Many of us have fantasies about joining the police force when we’re kids. We think of the police as bringing in the bad guys, stopping society from falling apart, and keeping all of us safe at night. Of course, the reality is much more complicated than that, as we’ve learned recently, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for good police simulator games to teach us about the realities of policing or just plain fun experiences in which you play as a police officer. Are you ready to discover the best police simulator games to play? Below, we reveal the best to play right now!
- Initial Release Date: Not Applicable (Mod for existing game)
- Platforms: PC (Mod for “Grand Theft Auto V”)
At number one, we have GTA V modded with LSPDFR, which stands for “Los Santos Police Department First Responder,” which is a mod for the popular game “Grand Theft Auto V” (GTA V). It is one of the most well-known and comprehensive police simulation mods available, transforming the world of GTA V into a police officer’s playground. Below, I’ll detail the primary features and functionalities of this mod:
– Roleplay as a police officer
You’re probably used to committing both petty and significant crimes in Grand Theft Auto, but the genius of LSPDFR is that it lets you see things from the other side. Being a police officer in the GTA universe can’t be easy, but now, you’ll get to see just how difficult it can be.
– Visit police stations
While you’re conducting your police duties, you can head into police stations in order to get yourself geared up, start a patrol, or even process suspects you’ve arrested. After all, you’ve got to have a base of operations in a city as rife with crime as Los Santos, right?
– Drive customised police vehicles
The police in Grand Theft Auto Online get access to specific customised vehicles, so you don’t have to drive regular everyday cars. Naturally, you can drive the regular ol’ patrol cars you’re probably familiar with (and that you’ve probably blown up to no end), as well as police motorcycles and SWAT vans. While you’re driving these vehicles, you can stop traffic, chase criminals, and call in backup if you think things are getting too hairy.
– Dynamically interact with NPCs
Don’t think that your job as a police officer in GTA Online is limited to the above. You can also engage in special interactions with NPCs, including asking them for ID, frisking them for weapons and contraband, and even arresting them. These arrests aren’t simple affairs, either; you might just need to cuff a pedestrian, true, but you might also need to draw your weapon if the situation escalates.
– Respond to callouts
Your duty as a police officer is to respond to people who need your help, and you can, indeed, do this in GTA Online. Callouts might include traffic violations and smaller crimes like that, or they might stretch to robberies, street chases, or any number of other dangerous felonies. What’s more, LSPDFR will regularly throw new random events at you, so you’ll never have the time to get too comfortable.
– Call for backup
Are things getting too tricky for you? Call in backup. Your backup can range from regular officers all the way through to SWAT teams, and you can even issue tactical commands to those units, allowing you to plan your approach for a tricky situation.
– Customise your officer
As you’d probably expect from a game as extensively customisable as GTA V (and GTA Online, naturally), you can customise your officer to your heart’s content in LSPDFR. You can change their uniform, switch out their equipment loadout, and even decide which department you want them to belong to. This is a community-run mod, too, which means that if something isn’t in the game right now, it almost certainly will be in the future.
– Carry out arrests all the way to the end
Not only can you arrest people in LSPDFR, but you can also process those arrests at the station according to which crime the perpetrator has committed. You can then toss them in a cell if the crime warrants jail time.
– Play with other mods
LSPDFR plays nice with other Grand Theft Auto V mods, so you might find that some of the visual or performance upgrades you’ve installed will work just fine alongside this new police roleplaying experience. What’s more, some mods even add to the LSPDFR experience by creating more in-depth radio chatter, better CSI systems, and lots of other improvements.
– Enjoy regular updates
The creators behind LSPDFR are passionate about the project, which means you can look forward to regular updates adding new features to the mod all the time. These updates also generally keep up with newer versions of GTA V and GTA Online in order to ensure long-term compatibility.
LSPDFR offers GTA V players a completely different perspective to the traditional GTA V gameplay, letting them enforce the law rather than break it. The detailed, immersive experience it offers has made it a favorite among the GTA modding community. If you’ve ever wanted to step into the shoes of a police officer within the chaotic and dynamic world of Los Santos, LSPDFR is the mod to explore.
