People have been playing cops and robbers in some form for centuries. The best police games for PC let you cross that thin blue line from the comfort of home, without hitting the academy. It’s a genre that hasn’t seen a lot of love over the years, but we found five titles that let you live the cop life in a variety of ways.
|The immersive story is set in 1940s Los Angeles.
|It has a campaign mode where every decision matters.
|SWAT 4: Gold Edition
|The game has intense action in a variety of settings.
|This Is the Police
|You can manage a police force with good and bad decisions.
|There is bone-breaking action set in Hong Kong.
#1. L.A. Noire
Rockstar Games has produced a lot of memorable titles over the years, like the GTA franchise and Red Dead II. The best police game we’ve played was released by the developer back in 2011, and L.A. Noire is still worth your time more than a decade later.
L.A. Noire puts players in the shoes of Cole Phelps, a patrol officer in the LAPD. The game is set in 1947 and brings a unique approach to gameplay. It’s a third-person game with an open world that’s free to roam, and your goal is to crack cases in the City of Angels. You’ll do this through interrogations, along with good old-fashioned police work.
While L.A. Noire is largely a linear game, the storyline is engrossing and the motion-capture still holds up well today. The city is just as much of a star of the game as the characters themselves in L.A. Noire. Rockstar’s world feels alive whether you’re searching for clues or off-duty tearing through L.A. in a Chevrolet Fleetmaster.
L.A. Noire arrived to critical acclaim when it debuted and still has one of Rockstar’s best storylines to date. That’s impressive given their catalog, and while the game isn’t as deep as others on our list, there is a VR edition that puts a virtual spin on the game.
|It has a great storyline with fantastic acting and memorable characters.
|Your actions can feel a bit empty.
|It offers unique gameplay mechanics like interrogations.
|It’s not as “open” as other Rockstar Games.
|The game has low system requirements.
|The Complete Edition includes all previously released DLC.
#2. Door Kickers
Tactical games are a great fit for the cop genre, and Door Kickers certainly fits that bill. This classic was put out by Killhouse back in 2014 and has achieved a considerable following since that time. The gameplay is comparable to SWAT, although you’ll take a birds-eye view of the action and your team.
Door Kickers is a real-time strategy game with a tactical design. Each level is broken down into three stages where you’ll need to plan, deploy, and engage. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell what’s behind locked doors and around every corner. It’s the type of game where you can lose half your squad in seconds, so it pays to proceed with caution.
You control a team of 10 SWAT members in Door Kickers, and each is customizable. That makes losing a team member harder, especially when you’ve leveled up the character. The main portion of the game has a half-dozen campaigns where you can permanently lose team members. That’s not the case in every mode, however, and the game has full modding support along with a level editor.
There’s something for everyone in Door Kickers, whether you like tactical games or titles with permadeath. It’s hands-down the most frustrating game I’ve played from our list, and not something you can tear through with abandon. You’ll want to plan each door kicking accordingly, or your team will pay the price.
|It has tactical gameplay.
|It’s not an easy game for beginners.
|You have a customizable team.
|It may feel a bit repetitive.
|Your decisions actually matter.
|It has full modding support.
#3. SWAT 4: Gold Edition
You can be in the police force without ever having to use your weapon, but that isn’t the case if you’re SWAT. When you want to see what it’s like to tactically take down criminals that can take you out, SWAT 4 should be high on your list.
SWAT 4 is the second first-person shooter game in the SWAT franchise. In the game, you control a squad and send them into a range of situations, including some casino action. It’s not a hardcore shooter like Call of Duty, so you’ll need to follow procedure like previous games in the series. The mechanics are deep and authentic. That means you can peek under doors, free hostages, and pop plenty of rounds in more than a dozen missions.
The layout can feel overwhelming if you’re new to the series or to this type of game. Once you get a handle on things, you’ll appreciate the attention to detail and features like PIP. The game also has a solid arsenal. There’s a nice selection of weapons to choose from, including assault rifles and handguns along with non-lethal devices like Tasers.
