Thursday, 5 November 2015

Police Quest III – WON!

Written by Alex

Oh boy, you guys. Oh boy. I just finished Police Quest III, and all I can say is hold on to your hats. We’re about to see is an example of an adventure game running out of spunk at the very end. There are twists and turns and piles of dead bodies, puzzles and procedural work and drama, but in the end, there is no narrative cohesion or emotional payoff. You’ll see why.

Day 6 begins just like every other day, with Sonny waking up, dressing, and driving to the station. The previous day had been pretty exciting, featuring detective work, a demonic puzzle, a shoot-out with a suspect, and a car chase resulting in a dead perp. And Sonny’s partner, who has a history of stealing evidence, stealing evidence.

Is it a good sign when computer games get as monotonous as a real job?

Being the clever bastard that I am, my first stop is the first floor. I want to check the women’s locker room again because I’m an incorrigible pervert. I’m also convinced that the paper Sonny found in Morales’s desk is the combination to her locker. I’ve been thwarted in earlier attempts to enter, but I’ve been checking every day to see if anything changes, optimist that I am.


And something is different! It’s Mr. Stumps, the janitor!



And of course he’s a slack-jawed yokel. Because what else would a janitor be but a stupid, broadly drawn caricature of a middle-American hick? It’s yet another example of Hack Writing 101: Doctors are jerks, coroners are quirky, middle-Americans are stupid rubes, and manual laborers are borderline retarded. And don’t worry: there are plenty more examples of such stellar characterization for you to enjoy.


To add insult to injury, Sonny still can’t go into the women’s locker room. Nothing left to do but distract Mr. Stumps. I try to do something with his cart, but that doesn’t work—Sonny is no Roger Wilco. So the answer must be in the men’s room. I get the inspiration to cause a disturbance requiring Mr. Stumps’s attention. What, exactly, I’m not sure, but I’ll figure it out. And yes, I tried shooting Mr. Stumps. It did not work.


Check it out! There’s toilet paper in the stall now! There hadn’t been up to this point. Sonny cleverly clogs the toilet and flushes it until it starts to overflow. Shades of Leisure Suit Larry flash through my mind, but Sonny doesn’t drown. Instead, he goes and tells that loser janitor to clean up the nasty toilet water. Janitors! The butt of jokes since time immemorial!

The good news, though, is that Sonny can get into the women’s locker room. I click around until I find Morales’s locker and enter “386.” It works, and Sonny finds—drumroll, please!—cocaine in her locker!


Who saw that coming? And Sonny even acts surprised! How’d he make it to Sergeant, anyway? I can’t take the cocaine, but I click my notebook on it. Sonny takes notes, but I don’t get any points.

Well, I’ve gotta confront somebody about this. But I head up to the third floor first. There’s another tracking device in Mike’s drawer. I take it, thinking I may need to use it on Morales. Finally, I make my way to the Homicide room. Morales is still at her physical, but Captain Tate’s there. Sonny gives the Captain the news: Morales stole evidence from Rocklin’s car! And, uh, that Sonny thinks she’s in league with the cult.

What?

Where the hell did this come from? Nothing in the game has given me this impression. Every other discovery in the game has been the result of the player actively doing something, such as finding and interrogating witnesses, tracking down suspects, and investigating crime scenes. This just falls from the sky, and falls flat. But the Captain decides to have her investigated, so there’s that. He also tells Sonny that the coroner called with evidence recovered from Rocklin for Sonny to collect. Leon the coroner. Great. I wonder what whacky coroner trope he’ll embody this time.


Sandwich-eating. Huh. Never saw that coming. And the greatest thing about the TV Tropes page for this one is that it directly references Leon.

Old Leon had left an envelope for Sonny, containing a cult book and a cult ring taken from Rocklin, as well as Marie’s locket. Interesting that these were found on Rocklin, because when I clicked “Hand” on Rocklin, I was told he didn’t have anything. Consistency: who needs it?