- Initial Release Date: July 27, 2016
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux
Both This Is the Police and its followup, the appropriately-named This Is the Police 2, are worthwhile additions to the police simulator genre. At their core, they’re adventure games with a narrative focus; you play as a sheriff who must manage a police force, sending them out to deal with crimes and dealing with the consequences. Along the way, you’ll uncover a story of corruption, crime, and ordinary people trying to get by in a world that teems with seedy intrigue.
- Initial Release Date: August 14, 2012
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC
- Definitive Edition Release Date: October 2014 (for PC, PS4, Xbox One); March 31, 2016 (for macOS)
Okay, so Sleeping Dogs isn’t really a simulation, per se, but you do play as a police officer in this open-world crime sandbox, so we’re including it. Sleeping Dogs revolves around Wei Shen, a police officer who’s gone undercover as a Triad in order to infiltrate their ranks. Of course, Shen’s loyalties become conflicted when it turns out that his conceptions of reality and morality are flawed, and he must navigate a labyrinth of alliances, friends, enemies, and dangerous situations.
4. 911 Operator
- Initial Release Date: February 24, 2017
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux
If you want to get a taste of life on the other side of law enforcement, then 911 Operator will give you what you need. As you might have guessed from the name, you play as an emergency services phone operator, directing people’s calls and assigning the necessary emergency services to their situations. It’s a tense, difficult game that doesn’t pull any punches, and while it doesn’t quite approach the brilliance of something like Papers, Please, it’s still a great experience.
- Initial Release Date: June 17, 2021
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Looking for a good police simulator? Well, the clue’s right there in the name. Police Simulator: Patrol Officers sends you to the “fictional” city of Brighton (we feel the UK city’s residents would disagree, although this city is in the USA) in order to be a police officer. Deal with crimes, respect the law you’re enforcing, and experience what it’s like to be part of the police on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t a game for glory hunters; rather, it’s for those who want to know what law enforcement really has to offer.
- Initial Release Date: October 2019 (Windows)
- Platforms: Windows, macOS (April 2020), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 (March 2021)
Again, we might be playing fast and loose with the definition of “simulator” here, but in Disco Elysium, you play as a cop who has been on a bender so legendary that he now cannot remember who he is. As you solve a murder case that may be tied to the local political situation, you must gradually piece together who you actually are, aided by several voices in your head that double as the skills with which you navigate the world. It’s as weird, wonderful, and unmissable as it sounds.
7. Beat Cop
- Initial Release Date: March 30, 2017
- Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
This retro-style pixel art adventure might not look much like a realistic police simulator, and that’s because it isn’t. It offers a gritty narrative full of dark, edgy humour, though, as well as gameplay that doesn’t feel a million miles away from the classic Police Quest series of games. This one’s much more violent and bleak, though, so if you want the “essence of 80s cop shows”, as the game’s developers put it, then you should definitely make sure to check this one out.
8. L.A. Noire
- Initial Release Date: May 17, 2011
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
As you’ve probably already guessed from the name, Rockstar’s L.A. Noire is strongly inspired by the classic noir detective story L.A. Confidential. It takes place in postwar Los Angeles and follows police officer Cole Phelps as he rises through the ranks of his organisation, uncovering a sinister plot as he goes. There are some slight missteps, but for the most part, L.A. Noire is a story that’s well worth experiencing, especially if you have any affection for the time period or genre.
- Initial Release Date: September 15, 2006
- Platforms: PC
At one stage, Police Quest games were reportedly used to train rookie officers in proper police procedure, such was their dedication to realism. If you’re in the market for a more arcade-style police experience, then you’re probably going to want to stay away from Police Quest, but as a police simulator game, you really couldn’t get closer to the truth than this. These adventure games may be a little slow and methodical for some, but they’re as immersive as gaming gets, especially for the time.
- Initial Release Date: March 18, 2013
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Lego City Undercover is obviously not an accurate simulation of real police work. After all, you are playing as a man made of Lego. What it lacks in realism, though, it makes up for with a fun, sparky plot, a massive city to explore, and a huge amount of things to collect. If you’ve got kids in your life – or if you’re just looking for an open-world game to pass some time while you listen to a podcast – then Lego City Undercover will more than suffice for that purpose.
11. Ready or Not
- Initial Release Date: December 18, 2021 (Early Access)
- Platforms: PC
Ready or Not is a more intense police simulator than you might be used to. It casts you as a SWAT officer responding to deadly hostage situations, so you’re going to need all of your skill and wits about you if you want to succeed. Together with your friends (or bots if you’d prefer to play alone), you’ll breach a number of locations, look for hostages, and take terrorists down before the situation can get worse. It’s tense and realistic, which makes it an ideal police simulator.
