Oh no, not this crap again! In May of 2013 we reviewed a German police simulator, called “Police Force 2”, published by Excalibur Publishing. In our review we found it to be a buggy exercise in tedium, with some severe performance issues and game-breaking bugs. It’s been well over a year and Excalibur are back at it, with Odin Games Studio as developers. This time they bring us “Enforcer: Police Crime Action“, which they dub a “new breed of Police Simulator”. We’ weren’t exactly sure what that meant, but with vivid memories of Police Force 2 still languishing deep in our sub conscience, we fired up their latest effort
Booting the game up revealed all of the hallmarks of an Excalibur title: poorly designed menus with cheesy music, and some awkward translations, but having played our share of simulators we expected nothing less . Before you start your career as a police officer in this “new breed” of police simulation, you get the choice of a male or female protagonist, a choice that took us by surprise. We were taken aback even further when the game booted into an introduction sequence, detailing how your father was a cop and that you’d decided to follow in his footsteps. Aside from the awkward PS2-era graphics, everything seemed to be in order, good you might even say.
Unsurprisingly, all of the positive feeling we’d accumulated over those opening minutes was soon dashed. Like Police Force 2 before it, everything falls to bits the minute you take control.A splash screen greets you with a short, poorly translated, introduction to the game, and apart from that you are pretty much on your own.
After fumbling around for half an hour we finally managed to make it from the driveway to the inside our new home. You see, Enforcer: Police Crime Action isn’t just a police simulator, no, it’s also a quasi-life simulator. When you’re not patrolling the streets, taking the fight to the bad guys, you’ll be meeting up with gran and gramps, eating food, and buying items for your home from an extremely limited catalogue. We were, initially, bemused by these inclusions, but then remembered, this is an Excalibur game. It’s quite common for their developers to spread themselves a little too thin, trying to be everything to all men, and usually ending up as nothing to, mostly, everybody. But with those positive first impressions in mind, we pushed on.
In Enforcer you can be either on or off duty. When you are off duty you are free to roam the map, grab a bite to eat, check your emails or see your friends and family. Doing this helps you to de-stress and will keep your energy topped up. But it’s when you are on duty that you’ll be arresting crooks. Going from off duty to on duty requires you to go home and put your uniform on at your wardrobe. From there you’ll be able to get behind the wheel of your squad car and take on various missions that will be beamed over to you from HQ.Successfully completing missions awards you with experience and cash, and you’ll be able to work your way up from a lowly officer to the chief of police. In that regard, the game is quite similar to Police Force 2. Missions vary from dispensing tickets to incorrectly parked cars, to detaining armed robbers, and setting up speed traps for speeding motorists. There are, apparently, around 200 unique incidents to attend to, but we haven’t seen anything near that in our time playing.
While out on the beat you’ll occasionally be contacted by HQ, asking you to attend incidents. Although there are a decent variety of different missions, they all play very similarly. Following your map to the indicated area will take you to the location of the incident and you’ll have to search it for the perpetrator and their victim. From what we have seen, things always play out he same way: you’ll approach the suspect, who will then draw a weapon and begin firing on you. You can return fire with either your pistol, automatic rifle or tazer. There’s no room for negotiations, though, and the criminal will never go down without a fight. Depending on how you’ve apprehended them, you’ll then need to call an ambulance or a police van to come and take them away. A sequence that should be action-packed and exhilirating is, instead, formulaic and dull. And it’s made even less enjoyable by the lack of any discernible A.I. Enemies won’t take cover, or retreat to safe zones, instead, they’ll stand head-on with you and take potshots while staying stationary. There only seems to be two A.I states: stationary and running, and it really takes the excitement out of the game. You’ll always know what is coming and how to handle it. Unlike the real world, there’s no unpredictability.
A lack of believable situations isn’t Enforcer: Police Crime Action‘s only problem though, that list is very long. Every aspect of the game, from its low-poly character models, ancient graphics, half-finished animation sequences, poor path finding sloppy controls, even right down to the nuts and bolts, such as its shooting mechanics, are unfinished. This game is not finished. It’s an Alpha sold as a full retail game. It’s almost as if the development team ran out of money half way through and decided to ship it as-is. And that’s not acceptable. That’s not to say that there isn’t some potential here, though. Cruising around in your squad car, setting up road blocks, or catching drunk drivers can be mildly entertaining, but it isn’t enough to justify a purchase.
Clearly, many people will disagree with us. Right now, on steam, the game is sitting with a mostly positive review score, but we suspect this may be because there isn’t much out there for police simulation fans. It could be a case of gamer Stockholm Syndrome, or lower standards, but these people have been starved of a quality cop sim.
Enforcer is more enjoyable to play than Police Force 2 but that’s not saying much; a pepper spray enema is more enjoyable than Police Force 2. Perhaps next time Excalibur will get third time lucky, and find a developer that will flesh out the core concept a little more, rather than adding features that are surplus to requirement.
If Police Force 2 was the equivalent of Police Academy: Mission To Moscow, then Enforcer is The Naked Gun 33⅓. Make of that what you will.
Enforcer: Police Crime Action is available on Steam.