Leon also hands Sonny a newspaper clipping from when Sonny got promoted. There’s something strange about it, though even Sonny’s exemplary detective skills can’t crack the mystery.


I was right: Sonny was the next intended victim. But why? Why did Steve Rocklin have a grudge against Sonny to the point of wanting him dead? I try to do something with the cult book and the cult ring, but they just take up space. Might as well book them at the station.

Leon also tells Sonny Rocklin’s last known address: 500 West Peach. Better get moving, then. Time is of the essence!

Or not, because Sonny automatically drives to the hospital to see Marie. Might as well give her her locket.


And she wakes up! Marie is out of her coma! She’s saved! She doesn’t say anything, but she’s awake! This is fantastic news, a miracle! Dr. Wagner probably wants to know! Better call the nurse and spread the news that Marie just woke up from a four-day coma! But the game tells me there’s no need to call the nurse.

Really?


Alright. Geez! Sorry I said anything!

Sonny and Morales hop into the car. The radio immediately crackles into life: Fire at 500 West Peach. It sure is a good thing that Sonny and Morales didn’t go there sooner to search for clues as to Rocklin’s motivation, or the true nature of the weird cult.


Where’s a cop when you need him? Oh, right: Attending to personal matters when he should be out solving crimes. I’m beginning to think that Sonny’s policing skills have been slightly overblown. Nothing left to do but examine the smoldering wreckage of this easily preventable fire.


Check out that blue thing on the floor in that screenshot. The first time I played this sequence, I tried clicking on it, because it looks like it’s highlighted for a reason, but Sonny couldn’t do anything with it. Upon leaving, a fireman brings a photograph to Sonny. It piqued my curiosity. It turns out that Sonny can find the photograph there, too, provided that he clicks on it with pixel-perfect precision. This is pretty cool, actually, because it avoids a Sierra Walking Dead Scenario (TM)(don’t worry; there are more). Let’s check out the photo:




Wow! Jessie Baines had a brother who’s apparently out for blood! I don’t think there’s been mention of Michael Baines in the previous two games, but there he is. This explains the title of the game: The Kindred. No wonder somebody wanted Sonny dead. This also explains the attack on Marie. Rocklin, then, must have been acting on the orders of Michael. I still don’t have any motive for the murders of Clifford Jones, Samuel Britt, and Andrew Dent other than making a pentagram, but this is at least a good start to unraveling the cult mystery. And here’s another overused trope: the sociopathic soldier! Because remember boys and girls, the men and women who volunteer to get shot at so we can be safe are all secretly mass murdering jack-off trigger-happy freaks with no conscience just one incident away from irreparably snapping!

Besides the further example of hack writing shown in this photograph, notice the address: 522 Palm. After Sonny finishes this investigation, he’d best book it over there to see if he can find Michael Baines. Maybe call some back up and do things in a timely fashion. The back room first, and then 522 Palm!


Well this is certainly nightmare fuel. There’s no madman summoning a killer djinn a la Quest for Glory II, but there is a whole lot of hair and dried blood in the middle of that pentagram! It’s a good thing I grabbed Sonny’s tools from the trunk before entering the house. I snag samples of the hair and blood for further DNA testing. So far, none of the other DNA evidence I’ve submitted during the course of this game has had any effect on anything, but a man can dream, can’t he?

“No.”

Okay, enough screwing around! Off to 522 Palm! Let’s solve this mystery once and for all!







Aside from this being the 300th or so time this exact same sequence has played out in Police Quest III, couldn’t Sonny say something, like, “No” to Morales? It’s just a suggestion. I don’t think that the game manual’s mandate to “follow up all possible leads” means “go to the mall.” At least this time the military recruiter—another poorly written character!—can tell Sonny something useful. I show him the photo of Michael and Jessie Baines. The recruiter gives Sonny Michael’s military records.



