Saturday, 4 May 2013

Game 31: Mean Streets - Danger Will Robinson!

Tex Murphy Journal Entry 7: “Today was nowhere near as strange as yesterday (no one-eyed or two-headed freaks), but it was just as eventful. I questioned Tom Griffith, the vice president of MTC Corporation, and the guy must have been on crack or something. He told me way more information than he needed to, confirming my belief that MTC and Law and Order have been working together on a dangerous top secret project. Tom wasn’t the only creep I met today though! Out of the three accountants Larry Hammond suggested I visit, only Arnold Dweeb could give me the information I needed. The asking price however was completely insane, and I had to pawn quite a few of the items I’d collected around the traps just to match it. In the scheme of things though, what Dweeb told me could help crack this case. I have the names of fourteen individuals that have been receiving checks from MTC (eight of which were unknown to me previously), and through various means I now have all but two of their nav codes. I now find myself in the laboratory of one of these leads (Greg Call), hoping to get my hands on at least one of the remaining passcards I need.”


I consider the amount of people trying to kill me as a sure sign I'm on the right track

As you’ll see if you check out the spreadsheet snippet at the end of my previous post, the next lead I needed to check out was Tom Griffith. I’d only recently heard anything about Tom, yet his position as Vice President and General Manager of MTC Corporation marked him as a pretty important figure in proceedings. As I attempted to enter his house, I was attacked by goons and forced into a gunfight identical to the ones I’d faced earlier. The tactics I used were also identical, and I was able to get through the two screens without wasting too much ammo and with little loss of health. I’d kind of hoped that the difficulty of these sections would increase as the game goes on, but it appears I’m going to be forced to relive the same shootout over and over, with only an occasional change of background scenery to liven things up. I knocked on Tom’s door repeatedly until the clearly irritated and freaked out VP finally let me in. The questioning began!


You're also a slimebag, and I too feel there are some big changes in your future!

At first it appeared as though Tom was going to be pretty tight-lipped, but once he realised I already knew quite a bit, he lost all his inhibitions and began to rant. As soon as I mentioned the word Overlord, Tom had the following to say: “How did you find out about Overlord? I guess it doesn’t matter, because it’s almost operational. Through microchips and satellite monitoring stations, we can watch anyone, anywhere in the world. Overlord will greatly enhance government security. Everyone will benefit through this new control device, except those who are deemed a threat.” I then questioned him about Law and Order, and another rant ensued: “The Law and Order party is becoming more powerful every day and has followers throughout government and business. They’re working with us to develop a device which will revolutionize the surveillance industry. Then we will put it to work against the enemies of this country. All decent citizens will benefit from our work. There are those who think the device is dangerous, but we’ll soon change their minds about that.”


Not so cocky now are you!

Well, as if there was ever any doubt, I now knew from the horse’s mouth that MTC Corporation and Law and Order were working together on project Overlord. This certainty was all I got out of Tom though, so I left the highly agitated guy and made my way to the Oakland Coliseum. It was there my informant Lee Chin had organised for me to meet up with accountant Arnold Dweeb. He was described as looking like an A,#1  weenie (whatever that is), and “the type of accountant my parents warned me about.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I soon found out! Arnold wouldn’t answer a single question without significant payment, and he acted like he had something important to say on every topic. I was already starting to get a little low on funds (around $2700), so I had little choice but to save my game, ask him a few questions, then restore and ask him a few more. The majority of the information he gave me was completely useless, yet cost me an arm and a leg to get. For example, it cost me $1000 to bribe Arnold to tell me about J. Saint Gideon, and all he had to say for it was “He was president of Gideon Enterprises at one time. I heard him tell Schimming he’d get even with him someday.” I’d heard that from several other sources, so this information was worth nothing to me now.


...to shoot first next time!

