Want to turn a green lane into a brown lane, tow a Gulaschkanone across a snowy field, or roam the Western Desert trashing Axis airfields? Get a 4×4. Want quick introductions to games of interest to realism relishers and old fogies? Read a 3×3. Prior to penning one of these articles I’ll play three tempting titles for at least three hours each. While it would be cavalier to call the reports that result from such brief auditions ‘reviews’, it’s conceivable they might lead to more prolonged playtests, and prompt or prevent the odd purchase.

Police Simulator: Patrol Officers

You’re nicked, Police Simulator: Patrol Officers! Having studied FFF Bayern’s* eligibility criteria, I’m charging you with obtaining state funds under false pretences. While the three hours I’ve just spent pounding the beat, sorting out RTAs, and punishing speeders and thoughtless parkers, passed agreeably enough, nothing I saw while carrying out my first few shifts in the fictional city of Brighton screamed – or even whispered – “Germany or the European Economic Area”.

* Conveniently, Wolfgang Emmir, the CEO of Aesir, Police Sim’s developer, is a voting member on the committee that decides which projects get FFF Bayern funding.

Brighton’s fabric, vehicles, laws, and public servants bring to mind the USA much more readily than they bring to mind Munich, Aesir’s home.

As a new flatfoot finding his flat feet in the one neighbourhood that’s accessible at the start of the campaign, one of the first offences I found myself dealing with was drinking alcohol in a public place – not exactly a frowned-upon activity in Bavaria.

In between ticketing automobiles parked on expired meters (very rare street furniture in Deutschland) and calling up tow trucks to remove vehicles obstructing bus stops (pretty satisfying, if I’m honest) I also reprimanded a few Brightonians for jaywalking – another offence more apt for Austin than Augsburg.

Probably aware that armchair cops won’t tolerate such trivialities for long, the devs spice-up humdrum duties by throwing in ‘suspicious behaviours’ now and again. The fact that the geezer you just knuckle-rapped for littering, refuses to make eye contact and has pupils the size of Pontefract cakes, gives you a legitimate excuse to frisk him, perhaps discovering a more serious offence in the process.

Early on, these chance collars, and post-shift, XP-related equipment and area unlocks, help keep things stimulating. The player quickly progresses from glorified traffic warden to quick-drawing radargunslinger to proud patrol car driver. The rapid rate at which crimes and responsibilities escalate, imply that you’re going to be truncheoning and tasing perps, and exchanging lead with bank robbers in no time at all, however Aesir’s squeamish approach to violence means the aggro elevator actually stops abruptly at Floor 2 – rugby tackles.

Although Brightonians seem uncommonly fond of switch blades (yesterday I attended a road accident in which all three of the cars involved were driven by individuals toting knives) no-one shows any desire to use them.

Are gamers likely to encounter the seedier, sadder, and more controversial sides of real-life policing in PSPO? I doubt it.  I’ve yet to run into anyone that is homeless, mentally ill, or seriously hostile or distressed. Join the BPD and you’re guaranteed never to experience fear, horror, pity, or disgust in the line of duty, or have to scrub blood or vomit from your uniform at the end of a long shift.

* * *


Anyone who finds the idea of a by-the-book policing sim appealing but the concept of a drawable but, for all intents and purposes, unfireable video game pistol perturbing probably needs SWAT 4: Gold Edition in their life.

Fail to give gun-clutching ne’er-do-wells a chance to surrender in this £8 Rainbow Six-reminiscent tactical shooter, and in-game scorers will rebuke your ruthlessness with potentially ruinous victory point deductions. This civilised approach together with hard-to-distinguish, not always cooperative bystanders, makes working your way through SWAT 4’s depressingly believable campaign a memorable experience.

Outlawed in Police Sim, the use of fists is almost obligatory here. Because a blow can turn a troublesome ‘civilian’ into a meek, cuffable, one very quickly, the SWAT 4 player often ends up employing an odd mix of chivalry and thuggery. Hostiles that fail to respond to strongly worded entreaties get lead storms. Innocent bystanders (?) that don’t play ball get physical chastisement or a squirt of pepper spray.

Although it’s impossible to predict exactly what a foe will do when challenged, if that foe has just been winged or seen one of his buddies kick the bucket, generally there’s a greater chance he will capitulate or leg it rather than open fire. Obviously, the recently flashbanged, CS gassed, bean-bagged, or stingered, are especially receptive to surrender requests.