True to poorly written stereotype, Michael Baines seems like one bad dude, angry at the death of his brother and seeking payback. This seems like the kind of info that Dr. Aimes could use to build a psychological profile for Sonny, but I think it’s past the time that such information would be useful. It’s kind of redundant at this point, isn’t it? There’s no sense in going back to the station now. 522 Palm awaits!

Nothing . . . further . . . to do?

It’s around this point that I started to hate this game. Nothing is making any sense anymore. For a game premised on REALISM, this is getting pretty bonkers. But you know what? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I’ll take my sweet-ass time if that’s what the game wants me to do. First, I book my evidence. All of it: The cult book, the cult ring, the hair and blood samples, and the photograph. Next, I go to Dr. Aimes and give him Michael’s file.

His “analysis pose.” True fact: That’s Corey Cole!

This is what Dr. Aimes tells me:

“This guy’s not your average scumbag. He’s closer to the slit-his-own-mother’s-throat variety. I’d know more if I’d examined him, but based on this, I’d say he’s a schizophrenic psychopath. This guy’s criminally insane, Bonds. I’d be careful how I approached him.”

Thank you, Dr. Useless! I have a few bones to pick with this analysis, and a few I’d like to break:

  • Sonny is a detective. The fact that Baines appears to be the head of a murderous satanic cult gave Sonny all of this same information sans an analysis pose.
  • There is no way that the unspecific information from Baines’s file allows Dr. Aimes to make such a specific diagnosis.
  • “Criminally insane” is a pretty strong statement. It’s also a killer Slayer song.
  • Schizophrenia is, broadly speaking, an inability to discern what is real and what is not. Psychopathy, generally, refers to severe antisocial behavior and a lack of empathy towards other humans and remorse towards committing back acts. Schizophrenias aren’t in touch with the real world, and psychopaths don’t react to it in a normal way. A cursory Internet search revealed a condition called “pseudopsycopathic schizophrenia”: “a term applied to patients in whom antisocial, impulsive, or sociopathic tendencies initially mask underlying psychotic tendencies typical of schizophrenia.”

My question is: HOW DID DR. AIMES FIGURE THIS OUT FROM LOOKING AT THE STUPID MILITARY RECORD?! I know it doesn’t matter, and that it’s just a way to get more points and follow “the book,” but it’s still really, really stupid! And I just played Leisure Suit Larry 5, so I know stupid when I see it!

Sheesh! Let’s see if Sonny has any messages or anything in his office before finally, finally heading to 522 Palm.

Oh no.

Oh hell no.

The Captain seems to be stuck in a time loop. So does the whole game, in fact, a bug that commenter Torch warned me about in the introduction post. I play along, because what the hell else does Sonny have to do? Not catch the leader of a murderous death-cult, that’s for sure. So I drive to the coroner. It’s locked. Back in the car, Sonny drives to the hospital. The weird thing is that it’s nighttime and the time has advanced. Marie is still awake, but nothing new happens. Then back in the car I get the message about the fire at Rocklin’s house. At this point, I restore, book my evidence, talk to Dr. Jackass, and then finally, finally, drive to 522 Palm.


522 Palm looks like a heavily reinforced dump, with bars on the windows and a thick steel door. There’s a barking dog, an electrical meter, a couch, and a broken-down old car that Sonny can’t do anything with. I know on the door and see movement through the barred window, but nobody answers. I try clicking “Talk” to announce myself, and click the badge too for good measure, but nothing happens. Here’s the procedure according to the manual, and why I’m pissed off about this:

Special Operating Procedures Section IV, Obtaining Entry into Private Property, Part 3: Other situations: a. Requesting admission: “An officer may present himself/herself at a legitimate entrance to the private property and ask for admittance. The officer must identify himself and his purpose.” The game does not let you do this. Realism my ass.

Here’s b. Admission refused: “If admission is refused the officer can only gain entrance by obtaining a search warrant.”

