When This is The Police 2 first hit the streets, many were singing its praises. But at the same time, just as many were complaining that the title in question was full of filler, as the tun-based strategy sections were truly, few and far between. With the just released Rebel Cops, the studio behind the title seeks to redeem itself, as the spinoff to the This is The Police series, is all about the turn-based strategy, which many felt were so sorely missing from the mainline titles.
Rebel Cops cuts straight to the chase, right from the get go. There are no lengthy cutscenes, or any other introductions. You select to start a new game, then the difficulty and after reading a brief outline of the story, you get dropped straight into the gameplay.
At the very beginning, Rebel Cops does very little to impress you. As in comparison to titles such as X-Com, Mutant Year Zero, or Phantom Doctrine, it comes across as rather limited and while it grows, as you play along, it never really reaches the complexity of its contemporaries. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, because ultimately, Rebel Cops aims to be a vastly different experience.
In games such as Phantom Doctrine, you are usually dropped into small, borderline claustrophobic environments and are forced to achieve your objectives, within a rather rigid structure. Within Rebel Cops though, you will often be faced with much more open and expansive environments, which will present you with a much wider array of options. So while Rebel Cops may not possess an abundance of underlying mechanics such as X-Com, then it does offer you a much more flexible, and more importantly, immersive experience.
Each level within Rebel Cops may feature as little as one objective, or as many as three – or even more. And while the game never tells you which objectives are vital to success, then it is rather ultimately rather easy to figure out what you have to do in order to succeed. For the most part, you can approach each and every level in any way you desire. You want to be a lawful cop, and arrest all you deem to be dangerous? – go ahead; you want to kill everybody who gets in your way? – knock yourself out. But, do you want to kill the main target of the missions, who has just killed one of your officers? – no can do.
As you might have already figured it out, Rebel Cops is all about police men who work outside of the law. However, those rebels are not as rebellious as the title would like you to think, because certain missions force you to complete them in a very specific way. The first actual mission of the entire experience, which has you stop a train in order to get your hands on a mobster who happens to be on-board, is the best example of this.
The above outlined mission, features an objective ‘Arrest XYZ’. After spending a good 30 minutes within the level, you will finally come to a point where you will be close enough to him in order to apprehend him. However, he happens to be a dead-eye, so the second one of my officers got within his line of sight, he got domed twice – dying instantly. So understandably, I went ‘I’m gonna dome him too’; but the second I put him down, I got hit with a ‘Mission Failed’ screen. So at that point I clearly understood that Rebel Cops allows you to kill innocent security guards, but despite of its title, disallows you from killing genuine criminals.
Sure, if the developers were to allow you to just kill every single target, the game would probably be too easy, but the overall lack of choice feels a little disappointing to say the least. However, despite of the inability to complete the in-game missions in different ways, Rebel Cops is a rather solid title, which does justice to the mainline series from which it originates. The title’s visuals are a clear winner in this instance, as Rebel Cops is simply stunning, despite its rather simplistic, 2.5D art style.
Visuals and gameplay are not the only strong points of Rebel Cops, as the audio side of things is also rather great. What elevates this particular title to the next level, is its use of the DualShock 4 speaker, which while in-game, relays all the audio cues from your officers to you as if it was a genuine Police radio. And in all honesty, Rebel Cops is the first game, probably since launch of PlayStation 4, which makes good use of the controller’s speaker; mainly because it does not only add to the immersion, but it also makes it a useful tool, which eases the gameplay ever so slightly.
Rebel Cops in many ways improves upon the This is The Police series. However, it is nowhere near as robust or complex as the latest instalment, This is The Police 2. This mainly stems from the fact that Rebel Cops is devoid of any audio narration, or complex animated cutscenes. Once you get into the thick of things, and start jumping from one mission the next, it is easy to get lost in the story, as one press of the X button, can, and will skip an entire arc of the narrative.
When it comes to the core gameplay, as mentioned previously, Rebel Cops allows you to approach your missions in as many ways as you desire. This is mainly due to the fact that the title in question features an abundance of tools, and abilities, which allow you to alter the core gameplay on the fly. If you desire to play a lawful cop down on its luck, you can refer to tazers, blackjacks, and non-lethal shots in arms and legs. If you refer to those, you can easily arrest not just your mainline targets, but also all the other additional hostiles. On top of that, you can also hold up your adversaries, but just like everything in Rebel Cops, hold ups are not 100% bulletproof; meaning that you can risk holding up an enemy, but if you fail, you lose a turn, and risk losing your cop the next turn.
If peace is not to your liking, Rebel Cops has an answer to that too. As the title features a wide range of firearms, protective gear, tools, and ammunition and while early on, acquiring those will not be a problem, then it has to be underlined that the in-game economy is not your friend and you should always spend wisely and at times, even conservatively.
The vast majority of in-game items is perishable and this means that you can run out of ammo, you can lose your helmets, body armor and lockpicks, plus medkits, once used, are gone forever. So it is wise to tailor your officers towards specific roles such as armored-up, shotgun wielding enforcer, a spy-like class with just a tazer, combat baton, and flash-bangs and lastly, a medic. While the initial learning curve of Rebel Cops may be a little steep, then the more you concentrate on your characters, the easier it will become, but due to the title’s open and diverse level design, you will never find yourself at a point where you will be just steamrolling past all the missions.
Lethal force, while fun, should always be the very last resort, because ultimately, Rebel Cops is at its best when you don’t try to gun your way through its levels. And yes, just like in all the other turn based strategy games, you can quick save and quick load, at your desire. But doing so, is not the only way to undo your mistakes, as Rebel Cops features additional abilities such as the sniper support, which in a last ditch effort can save one of your wounded operatives who is being zeroed in on, or scope out, in every sense of the word, buildings which are out of your officers’ reach.
All of the above is outlined to you within the first hour or so, as Rebel Cops does a great job at explaining to you all of its inner workings and while walls of text may not appeal to all, then if you are planning on picking Rebel Cops up, you should most definitely read every text pop-up which appears on your screen; as those detail everything from the in-game economy, through to the ground operations, all the way down to tips and tricks which you can use to turn the tide of battle in your favor.
Overall, Rebel Cops feels more like an expansion, rather than a full release. While it does miss many of the more complex features of This is The Police, then it does feature a much more enjoyable pacing and a level of thrill and excitement which was missing from the series – thus far. If you have enjoyed This is The Police, but weren’t a fan of all the micromanagement, and other auxiliary nonsense, then Rebel Cops is a game made just for you and if it were to feature fully animated cutscenes and a little more fleshed-out narrative, then it could have possibly gone down as one of the greatest indie games of this generation. But even with those features removed, or rather under-cooked, it is still a great game, even if you take into consideration the slight grammatical mistakes which the title features.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Rebel Cops Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Rebel Cops is what many wanted This is The Police to be, even if it does feel a little light on extra content.