Thursday, 16 May 2013

Game 31: Mean Streets - Won!

Tex Murphy Journal Entry 11: “I’m not going to waste too much time writing in this journal. Why would I when Sylvia waits for me in the bedroom! Things didn’t go exactly to plan today, but the end result couldn’t have been better. After getting the nav code for the MTC computer facility out of Bazil Mallory, and witnessing the deaths of Robert Knott and Big Jim Slade en route, I was taken captive by J. Saint Gideon as soon as I arrived. It was a great challenge, but I eventually figured out a way to escape, found the computer room, and set the Overlord project system to self-destruct. Sylvia got her million dollars and I got her, making us one very happy couple! Now, I have some…business to attend to.”


Yeah, well we'll see about that!

Well it took a total of sixteen and a half hours play time and no less than eleven gameplay posts, but I’ve completed Mean Streets. I think it’s safe to say that my tendency for thoroughness and the time it took to manually take 860 screenshots added at least two, probably three hours to the play time. My last post ended with me getting a solid lead that would likely lead me to the secret MTC computer facility, but I still had some detective work to do before I could follow it up. I now had a nav code for Melba Wiedbush, Stanford Demille, Harry Rice and even Robert Knott, but I was going to have to pay Sonny Fletcher a visit to find the one I really needed. Chief Security Officer and Law and Order Vice President, Bazil Mallory. It was he that could tell me where the facility was! Unsurprisingly, Sonny wasn’t willing to talk to me about Bazil, but $700 changed his mind: “Ya, I know where you can find him. He’s at NC 2713.”


Haha...I knew you'd talk! There's not much money can't buy.

Ignoring my excitement about finishing the game, I decided to visit each of the remaining nav codes by taking the shortest routes possible. That meant Melba Wiedbush’s home was my first stop, but it turned out to be a short one. Tex quickly realised Melba was “a complete airhead”, and apart from telling me that the mutants are “contaminating the water supply and that they’re bad dance partners”, offered nothing of value. My next location was Stanford Demille’s house, who turned out to be Law and Order’s corporate attorney. He made it clear that he wasn’t to be messed with! “Let me assure you that if you continue to invade and harass my client, with the wild and unfounded accusations, you’ll find yourself, your agency, and your client, though I do not know who would hire such a dirty, low life, blood sucking, private detective such as yourself, in court. Am I making myself clear?” Apparently he was, despite using way too many commas in one sentence, as Tex departed quickly with no further questions! The next lead on the list was Bazil Mallory, and after another standard shootout, I found myself face to face with him.


Melba: A dead end in more than one way

Bazil was completely unwilling to help me, but answered all of my questions after I threatened to punch his lights out. In the end he only had one useful thing to tell me: “MTC has a secret laboratory located on Alcatraz (NC 4550). We are developing a Mind Control Device which will help us rule the world!” So that’s two games in a row where the game’s climax begins on Alcatraz! What are the chances? It seemed very clear that the secret lab was where I needed to go, but I wanted to tie up the last remaining loose ends that I had. The first one I crossed off the list was Harry Rice, whom had appeared on Big Jim Slade’s hit list. This lead turned out to be another dead end though, as Harry had clearly suspected he was in trouble and left town. That left Robert Knott, the boss of Law and Order, who I really hadn’t expected to find at home. I fought my way past his goons and was indeed given the opportunity to question who I’d assumed would be behind project Overlord (although I did have a feeling that J. Saint Gideon was somehow involved after a few comments leads had recently made).


Another fan of Melba it seems!

I began questioning Knott about various things, but he wasn’t giving me much. I then asked him about J. Saint Gideon, to which he answered: “Gideon? Ask me about Gideon Enterprises, if you want to know the whole story. Then you’ll know who the real Mr. Big is!” I obliged, and was stunned when the sound of a gunshot spat out of my speakers. A shocked Knott now had a bullet hole in his forehead! Wow, I hadn’t expected that! It seemed that someone didn’t want me to find out what was really going on. I restored my game and asked different questions, but the result was always the same. Knott would be shot and killed after a few questions or even after the first one if I asked about certain topics. Therefore, with no other locations to check out, I made my way to the secret computer facility at NC 4550. I saved my game outside the building, and then unexpectedly received a fax from an unknown source: “If you’re looking for Big Jim Slade, you’ll find him at NC 4921. Come alone or there’s no meeting!”


Missed opportunity! It could have said: "he locates the trouble and shoots it."