It’s not perfect, but SWAT 4 is a blast to play with intense action and the replay factor is excellent. Mission maker is a bonus, and so is Co-op mode or online multiplayer. Despite the fact it was released in 1995, you can still pop a flashbang and sink hours into this tactical game.
|The gameplay gets intense.
|The game’s graphics can seem dated.
|The hostage and suspect positions are random.
|Your teammates’ AI could be better.
|There is a wealth of weapons and missions.
|The replay factor is excellent.
#4. This Is the Police
Another tactical game that’s a fan favorite and among the best police games for PC is This Is the Police. It’s a title you can play across multiple platforms with a rich storyline and intense real-time gameplay across isometric maps.
While still a tactical game, This is the Police takes a different approach than SWAT to taking down bad guys. Your decisions matter, but you play the Chief of Police, Jack Boyd, who’s headed into retirement. Jack has to manage a city on the brink before he checks out, but also needs to pull in $500,000 in 180 days while on the job.
The storyline is a big part of the game, and while we won’t spoil it, it’s not a tale of a noble brotherhood in blue. As Jack, you have to manage your crew of cops, send them to calls, and deal with the consequences. This is the Police is a game of decisions, including the ability to look the other way or use questionable interrogation techniques.
This is the Police has received mixed reviews, but it’s definitely one of the best police games for PC and popular enough to get a sequel and spin-off. The gameplay won’t be for everyone, but the art style, and voice acting are top-notch. It’s a police game that can run on any PC thanks to low system requirements, and available on other platforms as well.
|The game has an interesting plot and unique gameplay.
|It can feel repetitive.
|It has a distinct visual style.
|Sim-management games aren’t for everyone.
|It’s easy to pick up and play.
|The voice acting is top-notch.
#5. Sleeping Dogs
If you’ve never heard of the other police games on our list, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of this one. Sleeping Dogs was a hit when it arrived on consoles in 2012 and it puts an international spin on the cop genre.
As Wei Shen, you play a police officer who has to walk the line between cop and criminal. The game is set in Hong Kong with a storyline that’s as immersive as the setting. The world of Sleeping Dogs feels alive and is still impressive with a high-powered PC. It’s also an action-packed game where you can stop crime in interesting ways.
Combat is one of the big draws of Sleeping Dogs where your fists and feet can be as effective as a firearm. There are plenty of those, even if they aren’t always easy to acquire. There are skill trees for both the Triad and Cops, but your decisions have an impact on the game. That’s due to your Face Rating, one of the many unique aspects of this game.
Sleeping Dogs is one of those games where you don’t want to give too much away for people who haven’t experienced it. It’s a wild ride, and things get intense in Hong Kong. Whether you’re hijacking a ride, singing karaoke, or breaking bones, there’s something for everyone in this exhilarating police game. The original version is no longer available on Steam, but you can typically find the Definitive Edition at a deep discount.
|The game’s setting and storyline are immersive.
|It plays better with a controller than a keyboard and mouse.
|There is a deep combat system.
|You’ll be bummed there’s not a sequel.
|It’s full of memorable characters.
|There is a wide range of missions and abilities.
More of the Best Police Games for PC
The five games we chose are fan favorites, but there are more great police games for PC on platforms like Steam. The oldest is the Police Quest Collection, which spawned the SWAT franchise. This game takes players back to the 80s and puts an interesting perspective on things today. Especially considering it was used for training purposes back in the day.
Police Simulator takes a more modern approach while allowing you to live out the daily routine of a cop. While you’ll start by handing out parking tickets, you get to break up drug buys along with minor crimes like tagging. The game has three districts to patrol, and the graphics are surprisingly sharp. If you prefer pixelated graphics, consider Beat Cop.
Beat Cop is a retro-inspired adventure game with a humorous storyline. It feels like a cop movie from the 80s, complete with all the themes that were popular in the decade. Ready or Not is a tactical game in the vein of SWAT but with better graphics and a completely different vibe. We’re also fans of Rebel Cops, the aptly named spin-off from the This is the Police franchise.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Arsenii Palivoda/Shutterstock.com.