Right. Search warrant. How does one get a search warrant? Well, since I’m an attorney, I know you get one from a judge. But nothing in the manual mentions this. What if you were a kid, or a non-attorney who had never studied legal procedure? You’d just have to brute force your way to this solution. Lame. Or you’d do what I did, and try to walk up the stairs on the side.

Caption Contest: What’s going on here? I’ll go first: Sonny: “Praise the Lawwwwd!”

The stairs are in disrepair. Sonny falls down and . . . dies? Is there a bottomless pit down there? A moat? Spot from The Munsters? Wouldn’t he just scrape his knee or twist an ankle or something? Realism! So I die, and since I hadn’t saved in a while, it takes me some time to get back to this point. It’s around here I really start to loathe the game.

I drive to the courthouse. Sonny requests admission to Judge Simpson’s chambers to try and get a warrant. After a sarcastic comment or two, she asks to see Sonny’s evidence. I give her the newspaper clipping, the only piece of evidence I really have. It’s not enough. I have nothing else to give her, not the cult book, the cult ring, or the photo of Michael and Jessie Baines. That’s because I followed proper police procedure and booked them into evidence. So I have to restore even farther back, not book the evidence, and give that junk to the judge to get my warrant into 522 Palm. It’s around this time that I started to despise this game.

Back at the courthouse, I find that if I give the judge the newspaper clipping and the photograph, she’ll give Sonny a warrant. She doesn’t care about the book or the ring.


I feel like the game punished me for following proper police procedure and dead-ending me. I call extreme shenanigans here. But Jim Walls don’t give an F. He’s as bad as he wanna be. At least Judge Simpson seems pretty nice.


Hopefully I won’t need to take her up on her offer for further assistance. However, back at 522 Palm I run into an obstacle I saw coming 1,000 miles away: serving the damn warrant.


How is Sonny going to get that door open? Well, even though the manual screwed me over fairly recently, let’s take a look at Special Operating Procedures, Section V: Forceful Entry into Dwellings: “1. In the case of a locked or fortified building, specific departmental tools may be required to gain entry. Available tools include: a. Hand-held power ram. Sufficient for most non-reinforced entrances. b. Motorized converted military armored ram. Used to violate heavily-reinforced steel entrances.”

Although the thought of using something called an “armored ram” to “violate” a door is arousing, I control myself and prepare to—sigh—drive back to the judge to get permission to do this. How do I know I have to drive back to the courthouse? I don’t. I’m just guessing. But it’s the solution. It’s around this time I really started to question my sanity for volunteering to blog about this game for this site. This whole sequence is exacerbated by the ball-numbing tedium of the driving interface. Anyway, Sonny gets his damn judicial order.

Notice how here Sonny says that service of the warrant isn’t the problem, but at the actual crackhouse, the game said that service of the warrant is the problem.

Back at the crackhouse, things are ready to get rammed: The ram unit is in place, backup is covering the front, and Morales goes to cover the rear. The uniformed cop tells Sonny to give the word. So I give the word using my trusty “Talk” icon.

Oh, baby!

Before we go on, I’d like to point out that the game automatically make Sonny stroll right into the crackhouse after the ram unit finishes violating the reinforced entrance. Now, I did read Special Operating Procedures, Section III: Felony Situations, 1: “Approach the situation with weapon loaded and drawn.” But the game did not let me draw my weapon before entering the room. When Sonny waltzes in unarmed like a doofus, he gets blown to smithereens by some asswipe who rolls in like he’s friggin’ G.I. Joe.

“Boo!”

Oh, kiss my ass.

You have to click the gun on Sonny. Then he’ll take out his weapon, give the order, and go in ready to blow some perps sky high. It’s about time that Sonny got a chance to legitimately introduce some asses to some caps. But wouldn’t you think he’d get a bulletproof vest or something?

Finally!

It doesn’t matter. His bloodlust temporarily satiated, Sonny emerges most triumphant from the shootout. But what’s this? Somebody off-screen says “Don’t shoot! I give up!”