Naturalistic AI, warren-like locales, random foe spawns, and a dizzying variety of potential load-outs, mean it’s possible to play a level dozens of times without getting bored of it.

Sierra didn’t provide an R6-style planning mode, but in lieu we get a no-nonsense crosshairs-linked team orders menu that makes delegating tasks such as recon, room clearing, and covering, awfully easy.

SWAT 4 shipped without iron sights (pressing Z merely magnified the view of your floating crosshairs). One of many excellent reasons to download this fine mod is that it lets you peer down gun barrels. Users of the indispensable Elite Force overhaul also get honed AI, a host of extra weapons and additional orders, and support for a much broader range of resolutions.

* * *

Contraband Police

Dear Mitko,

Greetings from the back of beyond! Contrary to expectations the life of a border guard in the Democratic Republic of Acaristan is far from dull. Every day we do battle (sometimes literally!) with smugglers and criminal gangs.

I spend most of a typical shift scrutinising passports, searching vehicles for contraband, and checking cargo manifests, but there are road trips and the occasional firefight with local hoodlums too.

From time to time the scallywags we lock-up in our poky pokey need to be dropped off at the nearby labour camp, and the narcotics, hooch, etc we confiscate must be delivered to the police warehouse.

I also use our Azar minibus to do regular trips to Vlad’s store to buy tools, weaponry, and ammo. Such runs aren’t risk-free. Ambushes mounted by the gangs whose shipments we disrupt, aren’t unknown.

Although tip-offs pinned to the post’s notice board help us spot potential lawbreakers, and the thought of financial penalties keeps us on our toes, the gentle pressure to keep traffic moving combined with the plethora of things we have to watch out for does lead to the odd blunder. Despite our best efforts, travellers with dodgy paperwork or concealed items do manage to slip through.

You won’t be surprised to hear that facilities here are positively primitive and the only way they are likely to improve is if we invest in them ourselves. I have plans to upgrade my digs and purchase some items that will make our work a little easier and safer, but earning the necessary funds will take time. Colleagues tell me there’s money to be made trading hard-to-get goods with passing motorists, but I’ve yet to try my hand at that.

As this message is being hand-delivered and will, I know, be consigned to your woodburner once it has been read, I feel I can tell you that it’s not just work matters that have been on my mind of late. Without going into detail, during the course of my duties here I have stumbled on something – or rather someone – who has caused me to question things I knew, or thought I knew, about our government and country. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the knowledge I’ve gained, but putting it to one side and doggedly ploughing on really isn’t an option.

Adventure beckons. I hope I’m sufficiently strong and quick-thinking to survive it! Give my love to Cristina and the boys.

All the best,



  1. The Fourth of July this year.
    An ordinary day of no significance either side of the Pond.

    On that day World of Guns: Gun Disassembly would be expected to give free access to US-made firearms, such as the Gyrojet mentioned in an earlier A-Z (P is for Preposterous pistol projectiles):

    I plan on tinkering with the Clockwork Basilisk / Collier Flintlock.

    (Just by logging-in daily you should be able to amass ~37,000 free XP)

  2. I hadn’t heard of Contraband Police before. Looks like a really fun and unique game, like Papers Please, but with more than just papers.

    I see it has a demo too. Thanks for this!

  3. I distinctly recall having to bribe small metallic parking restriction enforcers with 50 pfennig pieces to prevent them calling down the wrath of their human counterparts.

    Perhaps Emmir is playing a blinder here and can easily counter false accusations of corruption by pointing out that being arrested would indeed deliver a computer game driven German policing experience.

  4. That 3×3 reminded me that I’m curious about a game called The Precinct. It is not available yet, the release date is planned for the 16th of August 2024
    Link to Steam page: https://store.steampowered.com/app/490110/The_Precinct/

    I also found two others games that are not related to the police theme, but could be of interest for the cornerites:

    One is called Sicaria. It is free and is available now on Steam:

    The other was just annonced but is not available yet. It is called PVKK: Planetenverteidigungskanonenkommandant. It is a really curious game.
    The steam page is here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2956040/PVKK_Planetenverteidigungskanonenkommandant/

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