I had a decision to make! Should I fly over to face Slade, or enter the facility to try to reach the computer system? It seemed pretty likely to me that I wasn’t going to be leaving the facility without completing my task, so probably wouldn’t get a chance later to see what Slade had to say for himself. For all I knew I’d get some required information out of him or even an item? Thankfully, Slade’s location wasn’t too far from the facility, but as soon as I exited my speeder, I found myself in a shootout. Once I’d fought my way through it, it quickly became apparent that the last guy I shot happened to be Big Jim Slade himself! “Slade stands in front of me with 6 of my slugs in him. He’s bleeding heavily, but he’s still got a smirk on his face. I notice he’s smoking a Camel cigarette. I walk up to him slowly, keeping my gun aimed at his heart. Looking at him makes me wonder when I last received a rabies vaccination.” I began asking Slade questions, but as well as offering me nothing I didn’t already know, he kept dying on me after only four of five questions. Eventually I decided the scene was only there for closure, and made my way back to the facility.


Big Jim Slade: Smiling right to the end!

“As I step out of my speeder, two Law & Order thugs jump out of the shadows. One of them slams the butt of his weapon against my head, and turns out my lights.” Well that wasn’t a very good start to my awesome triumph! When I woke up, there was a silhouette of a man in front of me, and a voice spoke the words: “Welcome Mr. Murphy. You were expected! I’m afraid I’ve been playing a game of chess with you. I knew someone would try to stop us from purifying this sick society, and I needed the passcards and passwords to make sure that didn’t happen. I ordered Knott and Slade to kill the scientists when their work on Project Overlord was done, and gather up the passcards. They didn’t have much luck finding them. I used you as a pawn to locate the cards for me. Now that I have them, nothing can stop Overlord from being implemented. We’ve planted microchips in key officials throughout business and government and they’re under our control. They, in turn, will control the population. We’ll rid society of all undesirables and purify the human race, and I’ll control mankind’s destiny.”


Oh yes, there will be blood!

I already figured the man in front of me was J. Saint Gideon, but his mention of chess made me sure of it. When I’d visited his mansion I’d found him sitting in front of a chess game. As is typical of any story involving the capture of the protagonist, Gideon decided he wouldn’t kill me. “Perhaps there could be a place for such a resourceful individual in my new Order...under my control of course. I’ll store you in a safe place until I decide what to do with you.” I was then taken to “an old, musty boiler room” that must once have provided all the heating on Alcatraz when it was a prison. I was going to have to find a way out of there, but there didn’t appear to be a time limit. I began by checking out the huge furnace at the back of the room, where I was able to interact with a sprinkler head, a furnace door, a door opener, a temperature gauge, and the furnace itself. I wasn’t able to reach the sprinkler head or open the furnace door, so I tried using the door opener. “You open the blast furnace from this close and the intense heat burns you to a crisp...game over.” Oh...shit...time to restore!


Now that's a serious furnace!

I went straight back to the furnace for my second attempt, but wasn’t able to do anything with the temperature gauge or the furnace either. I moved down to the boxes and found that looking at them revealed some piping and flanges, neither of which I was able to interact with. I had a bit more success at the table in the centre of the room, where I found a note reading: “Furnace safety instructions: 1) Use remote control panel to open furnace door when in operation. 2) Never leave furnace door open for extended periods; this constitutes a serious fire hazard.” So there was a way to open the furnace door that wouldn’t fry me! The only other item I found on the table was an apple core, but there was a floor grate next to it that I tried opening. To my surprise, Tex used the power drill I’d collected in the Law and Order office to remove the grating from the floor, but the resulting six inch hole was far too small to crawl through. With that part of the room explored, I walked over to the control panel in the bottom right corner. The panel had a switch labelled “Open / Close”, causing me to assume that it was the way to remotely open the furnace door. It was, but once again it didn’t end well!


 Um...get hole in the floor...ah...taste hole in the floor...no?

Even opening the furnace door remotely resulted in my death as the noxious fumes overwhelmed me. I restored again, and made my way over to the computer system on the right side of the room. There I found a panel and a view screen, so I tried opening the panel. It was locked, and I didn’t have the key, and looking at the view screen merely told me that it displayed the efficiency of the heating system. I wasn’t having much success at this point, but I made my way to the vent on the back wall to the right of the furnace, where I also discovered another panel. I tried to open the panel, but was told that I didn’t have the right tools to open it. Hmmm...that was concerning! Was I supposed to have collected a tool somewhere else in the game that would open the panel? I continued on, hoping that wasn’t the case, and found that I could open the vent with the slot screwdriver I’d found in Cal Davis’ apartment. Unfortunately, this opened up a shaft that was once again way too small to climb through!


Can you give me an idea what the right tools might be?

