Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Game 59: Police Quest III: The Kindred (1991) – Introduction

Written by Alex



Released for the IBM PC and the Amiga in September of 1991 (according to Giant Bomb) or October (according to MobyGames), Police Quest 3 (according to the box) or III (according to the game itself), subtitled The Kindred, takes the series into the VGA, 256-color point-and-click, a place Sierra had been transitioning many of its long-running adventure series during the early 1990s. King’s Quest first got the king’s treatment in 1990 with King’s Quest V, followed in 1991 by Space Quest IV and a remake of Space Quest I, Leisure Suit Larry 5 and a remake of Leisure Suit Larry 1, and finally this title. More series would follow suit, as well as a bevy of new titles, some of which would spawn franchises of their own, created with ever-improving presentaiton.


I don’t need to go into the technical specifics or the history of Sierra’s Creative Interpreter (SCI) interface, so here’s the quick version: The player clicks instead of types to interact with the game world, and the graphics are better than the company’s older, parser-driven games. Remember, these were the days before the Internet, so this was a BIG DEAL to old farts like me.

This was a heady time in general for computer gaming, as the technology was allowing many companies, such as LucasArts, Origin, MicroProse, and Electronic Arts were pushing the envelope in graphics, music, and sound, but in overall game design as well. RPGs became more elaborate and plot-intensive, strategy games were being thrust into exciting new realms, and adventure games received their fair share of upgrades in terms of bells, whistles, and stories. Now (so goes the conventional wisdom) . . . now designers could tell the tales they always wished they could, unfettered by technological limitations and a public unwilling to accept video games as a viable storytelling medium!

The particular storyteller here is Jim Walls, retired California highway patrolman and designer of the first three games in the Police Quest series. As with his previous efforts, parts of Police Quest III are based on his own experiences on the force. And of course, his knowledge of police procedures and practices give both games a sense of realism heretofore missing from video games. Again, that is, according to the conventional wisdom.


Jim Walls, as seen in game.


Trickster liked both the first and the second installments in the series, finding that Police Quest I’s overreliance on following proper police procedure, and hence referring to the game’s manual, didn’t do much to enhance his enjoyment of the game, or it’s puzzles, while Police Quest II struck a better, more enjoyable balance.

Speaking of the manual, Police Quest III comes with a relatively straight-forward version of the Lytton Police Academy’s Procedure and Operations Manual, Lytton being the fictional California town that is the game’s setting. It serves as a primer on some basic police procedures, lingo, and radio and penalty codes, as well as a scrapbook of the main character Sonny Bond’s career up to this point. It also has a map.


Gee, this looks useful . . .


I’m sure that, as in the first two Police Quest games, this manual will come in handy for puzzle-solving.

One important note before I begin playing Police Quest III: I last played this game over 15 years ago, didn’t enjoy it much, and never finished it. That said, I am going into this game completely unbiased and ready to enjoy and assess it, free of nostalgia and its concomitant distortion of perception. In other words, I’m gonna be fair.
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's 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 CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 70 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

48 comments:

  1. I'm guessing 45. And will be playing along, as I've never played this one before.

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  2. The Anonymous Pineapple30 September 2015 at 01:11

    As a long time lurker, in the spirit of ending my days in the shadows I'm gonna chime in on this one since I just replayed it last month. Put me down for 47.

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    1. I thought all pineapples were anonymous. Then again, I've not talked with one to the point where we were on a first name basis. Always ending the conversation with the words that are something like, "I'm gonna cut you open and enjoy gnawing on your insides". XD

      Welcome aboard, mate!

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    2. Welcome Pineapple! I'm curious to see how my experience will compare with yours.

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    3. Not all pineapples are anonymous Kenny, only the ones with something to hide...trust me - you don't want to mess with my insides. :-)

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    4. And good luck Alex! I bought this when it came out and had semi-fond memories of the game like I do with all the Sierra games of my youth...looking forward to reading your thoughts on PQ3.

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  3. Never played it, no idea. But in honor of Douglas Adams, I go with 42.

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  4. There's just so many things that bother me with this game that I don't know where to begin. I'll now just say that while Lytton used to have a park called Cotton Cove, it now seems to have changed its name (it's called Aspen Falls).

    I'll guess 40.

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    Replies
    1. You are taking away points because someone renamed a park? Harsh.

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    2. That's just a minor thing, but the real complaints would be a bit spoilerish, so I'll leave them to later posts.

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    3. @Joe

      I noticed this too. It irked me. Enough to take away points? You'll just have to wait and see...