It’s Michael Baines: Cult leader, schizophrenic, CRIMINALLY INSANE psychopath, and total pussy. Anti-climactically, Sonny cuffs him without incident and hands him over to his back-up officer. I suppose this is where, if I didn’t get my cuffs back from crazy Carla Reed’s shopping cart, I’d be screwed.

So that’s that. Instead of venting his burning rage against the man that killed his brother and sent him over the edge, Michael Baines, the kindred of the Death Angel, surrenders himself, mild as milk. Game over, then?

Nope. Sonny can search this room now. I click “Hand” on the corpse lying behind the couch and am told he has “nothing of interest on him.” I can think of something of interest. An ID. You know, a way to know who I just killed?

Whatever. Searching the couch a la the thief in the little old lady’s house in Quest for Glory I, reveals a television remote underneath one of the cushions. Did I slip into Leisure Suit Larry? Clicking the remote on the TV brings up a zoomed-in image.


In line with the sense of urgency present in this game thus far, I figure Sonny will turn on a baseball game, plop himself down on the couch, and watch a few innings before leaving, driving to the hospital, taking Morales back to the Oak Tree Mall, grabbing a sandwich somewhere, pinching a loaf, and turning in for the night. I mean, the crackhouse will still be there tomorrow, right? Instead I get a flash of inspiration: Maybe Morales’s locker code is some kind of cult thing. Sonny miraculously suspects her of being in league with the cult, right? So why not click “386” and see what happens?

I’ll tell you why: You can only click one button at a time. I click “3.” Nothing happens. I click the remote on the TV again to get the close-up. Maybe you have to do each button separately. I click “8,” and the fireplace opens up, revealing a hidden passage.

The only thing saving this from being really stupid is if Batman is down there. He is not.

A secret passage! I guess I was supposed to just click everything until I got to “8.” By this point, I am beyond caring about anything but ending the game and, by extension, my misery.


Look! Drug stuff! And nothing I can click on! Let’s go back up the stairs!


Look! Another nameless, faceless cult member I get to shoot!


Look! It’s Morales! Where’d she come from? Who cares?!


Look! Another poorly written stereotype, the man-hating woman! Sonny’s partner is trying to kill him! Who cares?!


And look! A random cop the game just drops out of nowhere and has spent no time building any sort of emotional attachment to or interest in appears in the nick of time to shoot Morales! Dead bodies!

This guy is somebody named Detective Hooks from Internal Affairs. I don’t know if I’m supposed to know of him or not. Hooks has been trailing Morales since I tipped off Captain Tate earlier in the day. Really, who cares at this point? I sure don’t.

I then get the victory message:

“Congratulations! You’ve not only solved your murder case, but you’ve also found and incapacitated a dangerous cult that was processing crack. Now all that’s left to fight is the paperwork. You almost welcome the routine of it all. There IS such a thing as too much excitement.”

Okay then. The game then shows Sonny’s car outside of Lytton General. He gets out, presumably to see his wife and take her home. And then Jim Walls appears to give me one final kick in the nuts on my way out:



Roll credits:


I hate this game.

Points: 440 out of 460.
Inventory: Gun, keys to Morales’s desk and to Rocklin’s car, flashlight, handcuffs, photograph of Michael and Jessie Baines, judicial order, wallet with $2.50, computer access card, tracking device, cult book, notebook, cult ring, newspaper clipping.

Well-written Characters: 2 (the nameless reporter, Orpheus Hanley)
Poorly-written Characters: 7 (Morales, Leon, Mr. Stumps, Carla Reed, Juan Jose Ruiz, Mike the IT guy, Dr. Aimes)

Official Body Count: 7 (Rocklin, nameless cultist #1, nameless cultist #2, Morales, Samuel Britt, Clifford Jones, Andrew Dent)
Unofficial Body Count: 9 (Rocklin, nameless cultist #1, nameless cultist #2, Morales, Samuel Britt, Clifford Jones, Andrew Dent, crazy Brian Forbes, the undercover sheriff)

Session Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Total Time: 10 hours and 20 minutes.