What was I missing here? I realised there was a section to the left of the furnace that I might be able to explore, and there I found a switch, a vent, and the door that separated me from the outside world. The switch was supposed to open the door, but unsurprisingly it was broken. I wasn’t able to interact with the door itself, so I tried opening the vent, hoping that this one would reveal a hole big enough for me to escape through. I was able to open it using the Phillips screwdriver I’d found in Ron Morgan’s cabin, and while the revealed 24 inch shaft looked promising, it soon narrowed into an unpassable 12 inches. What the hell? I’d explored the whole room and opened up three separate vents and gratings, but wasn’t able to get out. Doing anything with the furnace killed me, and the only things I hadn’t been able to do was open the panel on the computer system and the one on the back wall. It appeared to me that I needed whatever it was that would open that panel on the back wall, but where had I missed it! I considered visiting every location in the game that I could investigate and comb it for the missing tool, but before I set out on such a time consuming effort, I thought I would try exploring the room over again.


Oh you big tease you!

I’m thankful that I did, because this time I discovered that I could get a key by "moving" the boxes and an adjustable wrench by "opening" them. This might seem like a big oversight, but it was actually quite tricky. Once "looking" at the boxes had revealed the piping and the flanges, I’d not even considered that I would be able to move them or open them. I guess I’d thought looking at them had shown me what was in them in the first instance. Anyway, I took the adjustable wrench over to the panel on the back wall and removed it. There was some fire info inside that stated: “In case of fire, the thermally-activated control system will engage, turning on the sprinkler system and enabling automatic emergency fire fighting systems.” That didn’t really help me, so I went over the other panel and opened it with the key. Inside was a small box, within which I found an atmospheric purification mask! This was the solution I was after, and I now assumed that I would be able to open the furnace door while being unaffected by the noxious fumes.


So there was a key in the boxes. Is this like a quantum mechanics type of thing?

This assumption was correct, and flicking the switch caused the furnace door to open without killing me. Shortly afterwards the sprinkler system kicked in and a large robot entered the room. It very quickly rolled over to the furnace and switched it off, then left, leaving me to ponder what I might be supposed to do. I opened the furnace again and tried positioning myself close to the robot in the hope that I would be able to interact with it, but that idea fell flat. I then noticed that the robot briefly sat beneath a portion of the shower spray, and I then figured out I could make the robot pretty much sit still by continually opening the furnace door as soon as the robot closed it. Surely the idea was to keep the robot under the shower of water for a period of time until it malfunctioned! After keeping it there for about a minute, I gave up on that idea too. Long story short, after wracking my brain for ages, I eventually just tried flicking the switch then walking past the robot and out the door before it could leave and close it. I made it on my second attempt! So all I’d really needed to do to get out of the furnace room was get the key from the box, get the mask from the panel, turn on the furnace, and walk out! It’s strange, but I don’t appear to have been the only player that didn’t try what was actually pretty obvious, instead making the “puzzle” much more difficult than it really was.


I was very upset that future robots appear to be waterproof

At this point I was given a description of Tex fighting his way to the computer room, which was “a converted cell block filled with electronic equipment”. There was a large control panel and display screen, and the eight passcards that had been taken from me were very nicely just sitting on the table. Apparently “Mr. Big wanted them checked for authenticity”. Ignoring this far too fortunate to be true turn of events, I pressed the big red button labelled DESTRUCT, and four laser cannons dropped down from the ceiling and pointed at my head. I was given 60 seconds to insert all eight cards into the computer system and then enter the passwords. This was pretty straightforward, as I had all the passwords listed in my excel spreadsheet next to their respective colours. While I was typing them in, J. Saint Gideon appeared on the screen, begging me not to destroy his life’s work. He even promised to make me his partner if I stopped, but I finished the job and witnessed a satellite exploding in Earth’s orbit. With the satellite destroyed, Law and Order would no longer be able to control the people!


Gideon's life'S work is not to be underestimated. What is he, about 100?

A newspaper article was displayed onscreen with the headline “TEX SAVES WORLD”, and I was then told that the FED’s captured Gideon as he tried to flee. There was apparently a big parade in my honor, and President Michael J. Fox invited me to the White House as his special guest. Even better, I was given a private screening of Back to the Future 17! As good as all of this was, I was then told that Tex was feeling a bit down since Sylvia had been upset by his initial suspicions that she’d killed her father for the insurance money. He went to her house to apologise, topping it off by asking whether there was anything that he could do to make it up to her. A sultry looking Sylvia appeared onscreen to suggestively say “Yes, you can take me for a ride.” Mean Streets finished with Tex and Sylvia flying into the sunset, and I audibly heard the words “Oh Sylvia!” “Oh Tex...more!” “Oh Sylvia!” A rather corny way for the game to finish, but it’s all well in line with the intentionally cliché and silly occurrences that pervaded throughout. So there you have it! Mean Streets is done! Final rating will be up in the next couple of days, and I'm really not sure what to expect.


