Title: Police Stories
Developer: Mighty Morgan
Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Genre: Shooter, Action, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 19/09/19
Price: £13.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Police Stories introduces the player to a tale of two police officers – John Rimes and Rick Jones – who take to the streets to infiltrate gang hideouts, arrest criminals, and rescue hostages from dangerous situations.
Upon starting police stories there two modes to play: single-player and co-op. If you select the Single Player option you will play through 18 missions, each with a prime objective to complete. Those objectives will commonly include either arrest or subdue any criminals that may be in the immediate vicinity, as well as collecting all available evidence to get a perfect rank or score to progress. This is a lot harder than you might expect though. This game is no walk in the park and you can expect a serious challenge that crosses the line into unfair and frustrating territory.
After selecting a mission, you’ll get a brief description detailing your prime objectives, how many suspects need to be detained and the current difficulty for this mission. As well as this, pertinent information on the current case will also be shared. Here, you can select 3 key items to take on your mission – unlockable as you progress – and you can either select previous items or choose new ones.
Each of these items has their own limited supply; once they’re used up on a mission, there’s no way to replenish them. Some of the items are:
+ Flash-bangs which stun enemies for few seconds;
+ Lock-pick which can unlock most doors;
+ Pepper spray which causes confusion and disorientation.
Controlling your character is easy, with movement available via the analogue stick: push it in to sprint for a short while. You can also 360-degree aim with the right analogue stick and then shoot with ZR. To control your buddy you’ll need to press and hold the ZL trigger and use the analogue stick to move a red reticule around the area. You can touch doors, objects and areas of interest, like evidence for example.
An action wheel will appear allowing you to give orders to either collect, open, or fire on enemies. Pressing the A button will allow you to tell your partner to either walk to a location, pick up evidence or even unlock a door and throw a flash-bang. You can also ask him to cover an area meaning if he sees any enemies drawing their guns he will open fire straight away. There are a plethora of options available and ensure there is a reliance upon one another to succeed in the mission.
Out of sight
During missions, you’ll need to search each room by carefully opening doors and moving around corners slowly. All the enemies are invisible until a door is opened and your flashlight fills the room. Once an enemy has become visible if you leave the room the enemy will remain as a red shadow for a brief time to show you their last location. The same applies to hostages, only they are highlighted green. This makes entering rooms dangerous as enemies will open fire on you without hesitation and a single shot will kill you or your partner. Thankfully the game has a quick restart, so dying isn’t a problem and restarting is quick and easy.
One thing you’ll notice about Police Stories is that this game is extremely challenging and, at times, unfair. For some reason, every enemy is a crack shot and when they hit you, it is always an instant headshot. This is a little unrealistic to think that every single criminal is a weapon specialist.
During missions, you are scored on all types of actions you take during each run. For example, picking up evidence and arresting criminals instead of shooting them – or shooting them as soon as they pull a gun on you. Every action will reward you with points and itis these points that will allow you to unlock new missions. Each mission requires a certain amount of points to be earned on a previous mission to unlock the next. If you don’t get the required score you need, you won’t unlock the next level and you’ll be required to replay that level again until you receive a better rank.
While this is a great way to extend the play-time of Police Stories, it can become incredibly repetitive having to play the same mission over and over again. I must have played the same level more than 20 times before I eventually got the score I needed to move on. It was definitely frustrating at first but I did learn how to approach missions better by repeating them.
The saving grace here is the local co-op which is a great feature to play with a friend. All missions you’ve unlocked up to that point are available to you, as well as items. You pick a colour and then start the mission. I tried playing the co-op part with the joy-cons turned on their side, and it proved to be a rather interesting experience as it uses the motion controls. There’s an issue here as they aren’t as precise as they could be and we found progressing became quite difficult. I found using the Pro controller to be a better experience for both of us.
It’s fun to play with your friends but the game can still be frustrating as it’s very unforgiving – even for novice players.
My biggest issue with Police Stories is the awful AI of your partner. He is completely useless, sometimes walking right into a trap or not firing a single shot. If you try asking him to cover an area, he will end up facing a wall or corner. It’s a shame because when it works it feels great but most of the time you’re better off letting him die so you don’t have to deal with his incompetence.
Graphically, Police Stories is quite gritty and realistic. The little details like rain, blood splatter and gunfire sounds really punchy. I particularly like the light cone from your torch-light when your exploring different levels as it acts and reflects quite realistically which is pretty cool. The in-game cut-scenes are decent too.
The sound effects are great. The ability to shout “GET DOWN NOW” or “HANDS UP” with the action buttons and sounds coming from the Switch speakers in handheld mode sound good. While some of Police Stories music is decent to listen to, there are some tracks that are less than stellar.
I like Police Stories – it reminds me of Hotline Miami but I feel that this has a lot less flow to it. The game requires you to perform perfectly for the best possible score otherwise you’ll be unable to continue which can lead to a lot of frustration. Plus, I don’t really like the instant death shots from every enemy in the game as that single shot can ruin a decent run, and the less talk about the AI the better.
That being said, even though the game is unforgiving, challenging and has its issues there is still a lot to like here. The quick restart option allows you to get straight back into the action without having to wait for long loading times, and I do like the option to co-op locally with a friend. When missions go well it can make you feel like you’re a real cop which is superb.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Police Stories from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Police-Stories-1575421.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.