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  5. Never played any of the games so I haven't a clue, but since the others scored in their 50's I would assume a 56. Need to start somewhere to build all that CAP's

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    1. I'll have to think of some way to throw some CAPs your way.

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    2. No worry, when we reach games I know I might be more on target than now when I seem to be the bidder for the highest number (although it gives me the advantage of the Price is Right-scheme... until I saw TBD do an even higher number, the outrage). Still, just checked the total CAP's list and I'm at least not last since I assume I have +/- 0.

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    3. TBD rubs his hands evilly.

      Of course you can always change your guess before the first play post (which should be on Monday)

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    4. Nah, played card stays... or however that expression is worded in english

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  6. 41, because I have not yet heard a positive thing about this game.

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  7. Replies
    1. Internet Rule 43: The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt it.

      Anyway, I think it will be in the 30s. 38 for me!

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  8. I'm going to guess 55. I can't remember much about it, so I might play along too.

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  9. I'm going with a 54 because I still have fond memories of this game. However I was pretty young and not that versed into graphic adventure games at the time, so it's possible my memories are biased by pretty graphics and cool music...

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  10. I don't really remember this game being all that bad, but I think I recall encountering a bug that caused some events to repeat, so you could basically get stuck in a loop at some point. Maybe I'm mistaken, but if not, hopefully yours will be a patched version.

    As for the score: Put me down for 46

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    1. I recall a bug, too, from my playthrough all those years ago. It wasn't the same one you reference, though. As far as I know, I'm locked and loaded when it comes to the patches. Wish me luck!

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    2. Groundhog Day Quest could be a pretty awesome game, IMO

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    3. I remember an adventure game that used the Groundhog Day template. Orion Burger I think, but maybe I'm mistaken...

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    4. I remember an adventure game that used the Groundhog Day template. Orion Burger I think, but maybe I'm mistaken...

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    5. Unsure if an accidental double-post or meta-joke. And if it is actually an accidental double-post does it becomes an ultimate meta-joke?

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    6. To be honest, it was accidental but I didn't delete it because I found it quite funny indeed :)

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  11. I actually played this game early last year. I was enjoying it at first then got annoyed with gur qrnq raqf naq pbafgnag obevat qevivat.

    It'll be a big difference going from the click-to-win Larry 5 to this. I'm even considering playing along orpnhfr ynfg lrne V zvffrq n ybg naq tbg gur onq raqvat.

    As for score, I'm guessing high. 59 points for the black-haired, white-haired, blonde-haired, brown-haired Sonny Bonds!

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    1. Yeah, what's up with that new-game-new-haircolour stuff? Just pick a colour and stick with it, Jim.

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    2. It's a pity Sonny Bonds didn't get a new game. I sure would have liked to see him a redhead.

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    3. @TBD

      Where I am in the game, I'm still enjoying it. I hope it stays like this for a good long while!

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  12. 44. Anyone who guesses 50 or over is sadly in for disappointment methinks.

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  13. I don't recall PQ3 being that bad so I'm going with a 50!

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  14. Strangely, I've been looking forward to your take on PQ3. I only played through it once using a walkthrough, because the game's story seemed more interesting than the at times evil "puzzles"...

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    1. Well, I guess I'll take this as a complement, despite the "strangely." Normally, you're not looking forward to my take on games? ;) Either way, I hope not to disappoint!

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  15. I've also been looking forward to this, because I really liked PQ1 and 2 a lot but never got very far in 3...that was 20+ years ago though, so maybe I'll try playing along and see if I get any further today.

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  16. Unrelated: SpaceVenture has a new release date!

    Unfortunately, it is Nov 30, 2016. Ouch. It appears that personal difficulties have affected all three members of the SpaceVenture team and that they are working to get it back on track now.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spaceventure/two-guys-spaceventure-by-the-creators-of-space-que/posts/1367531

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    1. I just hope everybody's family is doing as well as can be expected. I read the messages from Scott, Mark, and Chris. Crazy stuff! Thoughts and prayers to all of them and their families. Game design takes a backseat to family.

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  17. I'll guess 48. Surely this is better than Larry 5, right?

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  18. A warm "Hello" to the Gaming Community. After a long read-only existence I´m stepping into the light for the first time. Thanks for this enormously enjoyable blog, it is great fun.
    In matters PQ3 I´m going for a score of 53, this should be better than LSL5.

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    1. Welcome! Always good to hear that people enjoy the blog.

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