It was very satisfying to watch the satellite explode into a thousand pieces.


Why I thought you'd never ask! (Damn, Tex has done well for himself!)


The proverbial sunset wasn't merely proverbial in this instance!

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 16 hours 30 minutes

36 comments:

  1. Actually, I'm pretty sure Sylvia said "lower" at the end instead of "more" and Tex's final "Oh Sylvia" was played at a much lower pitch.

    So not only was it corny romance-wise it ended on a corny joke too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! It was a little difficult to understand, given the poor quality of the voice audio, but I'm sure you're right. I did notice that Tex repeated Sylvia in a lower voice, but I didn't put it together.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I can confirm that. "Oh Tex, lower!", , "Oh Sylvia!'.

      Delete
  2. And, a question to anyone who might know or have an appropriate saved game.

    Can you visit Big Jim Slade (and kill him) before visiting Robert Knott, and if so, does Knott still get shot half way through your interrogation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can check when I get home, but given I discovered some other timing anomalies by doing things out of order, I highly doubt it would make any difference.

      Delete
    2. I can now confirm that killing Slade prior doesn't stop Knott from being shot during questioning.

      Delete
  3. I figured you'd overcomplicate the boiler room bit.. but also knew you had picked up so much stuff here and there that you were bound to. (As I say, you were way more thorough than me - but that partially stemmed from not taking notes as dilligently, as I tend to prefer pad and paper, and lost half of them in writing down a phone number and tearing the piece of paper in half, mid-game. This wasn't too much of a concern due to how few places I ended up going -back- to, though.)

    As an aside, though - is it only me who really gets irked when that happens in games? The 'you just fought through eighty thousand bad guys - BUT YOU WEREN'T EXPECTING THAT SLAP ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD' excuse. I mean, it works in some games (I'm ROT13ing this as it's a possible spoiler for a game next year, but sbe vafgnapr, Dhrfg sbe Tybel 2 qvq vg jryy jvgu Nq Nivf ulcabgvfvat lbh - hc gb gung cbvag, gurer jnf ab bgure nqirefnel gung npghnyyl unq nal fhpu cbjre sbe lbh gb or 'cer-cercnerq' va nal jnl) - but in so many others, I just don't see why a guy who has, due to how poorly the combat was designed in this game, has just killed approximately five hundred of the town's finest crooks (I averaged at least thirty per firefight, at least, until I worked out that advancing was more important than clearing your way) - suddenly doesn't expect a smack to the back of the head.

    Or perhaps, it's just the fact that he never really turned around in any of those sequences...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe.

      Back in the 80s and 90s that kind of plot device didn't bother me but when it still happens today I get quite annoyed.

      As for the old "Bad guys attack one by one and always from the front" routine...

      I think even in dedicated shooters it wasn't until F.E.A.R. that bad guys started trying to flank the player instead of running full speed towards the player and/or constantly shooting in the player's direction regardless of the obstacles in the way.

      Delete
    2. Nah, marines in Half-Life already tended towards flanking instead of taking the direct approach (and using grenades and the like... hell... it was a good AI for the time...).

      Congratulations Trickster on finishing the game. I found the ending kind of anticlimatic (the boiler room has way too many red herrings and the fighting scene... well... I really hate those fighting scenes) but overall an enjoyable experience.

      Delete
    3. Honestly, I'd almost be disappointed if it didn't contain a knock on the head scene. It has a truly stereotypical PI with dry humor, bourbon, the trenchcoat, dames in distress, overblown bad guys and ending with a ride into the sunset.

      Wich noir detective didn't get bumped on the head?

      Delete
    4. Ah. I thought there was a good chance I'd be wrong about that.

      The fact that I rarely play shooters unless they have a horror atmosphere has let me down :)

      Delete
    5. Truth be told? I've played the later FMV Tex Murphy games (I refused to play these at first as the speeder bit just didn't make sense to me and gave me a headache, which was reason enough to say no) - and in those, that sort of thing felt 'right'. Tex wasn't displayed as a guy who kicked ass left right and center. I wager that the average gamer who played Tex Murphy from start to finish killed no less than a hundred and fifty bad guys, PRESUMING they didn't double back at any point (with a pistol alone, no less!) - this guy is up there with your Duke Nukems and the like to me, really.

