Police Simulator Patrol Officers portrays a solid foundation of a police officer’s career along with the ability to improve. While there are a large amount of options and crimes available to us for investigation, those which are absent along with some buggy features detract from would could be an extremely complete representation.
Police Simulator: Patrol Officers was released originally last year on PC and has now come to consoles. Aesir Interactive brings the first in-depth police simulator allowing players to step into the role of an officer on foot or mobile patrol. This game portrayed a special intrigue to me as, full disclosure, I am currently a full-time police officer in the state of New Jersey for the last 20 years. Having chosen patrol as my career path within my department, I was curious to see just how accurate the game could be to the actual police experience. Now, of course no game can justifiably portray the dynamic and constantly changing day to day career of a police officer. As a result, it wouldn’t be fair to judge the title on that aspect alone. Instead, I chose to focus on both the variety of options included therein as well as how said options are implemented.
Police Simulator takes place in a fictional city as a member of the Brighton Police Department. We begin our careers on foot patrol within a certain area of the city. As we progress, additional areas are unlocked along with car patrols and various types of police calls for service. This is not simply a pull someone over, give them a ticket and let them go type of game. Police Simulator and its developers were clearly vested in making a true to life and accurate representation of the police career. The shifts are 8 hours in length, and can range in the amount of real-life time it takes to complete lasting for 15, 20, 25, 30, 35,45, 60 or 90 minutes.
Beginning with parking tickets on your first patrol, there are plenty of options to choose from. Summonses can be issued for parking against the flow of traffic, on a curb, expired meter, expired plates as well as a variety of no parking zones such as handicapped, bus stops, etc. Fortunately, the game’s easy to use radial menu makes navigation quick and easy. There are plenty to find all over the city. Tow trucks can also be instantly deployed in order to remove vehicles that are improperly parked or belong to an individual subject to an arrest. As you level up, you gain access to a radar gun to also allow you to stop and capture speeders from a strategic position.
The city of Brighton apparently has the worst drivers around as motor vehicle crashes seemingly occur every couple of minutes. Calls come out over your police radio informing you of the crash. As players, we have the choice to either respond to the call or allow another officer to handle it. Choosing to respond also institutes a timer and failing to arrive on time sees the call disappear along with any possible points you may have earned. In addition to being a police officer, I am also a member of my county’s Fatal Accident Investigation Unit (F.A.I.U.) as a certified motor vehicle crash reconstructionist for the last five years. As a part of this unit, we investigate all fatal and serious bodily injury crashes using mathematical formulas in order to determine what occurred and reconstruct the crash from its inception. Police Simulator does a surprisingly good job with the depiction of its crashes from a vehicle placement point of view. The vehicles themselves react in a manner that is consistent with how they would react in real life. I was surprised, as crashes actually depicted vehicles colliding to a point of maximum engagement before separating from each other.
Once at the scene of the crash, as in any call in the game, there is a sliding scale showing how much of the investigation you have completed. As an officer, you will need to attend to any injuries and seek medical attention for those who need it by calling an ambulance to the scene. You will then need to request the proper documentation from each driver along with interviewing them to ascertain their recollection of the crash. A provided evidence camera allows you to photograph the scene and document the damage on the involved vehicles. Interviewing the involved parties is where Police Simulator really thrives as there are a multitude of options presented to us as players. A computer check can reveal expired insurance, registration, driver’s license, open warrants, fake id’s as well as stolen Id’s. Drivers may also present evidence of driving while intoxicated, allowing us to provide a chemical breath test to determine the content of alcohol in their blood. Tests for DWI cannabis and amphetamine are also available. Once you believe your investigation is complete, you can issue any summonses or arrest any individuals involved for the appropriate reason. Drivers are then provided copies of the report and sent on their way, albeit none of them are arrested.
Motor vehicle stops are another important aspect of Police Simulator. During your patrol, you’ll encounter a plethora of options and violators ranging from blowing a red light or not using a turn signal to speeding or stolen vehicles. Once behind a violator, you’ll need to activate your emergency lights and police siren in order to make the driver pull over. Zooming in on the license plate runs the registration through your in-game computer, allowing you to see all of the necessary information. We are told if the registration and insurance is valid, if the vehicle is stolen, if the registered owner possesses a valid driver’s license as well as if the owner maintains a gun permit. Upon approaching the vehicle, you will inform the driver of their violation and request their proper documentation. Once you receive the documents, the manner in which you proceed is entirely up to you. Players have the opportunity to issues violations or verbal warnings, investigate for further crimes, impound the vehicle, etc.