Q. What makes LSPDFR for Grand Theft Auto V stand out among police simulator games?
A. To put it simply, GTA V and GTA Online are some of the most immersive sandbox experiences you’re likely to have in gaming, so when you add a police overlay to that experience, you’re getting an incredibly realistic police simulator. There are very few games that allow you to roleplay as a police officer with quite such exacting attention to detail.
Q. Do I need the base GTA V game to play LSPDFR?
A. Since LSPDFR is a mod, you will indeed need the base Grand Theft Auto V game if you want to play it. If you’re playing GTA V on PC Game Pass, that version should be fine as well, although you should bear in mind that when your subscription runs out, you’ll lose access to GTA V and thus you’ll be unable to play the mod after that point as well.
Q. Can you learn about real police procedures from these police simulators?
A. Well…yes and no. While some police sims, like Sierra’s Police Quest games, emphasise realism, a video game is never going to be able to get you close to the real police experience. Still, some games are more dedicated to approximating that realism than others, so if you’re looking for a game that’s as close as you’re going to get to policing, some of these games will certainly do the trick.
Q. Are there any police simulators suitable for children?
A. Naturally, the name of the game with police simulators is to depict crime and its consequences, so most police sims aren’t suitable for kids. However, Lego City Undercover provides an excellent kid-friendly police sim; it’s an open-world collectathon in which you play as a police officer, so while it might not be a realistic depiction of police work, it’s got everything kids need to have fun.
Q. I’m interested in the investigative aspect of police work. Which game should I play?
A. Your best bet is probably L.A. Noire, a police procedural adventure game from GTA creator Rockstar. It features in-depth crime investigation mechanics and also allows you to question witnesses and suspects, which are two central pillars of the investigative experience. You may also want to consider Disco Elysium, an altogether more off-kilter police game that nonetheless features a surprisingly riveting central mystery.
Q. Is there a game that explores the moral complexities of police work?
A. You’ll generally find that most police games do this to some degree, but perhaps the best game for you if this is the area you’re interested in is Sleeping Dogs. The main character in that game, Wei Shen, is an undercover cop who quickly finds his loyalties tested when he discovers that the morality of his situation is much murkier than he might have anticipated.
Q. Are there any police games that focus on the strategy and management of law enforcement?
A. The game for you if you’re interested in this side of police work is This Is The Police. Both it and its sequel focus more on management than out-and-out action, although its sequel does emphasise tactical combat a little more than the first game does. In fact, This Is The Police is pretty unique among police simulators; most of them revolve around actually conducting police work rather than getting to mastermind the process from behind a desk, so to speak.
Q. Can I play police simulators with friends?
A. Some police simulator games, like the shooter Ready or Not, do feature multiplayer support, although you may find that local couch multiplayer isn’t generally supported by many police sims. In particular, games like Police Quest were designed for a single player, although there’s nothing stopping you from calling some friends round and playing hot seat-style or just enjoying the game together around a single screen.
Q. What if I want a realistic police simulator experience?
A. The aforementioned Ready or Not is definitely the best game for you if you’re looking for a realistic police simulation. It casts you as a SWAT officer dealing with a number of delicate and potentially incendiary hostage situations, and you’ll need to plan your approach carefully while also considering the welfare of the hostages if you want to achieve the best possible result.
Q. How often do police simulator games get updated?
A. This is a very difficult question to answer, because some of these games are much older than others. Mods like LSPDFR, as well as newer games like Ready or Not, still receive very regular updates, but games like Police Quest or even Lego City Undercover don’t have the same level of support as they’re older and less current titles.
Q. Are these games only available on PC?
A. Again, this depends on the game. LSPDFR, being a mod, is only available to play on PC, but other titles, like the aforementioned Lego City Undercover, can be played across a variety of platforms, including Nintendo Switch. The consoles on which you can play these games can be seen on their official websites for the most part, but it also doesn’t hurt to do a quick search to check where they’re playable.
Police simulator games are a rare breed, but there are some decent offerings, as uncovered on this list – especially the GTA mod, which offers fantastic detail and scenarios. Delve into your dream of taking on the role of a police officer with these selections.