Game Reviews

A Fun Distraction | “Rebel Cops” (2019) Game Review

The third and most up to date selection in the “This Is the Police” series developed by Weappy Studio, “Rebel Cops” is a spin off title of the series. Released in 2019, it continues the narrative of the series but it throws away the time management aspect of its predecessors and is strictly a tactical/turn based game. Tactical missions, introduced in the second game, make up the gameplay of this one.

How did it go? Let’s have a look, starting with what the game did well:

Gameplay is very engaging and immersive

Tactical missions are generally long, and the player’s modest force of six police officers is vastly outnumbered. This isn’t Call of Duty — running in with guns blazing from moment one isn’t going to work. Thus, stealthy maneuvering is necessary. As your force is more like a civilian militia than an actual police department, they don’t have access to the same resources the traditional, corrupt police officers other titles in this franchise do, so the player will have to struggle a bit in the beginning and amass what they need to succeed. There is a real sense of vulnerability in the beginning of the game, which gives the game the edge it needs to be engaging.

The story progression is fairly decent

Unfortunately, Weappy Studio has an inconsistent history trying to tell a good story. The story is very bland and barebones in this game, but that should be viewed as a good thing. Simply put, the player performs a mission, the story progresses. Characters around the town of Ripton react to the work the player’s officers do. Town civilians will get angry if the player’s officers kill unarmed civilians or fail to help them out. The enemies will react to the advancement of the player’s officers with enhanced security as they progress through the game and become more of a threat. The world in this game feels relatively interactive and immersive as a result.

There are save points for missions!

Got to go to work in an hour, want to get some quick playtime in, but can’t afford to spend too long on a lengthy mission? Good news, Rebel Cops has you covered. Depending on the difficulty mode the player chooses, they will be allotted a certain amount of saves throughout each mission that can serve as ‘checkpoints’. When you have to head to work, simply save the game, go to work, then when you come back, you can pick up right where you left off.

In 2021, this positive seems bizarre considering video games have been doing that for the last twenty years. Well, in “This Is the Police 2”, tactical missions did not have save options. If you had to leave in the middle of a mission, you either had to leave the game on or turn the game off and lose all of your progress. So it was good to see this game hammer that down.

This game is here for a good time, not so much a long one

This game is also a good, cheap thrill. Currently, it costs $4.99 on mobile and $10 on console. In return, expect to get at least 20 hours out of it, perhaps more if you play through it more than once. A cheap game giving that type of value is refreshing in an era where games have started to cost north of $70 with paid DLC and larger preorder bundles that cost even more.

Now, here’s what the game didn’t do so well:

The rescue mission sequence of Allardice/Boone

About a third of the way in, the game will report that the player’s officers, James Allardice and Lionel Boone, were playing kickball when they were ambushed and kidnapped by enemy thugs. The player must then decide which one to rescue.

So, the game arbitrarily takes away two officers from the player. And when they go to rescue one guy?
The game will tell the player that whomever they didn’t choose first got ‘fed to a giant anaconda’ and killed.

Overall, taking player resources away for narrative effect is poor game design. But this is even worse; at least games that do that, like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, include a decent story — along with eventually returning said resources to the player. 

Here, it feels like Weappy Studios slaps the player in the face. They came up with the most ridiculous cause of death possible and punished the player for… doing nothing.

This was a drop of the ball for them for sure. If the player had been allowed to rescue both officers, that could’ve been fine enough. Maybe even make it an optional set of missions — the player could decide that those two officers, even if they are among the best officers the player gets in the game, are expendable and continue playing the game. They could decide that the time and resources rescuing both of them would be worthwhile. Either way, this could’ve given the player some say in how the story unfolded, which would’ve been great. Instead, we got this.

Missions are a little too long

Particularly lengthy gameplay, as we see during the game’s Estate and Casino missions, is generally viewed as a flaw. Per Time Magazine, the average human’s attention span has shrunk by over 25% since the year 2006. That means that short and sweet is the way to go.

It would’ve been far better if there were more missions that were shorter. Per PlayStation Achievements, the average playthrough of the Estate mission is just shy of four hours per person to have completed it! That is just ridiculous. 

Fortunately, the gameplay is pretty decent, which stops this flaw from being particularly ugly. Still, when a game starts to tire its player base out in the early game, that’s not good. 

Unlike usual, there is one point to address about this game. It is truly difficult to say whether this is objectively good, bad, or neither, so it’s best to say this is incredibly polarizing:

The game’s ending

The first game’s ending was remarkably poor. The second game’s ending was quite decent. Here, Goldilocks, this ending isn’t too hot nor cold, it’s… This. Spoilers.

After finally kidnapping the main antagonist, Viktor Zuev, the Rebel Cops begin to drive him back into town, to deliver him to our good pal Jack Boyd, the Sheriff of Sharpwood. However, they’re stopped in the middle of nowhere by a large squad of police officers of Sharpwood. Then, none other than Jack himself gives the order for the officers to fire at will, slaughtering all of our beloved Rebel Cops then and there.

So, just like that, we’re left feeling how we did at the end of the first game. What was the point? There’s no closure, no remotely happy ending, our valiant crew of Robin Hoods who risked their lives protecting the city from these evil mobsters just get slaughtered like pigs.

However, it’s not so simple. In doing this, the game leaves off the series on a cliffhanger. The main menu of the game will be redesigned, showing a picture of Jack at his desk, back turned to the camera, with a map of a place called “Ginerisburg” hung up on the wall behind him and a golden nameplate reading “Warren Nash – Sheriff” at his desk.

In the beginning, Jack Boyd was this relatable, flawed, enjoyable protagonist who was easy to get behind. In the second game, he shifted to being a one dimensional asshole who took part in some seriously shady practices. Here in Rebel Cops, he has full turned into a villain, a corrupt police chief who the player should definitely hate after what he did in this game.

The ending feels abrupt and poorly thought out. And if you didn’t play either of the first two games, you are very much in the right to feel that way. To have any sort of appreciation for this game’s ending requires you to have played the first two games. Even then, the lack of closure and an overwhelming feeling of “was it worth it?” can be a turn off. That’s why it’s so difficult to truly say whether or not this game’s ending was bad.

Overall, the game deserves a grade of a B. It’s nothing special, but it’s a fun time that’s pretty cheap. It is a spin off after all, so this grade isn’t too surprising. For how cheap it is, I’d recommend this game to anyone who needs something to do and has time to kill. Buy it and enjoy.

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