Police Simulator operates on a point scale called Conduct Points (CP). You begin each shift with 100 points and lose points for various actions. This can be for informing a driver of an improper reason for a stop, illegal search, improper summons issues, improper arrest, improper use of force, etc. Losing CP points takes away from your final score at the end of the shift, and losing all 100 points during your shift gets you “fired”, and you start all over. These points reset for each shift. For the most part, the CP flows with the direction of the game, but there were some issues with its implementation. For example, I stopped a driver for blowing a red light. My investigation yielded that the driver had an open warrant for his arrest. A search of the driver uncovered a switch blade, which is illegal in Police Simulator. This being the case, as I arrested the driver for the switch blade, I still lost CP because it was not the initial reason for the stop. Police Simulator has to operate in its own world regarding what is legal and what isn’t simply due to the shear variety of state and federal laws. For the most part, the game does just that. However, there were some issues of certain actions being flagged as improper in some instances but ok in others.
In addition, Police Simulator only allows for one criminal charge per interaction while multiple motor vehicle summonses can be issued. This led to a break in the immersion of the game as the radial menu options became altered. For example, at one point I was investigating a motor vehicle crash where the driver had an open warrant and was driving a stolen vehicle. A search of the driver’s person led to recovering an illegal weapon. The driver then fled on foot, forcing me to run after her and deploy my taser in order to get her to stop. Now, to be clear, we have four criminal charges in this instance. Stolen car, open warrant, illegal item in search and fleeing from police. After tasing the driver, she was placed under arrest and secured in the rear of my patrol vehicle for transport. However, I could only charge her with one crime, so I chose the illegal weapon. Also, the ability to issue summonses had disappeared as the driver was no longer a “driver” according to the game and instead a pedestrian. As a result, the menu prompts for the stop were removed. In other words, the charges for fleeing, open warrant and stolen car simply never happened. There needs to be an additional option in the radial menu for multiple criminal charges. It is already present for motor vehicle violations, and is a necessary part of police investigation. In a game that takes so much care to provide a variety of options, I’m honestly surprised this one slipped through the cracks.
The most accurate aspect of Police Simulator is that how there is so much to do within the game, but not enough time to do it all. One shift I chose to last one hour in real time. At the beginning of the shift, the dispatcher advised me over the radio of an issue with speeders in the area. As a result, bonus points were awarded for all speeders captured on the radar gun. I positioned my officer on the corner of an intersection in order to provide the largest range of coverage for radar. What followed next was nearly identical to a standard day in patrol for me. My radar was cut short as a call for service of a major motor vehicle crash came over the radio. Upon my arrival, I observed three vehicles involved with two injured pedestrians in the roadway. Each driver received multiple summonses and two of the drivers were arrested; one for DWI and the other for stolen vehicle. All three vehicles were impounded, as the third had no valid insurance. Completing the scene took 40 minutes of my 60 minute shift. In addition, three other calls for service for motor vehicle crashes and a possible wallet thief occurred during my investigation. All of these calls went unanswered, forcing “other officers” in the game to respond. As a result, there was little time left to do anything else, let alone capture speeders. Plain and simple, this is what my day in and day out routine in like within my department. It’s also the best part of my job as a police officer. The constant variety and degree of uncertainty of being a police officer was accurately portrayed in Police Simulator with the level of randomness in which calls were generated.
Multiplayer also exists in Police Simulator. Players have the ability host a public session, invite friends or join a public session. Doing so will allow officers a partner during the course of their shift to assist in their investigations. While operational at the time, however, I was unable to test the feature out during review due solely to the number of players at the time being relegated to reviewers who were not online at the same time as me.
Now, this is a simulator after all. With that comes certain things accustomed to the genre. By that, I mean the ever-present janky movement of the characters with the occasional “character stuck in a wall”. None of these instances were really game breaking and didn’t take away from the gameplay functionality at all. It was more of a visual than technical distraction of the game which will most likely be adjusted as time goes on with updates.
The features I mentioned are also just the beginning. As you level up, more features, vehicles, patrol areas and equipment become available to you. You’ll be able to stop pedestrians for jay walking, littering, drinking in public, wallet thief, matching the description of a suspect and more. Once you hit a certain level, you earn the ability to engage in open patrol. Here, you are able to travel anywhere in your city rather than only your assigned district. Road flares and barricades can be deployed to redirect traffic in certain areas and much more.
As I said earlier, no game no matter how accurate is going to be able to truthfully portray the ever changing and dynamic nature of being a police officer. It simply isn’t possible. However, the developer recognizes this and what Police Simulator does is operate as accurately as possible within its determined parameters. The beauty of simulators is that they are constantly evolving. Police Simulator has so many options available already, with unlimited options at its disposal for future additions and upgrades. No simulator is ever complete as a result, but Police Simulator sets the stage with a quality baseline and ability to improve upon an already solid foundation.