip the gun via an item wheel brought up by the Triangle button and use the left stick to navigate, which actually works as intended. The only problem is the game does not stop the action whilst you switch items, so by the time you have the gun ready, the car is already out of sight.
Now, there is room to argue that pausing the game whilst I selected an item would be unrealistic in a simulator… and yes, I could see that being true. This is why I chose to have the gun out permanently at all times, so I will be able to capture speeding cars in action. Great plan… except the moment you try to interact with anything else, even things that do not require item usage, the gun automatically de-equips itself, thereby leaving you back at square one.
You fair better when driving and trying to catch offending cars…at least most of the time. Whilst in your car, you can use your sirens to indicate you are on an emergency call or just blip a short burst of your sirens to alert the car in front that you wish for it to pull over. Unfortunately, this does not always work. Sometimes cars will take forever and a day to pull over, quite often pulling over beyond the boundary of the current map, and if you exceed these boundaries, you are threatened with a dismissal. You are then faced with a ludicrous situation of trying to stand within your boundary whilst dealing with a person standing outside of your jurisdiction.
Trophy hunters that want to work on adding a new Platinum trophy to their collection will need to work their way through a list that includes 12 Bronze trophies, 6 Silver trophies, and 7 Gold trophies. The objectives to complete will include collecting your first duty star, justifiably ordering a car towed, starting your first shift in each location, photographing your first piece of evidence, justifiably calling for an ambulance, or justifiably arresting a person with an open warrant on them. Do these actions over and over again, and you’ll also knock out some extra trophies along the way.
As fun as Police Simulator: Patrol Officers has the potential to be, it loses a lot of points by sometimes breaking its own rules, not to mention the long list of bugs you will no doubt encounter during your time with the game. There’s certainly room for improvement, so if a sequel eventually arrives, it will be interesting to see if the team manages to fix its mistakes from this police sim release. Police Simulator: Patrol Officers is available as a Cross-Buy title with a $39.99 asking price, and your purchase will give you access to both the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5 versions of the game.
This Police Simulator: Patrol Officers review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by astragon Entertainment.