Overall I spent $13800 to get every piece of information out of Mr. Dweeb, but at the end of the day there was only one thing he told me that was worthwhile. That came when I asked about MTC Corp. I offered my entire $2700 for the information, but he still said it wasn’t enough. I exited the coliseum back to my speeder and checked out my inventory. To this point I hadn’t pawned any of my items, but I was going to have to if I wanted to find out what Dweeb knew that was so important. I pawned the antique lamp, the galium arsenide bars, and various other bits and pieces, taking my total cash over the $7000 mark. It took $3000 of it to find out about MTC, but it was worth it: “Here is a list of people who have received checks from MTC. I’ve also included some of the navigational codes to help you find them. Don’t tell anyone where you got this list!: Carl Linsky, Ron Morgan, Jorge Valdez (NC 4931), Brenda Perry (NC 4577), Greg Call, Cal Davis (NC 3720), Big Jim Slade, Tom Griffith (NC 4590), John Klauss, Bosworth Clark, Sandra Larsen (NC 4599), Della Lang (NC 2111), Sam Jones, and Larry Hammond.”


Not as humble either

That was no less than fourteen leads, although only eight of them were new to me. Out of the eight new ones, Arnold had only given me three nav codes, meaning I still needed to find out the other five. I asked him about all of the leads separately, but didn’t manage to get what I needed. I therefore left the coliseum and contacted Vanessa. She wasn’t able to help with any of the five names, so I spent the next period of time trying to bribe Lee Chin to share what she knew. It cost me $2200, but I eventually received five faxes with information regarding the whereabouts of the remaining five leads. 1. “Ron Morgan has a girl friend named Della Lang. She knows where to find him.” 2. “I don’t know where Clark is, but I have a lead. Talk to Peter Dull, the insurance agent. He wrote an insurance policy for Bosworth Clark and he may be able to help you locate him.” 3. “I don’t know where Jones is, but John Klaus could help you locate him.” 4. “I don’t know where to find Slade, but Police Detective Steve Clements might be able to help you.” 5. “Talk to Steve Clements about Greg Call. He can give you some important facts you might need.”


These threats are starting to arrive more regularly

All of this went into the spreadsheet, and I set off to see the next lead, Jerome Milbourne, the last of the accountants for MTC Corporation that Larry Hammond suggested I go see.  Since Dweeb had given me all the information I needed, I kind of figured Milbourne would be a dead end, and he was. In fact, he wasn’t even home, and a neighbour informed me he was currently on a long vacation. The next closest lead was Peter Dull, the insurance agent that had given me very little the first time I paid him a visit. This time I asked him about Bosworth Clark and was rewarded with the following: “Yes, I’ve written several insurance policies for Dr. Clark. He’s quite eccentric. His laboratory is in Death Valley. He works with satellites and says the reception is much better in the desert. Try NC 9932.” Having got what I needed out of Dull, I moved onto Steve Clements, whose office was literally round the corner. Regarding Big Jim Slade, he had this to say: “Slade’s a dangerous man. He’d from Detroit, and when he’s in town, there’s always trouble brewing. We’ve never been able to pin anything on him, but I’m sure he’s a hired gun whose killed a number of people. If you’re looking for him, good luck. He’s likely to find you before you find him. A guy named Ron Meat might be able to help you, though.” Well I just happened to know Ron Meat, and would have to pay him another visit some time soon.


Who would have thought with a name like Big Jim Slade

I then asked Clements about Greg Call, to which he replied: “You’re not too popular around here. The Chief has told us we’re not supposed to give out information on this case to anyone, and your name was specifically mentioned. I’m taking a big risk even talking to you. This Professor Call commits suicide in his apartment at NC 4753. Shoots himself with a .38. Looks open and shut. But I’m starting to get suspicious about all the suicides and before we got there, a couple of goons from the Law and Order Party had gone through the house pretty thoroughly.” I was filling up the spreadsheet with navigation codes to visit again, and Greg Call’s apartment just happened to be next on the list. As soon as I arrived at 4753 and exited my speeder, I found myself in yet another shootout. Once again the background was different, but everything else was exactly the same. I was pretty good at taking out the bad guys without getting hit by now, and my ammo was still sitting at around 300.


These screenshots probably make the shooting sections look quite good. They're not!

