The structure is dead simple. You choose from one of several preset cops and are tasked with choosing your shift. At first, your options are few. You plop your cop into a district and then start your shift. Each shift lasts a standard workday that ticks down as you go about your business. At first, you’re notably limited and have to walk around on foot looking for traffic violations. If you’re not into the minutiae of that, this is not the game for you.
For each shift, a specific task will net you more points for the day. Your goal is to get these points up as high as possible, all the while not making mistakes that lower a separate pool of points. For instance, the first shift gave me bonus points for writing parking tickets. You can write these for expired licenses, expired parking meters (even though that’s actually a separate job altogether,) parking in no-parking zones, or blocking fire hydrants.
Yes, you can write tickets for people going one mile over the speed limit. You jerk.
In classic sim fashion, you’re punished for errors. For instance, if you ticket a car for something that it didn’t do, you’ll lose some points. As such, you very much want to do your job by the book. There’s more to Police Simulator: Patrol Officers than writing tickets, though. Even within that umbrella, you can call tow trucks to move cars, which also gives you points if warranted (you’ll always want to tow those cars in front of hydrants.) You can also stop and detain every single NPC out in the world. That kind of sounds like a whole can of worms. There’s a surprising amount of stuff here, considering.
As you gain new points, you’ll rank up and unlock new areas to patrol, plus new features. Early on, you’ll unlock a radar gun, which doesn’t quite work like a real one. Finding that a car is driving over the speed limit automatically takes a photo of its license plate if it’s visible. Later, you’ll unlock a patrol car that you can drive around, but only once you unlock all areas within a district. There are some issues, though. Sometimes I got penalized even when I did things correctly. Writing a ticket for a car parked on the sidewalk was met with me being told that wasn’t the case. But it’s Early Access, after all.
The biggest issue I have is that there’s no saving in the middle of a shift. You have to do it in one go. If you have a crash or something, you’ll have to start that shift over. I wish there were autosaves or checkpoints. Also, if you get injured before the day ends, the whole shift is forfeit, which is annoying. One time I finished a shift and, on my way back to the station, didn’t look both ways before crossing a street, which got me hit by a car. Had to start that one again.
But Police Simulator: Patrol Officers looks and plays pretty well, considering. The textures are high resolution and the models aren’t as janky as they are in similar games. Most everything works well. At 1440p I was able to consistently hover around 50-60 FPS on a midrange card too, so the performance is actually kind of solid. If you’re part of the target audience for this game, I’d honestly say that, yes, it’s worth it. It’s perfectly playable and has a solid loop that I think enthusiasts will enjoy.