We’ll be honest: we had low expectations going into Police Simulator: Patrol Officers. But actually, we’ve been pleasantly surprised.
After Autobahn Simulator 3 earlier this year, we expected similar atrocities from Police Simulator: Patrol Officer. That was unfair of us, we’ll admit. And actually, developer Aesir Interactive has done a good job of making us feel like a real police officer, patrolling the streets of Brighton, a fictional American town. Don’t expect to rise the ranks to solve murders or go undercover in a crime syndicate: your patrol beat very much deals with smaller infractions such as speeding, parking without a ticket, carrying a weapon without a license and, er, littering.
Yes, when you start playing Police Simulator you can absolutely stop pedestrians in their tracks and write them up for dropping litter. The power may go to your head, and you may spend your first shift simply waiting for someone to drop an errant candy wrapper so you can dive on them. Jaywalking is also something you can write people up for, ironically as you jaywalk yourself to chase them down across the street.
Things do pick up at a fairly brisk pace, though. Each shift lasts you 15 minutes (or longer, if you choose so) and to begin with, you’ll be introduced to something new each day. You’ll quickly be given a speed gun so you can write up cars going over the speed limit, for example. One of our favourite things, though, introduced around day four, is dealing with road traffic accidents.
You’re not going to see bloody, grizzly scenes, but you will have to deal with a fair bit of rear-ending and some angry drivers. You’ll need to interview witnesses, take statements from those involved, take photos of any damage, and check if either driver involved was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You’ve got all the tools on hand: it’s just a case of going through the correct menus and choosing the right option. There’s a lot to get your head around in Police Simulator: Patrol Officers, and you should probably expect to be docked a few points here and there for pressing the wrong thing while you’re still learning the ropes. But once you get used to everything the game throws at you, there’s plenty of law-abiding fun to be had.
Of course, everything needs to be done properly, even down to ticketing a parked car. You’ll need to choose the right reason for ticketing (be it parking on the sidewalk or having an expired meter), and failing to do so will lose you some police points. Those points all add up to net you experience and it’s by accumulating them that you’ll be given new responsibilities and tools.
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Even access to a car has to be earned. Once you do have your own police car, getting around the city becomes easier, though don’t expect to be blown away by the driving mechanics. If you prefer to zero in on smaller infractions, like those parking tickets, you might prefer to stick to being on foot, although certain scenarios will require you to have your car.
You can interact with any NPC that you see, though we recommend that you don’t hassle people unless you have reason for suspicion. You can search anyone if you suspect they may be carrying a weapon or something else illegal. It’s not always easy to tell, but you’ll soon get used to the signs. A person swaying side-to-side as they climb out of the car is a good indication of drink-driving, for example. The game will also pop up with text box tips when someone is acting suspiciously to point you in the right direction.
We’ve been playing Police Simulator: Patrol Officers on PS5, and while it isn’t completely bug-free, its performance has been solid. The streets of Brighton look nice enough and are decorated with enough cafés, business places and parks to make it feel like a living small town. It’s split up into different districts, and it’s your choice at the beginning of your shift on which one you want to patrol. Some areas may have more of a certain type of crime than others, but there’s little difference in terms of visual design.
We’ve had a few glitches, although nothing game-breaking. Calling for back-up after dealing with a car crash has led to cars getting stuck on the road, as AI mapping is rather poor. But our shift still ended as normal, and we were rewarded for our efforts, so that became someone else’s problem. The animations aren’t always great, but accept that this is a budget title and it’s hard to be too bothered by anything. You might just snicker as someone floats past you.
The goalpost may not have been particularly high, but Police Simulator: Patrol Officers is the best police sim game we’ve played. It’s far from perfect, but if you like the idea of dealing with petty crimes and road traffic accidents, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this. The detail-oriented approach will appeal to those who like to do things by the book, though others may find it laborious. But that’s the case with just about any simulation game, is it not?