I thought I’d be able to investigate Greg’s apartment now that he was dead, but instead I was just given a message describing what occurred there. “I search the place carefully but there isn’t much to see. I move the dresser in the bedroom and a map falls to the floor. The map is of an area of California near Mt. Shasta and the navigation code 8911 is circled. If the Law and Order boys had found this they would have taken it. Maybe this is where the laboratory is located, and I can beat them to the punch.” Flying off to the laboratory seemed to be the best thing to do, but I had a few stops to make on the way. First was Jorge Valdez’s house, which turned out to be a dead end. He apparently answered my questions, but clearly had no involvement with anything going on. Next was John Klaus, who Lee Chin had told me would know where to find Sam Jones. He did: “He’s an arrogant old Nazi who works in Las Vegas. Use NC 0021. Be careful... he’s a faithful Law and Order Party member and he’s not going to be cooperative with you.”


Since I'm jumping all over the place, I thought seeing the up to date spreadsheet of leads might be helpful.

As you can see from the above image, the closest nav code from my current location that I hadn’t yet visited was 8911, the circled location on the map discovered in Greg Call’s house. After a long journey, I finally found myself with another opportunity to investigate a room. The most eye catching aspects of Call’s laboratory were the red beams restricting access to a computer system and a robot that looked very similar to the robot in the Lost in Space TV series. As usual, I began my exploration in the top left corner of the room, where I found a cabinet, a control panel, a pole, and a danger sign. I was able to open the cabinet, but only because I had the 3-1 oil that I previously collected from Linsky’s lab. I felt very fortunate that I’d picked up every item that I’d come across so far in the game, as many of them (the oil included) seemed unlikely to have a use. I imagine any player that didn’t pick up the oil at the time would probably have forgotten about it altogether by the time they needed it. Perhaps the game would have said “if only you’d picked up the oil you found in Linsky’s lab!” or something like that? Regardless, there wasn’t anything game critical in the cabinet. Just a sack of diamonds worth $3000 for pawning (which I badly needed)!


Danger Will Robinson!

The control panel was labelled Voltage Regulation Control Panel, and I was able to switch it off. Unfortunately, this “shut down the inertial confinement unit, releasing deadly nerve gas into the room.” I was given 5 minutes to deactivate the door locks and escape, but that didn’t seem enough time to thoroughly explore the room. I ignored the timer and continued looking around. I was very excited when I looked at the pole, since it was described as “a long metal pole measuring 10 feet.” I distinctly recalled being told that “it seems obvious that you couldn’t reach the box with a nine foot pole” when trying get the small box out of the ape cage in Cal Davis’ apartment. Well now I had a ten foot pole! I’d been concerned that I’d missed something earlier in the game which had stopped me getting the box, which I knew contained Davis’ passcard, so it was great to know I was on track. I wasn’t able to reach the danger sign, so I moved onto the odd looking case at the bottom of the room.


Sometimes size really does count!

I’d had to leave my computer temporarily at this point, so by the time I got back the timer had reached 0 and I received a game over message. I restored and re-entered the lab, collecting the diamonds and metal pole on my way back to the case. At least now I didn’t have to worry about rushing since I hadn't set the alarm off. This section of the room contained a chamber and a stalagmite. The chamber was called a “protective containment system” and was designed for working with toxic chemicals. There were two mechanical arms inside that could be controlled from outside the case, and the description made a point of mentioning that one of the rubber seals on the case was damaged. The reason for this was made perfectly clear moments later! Inside the chamber I could see a vial and a key, so of course I tried to pick them up with the mechanical arms. My inexperience caused me to knock the vial over (note that I was merely told this information and wasn’t actually guiding the arms), which again released deadly fumes into the room (presumably through the damaged rubber seal). Once again I had five minutes to open the door and escape!!!


At least they know their stalagmites from their stalactites

I turned my attention to the key, and found that it was a small circuit box key. I tried picking it up with the mechanical arms and had success this time, adding it to my inventory. I then tried interacting with the stalagmite, eventually discovering that I could move it, revealing a button in the process. Pushing the button opened the door to the room, meaning I could leave whenever I wanted to! Speaking of leaving, I’ve gone well above my usual word count cut-off, so better stop here. I still haven’t once come to a point in the game where I haven’t known what to do next. I keep thinking that at some point I will need to revisit certain locations and re-question people more thoroughly, but I see no reason to do that while I continue to open up new avenues. Readers are suggesting that I should finish the game reasonably soon, but I don’t see how that could be the case. I’m a long way off having all eight passcards and passwords, so unless I find a bunch of them in one place, I figure there’s still a bit of fun to be had yet.