      Delete
  4. Congratulations Trickster! This one feels like it was a long time coming. I hope everything is going well for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got the impression it was the amount of blog text he had to write that kept Trickster from beating the game. If he is as thorough with the next game and describes all the info available in it, we'll have another slow one (just started playing Neuromancer, and boy did they pack text in it).

      Delete
    2. Maybe I shouldn't play along for this one then, or at least not blog about it. :/

      Delete
    3. I expect games will get consistently more dialogue heavy as the years pass.

      It might be worth reconsidering the amount of detail in the blog posts for the more verbose games.

      I personally quite enjoyed the detail, but I imagine if I was less personally interested in Mean Streets I wouldn't be quite so keen to read every post as religiously.

      That could explain the drop-off in readership Trickster noticed.


      Delete
    4. I'd be fine if he started summerizing things a bit more as games get longer; Once we have a few conversation examples I think we've got the feel, and he could drop a few of the red herrings, summarize repetitive bits, and cut out a few of the less important puzzles.

      Delete
    5. I'll admit, I started skimming towards the end. I always read that in-character summary, but all the details didn't hold my attention for this game. I never got into detective stories, not sure why.

      Delete
    6. Zenic: I’d think Neuromancer would actually be a good game for being blogged by two persons. The plot is not so railroaded, especially as it has some light RPG-like elements, such as levelling skills, taking care of your money and health and real time battles. Also, most of text I mentioned is probably not at all relevant to the plot, but is there just to make the game world more real. (Of course, I don’t know what the whole game is like, because 1) my first playthrough 5 years ago ended up with me being utterly defeated and 2) I’ve now just barely started it again.)

      Delete
    7. I'm not going to get too concerned about detail levels just yet. Mean Street wasn't the average adventure game after all. We'll see how things go during the early stages of 1990.

      Delete
  5. By the way, I'm amazed that you're still able to keep your comments free of security measures while the blog still maintains a nearly flawless spam record. How do you manage to stay under their radar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No idea! I've had about two spam messages since I started the blog. Lucky I guess!

      Delete
  6. Oh man oh man: I found an adventure game I played as a kid: http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/05/04/saturday-crapshoot-hugos-house-of-horrors-whodunnit/

    I played for a bit, but due to a learning disability my spelling was so poor at the time I couldn't type the commands in well enough to get the game to work. In retrospect, this may not be a bad thing.

    Lets force him to play it, in the 'so bad its good' genre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it already on the playing list?

      Delete
    2. Answering to myself, no, it's the first game of the series that's on the list. The second is disregarded (and by the looks of it, should definitely stay that way...).

      Delete
    3. Ilmari: I don't know. It looks dumb, and weird, but not long and we've had fun with terrible games before. I don't think this would come anywhere near the worst game on the list.

      Delete
  7. Trickster,

    I actually really enjoy these ultra-detailed posts. Seeing as how I have little-to-no time to play any kind of game, let alone a long and involved one like Mean Streets your posts, as cliche as it sounds, make me feel like I'm playing the game along with you. I may not comment much, but I read every post. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've only read thoroughly the first few posts, and read less as you went on, because I've got vague plans to play the game by myself at some point and don't want spoilers. I mostly skimmed to get an idea of your opinion and the gameplay.

    I wonder if the game will be the only non-LucasArts or -Sierra game to get in the top ten for now. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just! But only because I generally put the most recently released game on top of all equally rated games.

      Delete
  9. Did anyone else notice that Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude: Uncut and Uncensored! has been released on GOG? I'm not sure that's something we should be celebrating, but it's something I'll have to deal with one day.

    http://www.gog.com/gamecard/leisure_suit_larry_magna_cum_laude_uncut_and_uncensored

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought we were only supposed to talk about adventure games on here...

      Delete
    2. Should it not be considered one? Oh yeah...Moby Games calls it an action game! Well at least I won't have to play it then!

      Delete
    3. That is the one that was designed to be played one-handed, right?

      Delete
    4. These two Leisure Larry games done by High Voltage were not approved by Al Lowe and don't come anywhere near the same style, humor, etc. This one was basically just mini game after mini game with more nudity thrown in than any of the previous games. I would not consider them adventure and would not play them unless you were doing a retrospective on the series, and then only as a contrast to "what was".

      Delete
  10. Thanks for going into detail on how to get out of the boiler room. All the other guides I could find glossed over so many details. I was prepared to start going back location-by-location to see if I had missed a key or a wrench somewhere, before you tell me to move and open the boxes. Brilliant. Thanks again, and also your blog seems cool so I'm going to look around a bit, now.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Back to the Future 17? Is the shark still fake?

    ReplyDelete