Tex seems to know what keys are for, just by looking at them

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

23 comments:

  1. Sweet! For some odd reason I actually found that the shooting sequences were easier when playing at home over RDP from work, I have no idea why.

    If I remember correctly, you have just the green and blue passcards now? I'm guessing you should have at least four more by your next post.

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    1. Yes, I have Linsky's blue passcard and Klaus' green passcard. I also know that Larry Hammond's grey passcard was stolen by the Law and Order party, but that's about it.

      Mind you, I've played a little further now and have two more. :)

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    2. Blind guess; orange and yellow? ;)

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    3. Yellow...yes. Orange...no idea where that one is.

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  2. I find it a little bit strange that you are so in need of money at this point in the game. From what I recall I didn't use that much money throughout the adventure as there was always someone providing the needed information anyway at some point.

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    1. I'd guess it's because of his thoroughness. Because he asks everybody about everything, the amount spent on bribes escalates quickly. I don't think it'll ever end up as a stuck situation though where he won't have enough cash to get the necessary information to continue, but I never tried it myself.

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    2. I'd say, on the contrary, it might be haste instead of thoroughness. Asking everyone about everything would reduce the amount of bribing required to extort/request information, but anyway, just saying because I'd hate to see our adventure gamer with no money!

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    3. I'd tend to agree with you if you asked everyone for information and bribed/threatened for what you didn't know, but as far as I can tell he asks everybody for everything on the list whether he has the required information or not. That's why I said thoroughness.

      Let's hope he has kept some saves just in case. :p

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    4. Oh well, if that's the case then let's hope for the best!

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    5. In the manual you have some NCs for "bounty zones" where you can collect some money (I guess from doing the boring action sequences) if it ever comes to that.

      Anyway, finally completed the game today :D. Even though it consisted mostly in looking/moving/tasting everything and going from point A to point B, and that the plot is quite straightforward, the game has quite charm. I enjoyed it more than I though (but for the action scenes... those are horrible)

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    6. You're absolutely correct Deimar, I totally forgot about those as I never needed them myself. Good thing Access considered the possibility.

      Might have to load an old save just to check them out, see how they're like.

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    7. Yeah, I've always had that in the back of my mind. If things ever get desperate, I'll check out one of those NCs.

      You're right though boukensha, there are generally always ways to get the information you need without paying up, but often I find the free way after I've paid for it. I'm not worried at all though, as I still have quite a bit of stuff that I could pawn.

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    8. Maybe I missed it, but how do you get more ammo? Is it purchased or just refilled at certain points?

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    9. I think in an earlier post, Trickster found some ammo while searching a room. My guess is that it's commonly found in such locations.

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    10. I think I may have picked up ammo twice in the game, but have hardly needed it. It probably takes about 30 shots to get past a shooting section, and since there have only been four from memory, it hasn't really been an issue.

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  3. So far this is the most interesting game I can think of, though the plot is really simple (No twists or turns.), but at least the game seems to take itself mostly seriously. That said, the fact it seems to go on and on giving you the same information over and over again is getting rather boring.

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    1. I know. I am starting to hear the same story from multiple people, although the varying accounts do make things clearer.

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    2. I like the effort that seems to have been made into what each person knows and how their personality affects what and how they tell you.

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  4. BTW, did you catch the D & D -reference? It can be read in one of the screenshots.

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    1. A 10 foot pole is a common item in D&D. Aside from that, yes.

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    2. I've never actually played real D&D (only video games based on it). Not through a lack of interest, just never had any friends that played it. I think I'd enjoy it.

      Is the metal pole the reference?

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    3. Yes, although in D & D it wasn't specified as being metal. 10 foot pole was mentioned in the original D & D manual as a useful item to take with you in the dungeons, and if you google it, you'll probably find some of the more ingenious ways to use it (springing traps from distance being the most obvious). Later editions eventually dropped the 10 foot pole, perhaps because it's just not very realistic to carry a 10 foot pole in caves.

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  5. It's lovely to see you moving so smoothly through a game for once! I was starting to think frustration and starting over were key elements of adventure games. :P

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