37 comments:

  1. Hey, nice going. This game seems like a case study for why it's important to have a competent game designer on the team. Anyway, Marie looked awake enough up there, I wonder what was missing.

    Thank you for an excellently entertaining read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kirinn, glad you enjoyed reading my trek through the dangerous streets of Lytton. I, too, wonder what I didn't do with Marie. All I can guess is that I didn't kiss her until the second or third hospital visit. If that's the case, then she probably didn't love Sonny enough anyway to wake up, no matter how many trinkets he festooned her with.

      Delete
    2. See, it's the thing where a guy, who lost his memory from getting hit in the head with a bat, regains his memory after getting hit in the head with a bat AGAIN.

      Since Marie went into coma via stabbing, the only rational way to get her back is to stab her again.

      Delete
    3. You know, Kenny, that makes just as much sense as some other adventure game puzzles we've seen on this site.

      Delete
  2. That same bloody thing happened to me when I played recently. Marie was awake the day before and still in a coma at the end. I assumed it was a bug and watched the 'good' ending on youtube deciding I deserved it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBVz2Y1MLRY

    And watching it again shows that the 'coma' ending is even worse than I'd remembered. Knowing that her permanent coma is because I screwed up somewhere also makes it all the worse.

    By the way, the main reason I ended up not playing along this time was because there was quite a bit of backtracking and reloading to fix mistakes and each time puts you in the boring driving minigame which has no purpose, from memory, apart from the first day or so when you're a traffic cop

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The backtracking is a pain in the neck, exacerbated by the terrible driving interface. I mean, if you miss one turn in Lytton, you can kiss five minutes goodbye, which is pretty much unacceptable for something called a GAME, which is supposed to be FUN.

      Do you have any idea why we both killed Marie? What did Sonny do that the doctors couldn't? What mysterious inventory item or action did we fail to take? When will be able to wash this blood off of our hands?!

      Delete
    2. Like you said in your other post, it's probably that you didn't kiss her on the first visit.

      True love's (timely) kiss FTW!

      Delete
    3. I guess so, Ree. Harsh!

      Delete
  3. Walls left halfway through the game's development. 1/3 of the game is authoritarian "you dare ignore procedure?!? Shame on you"-bullshit, 1/3 is silly stuff (the first day and the character writing), and 1/3 are bad puzzles (which, as you pointed out, often downright clash with the procedure). The stoic writing also doesn't do it any favours - "Your wife died! Next time, don't make that mistake again!" And seriously, calling her a vegetable? That's straight out of The Naked Gun. I mean, literally: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gob9NlqF7A#t=3m35s

    Captain hard-ass' in-game representation had PR-assistance from Al Lowe (PQ1) and Jane Jensen (PQ3), and these are messages that STILL persisted. Holy crap.

    I'm kinda surprises you didn't bitch more about the driving sections. The final part of the game has you drive around way too much, and it's zero fun IMO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't think I bitched ENOUGH about the driving? Wow! Next time anybody calls me a whiner, I'm going to point them straight to this comment!

      I was not aware that Jim "Sweet Baby" Walls left during this game's development. That better explains the haphazard feel the later portions have with the earlier ones. For all of the design faults his games seem to have, the front-end of Police Quest III is much better than the back end.

      Re: Vegetable . . . the term also figures prominently in "Wanna Be Startin' Something" by Michael Jackson. Is there a connection? Only in my mind . . .

      Delete
    2. Him leaving the game unfinished is just insane. Sweet Baby was brought into Sierra's ranks mainly because of Police Quest. If he wasn't working on Police Quest, what the $#%& was he gonna work on? Phantasmagoria?!

      Delete
    3. He left Sierra, which is how he later wound up with Tsunami, who were comprised of quite a bunch of ex-Sierra employees.

      Jane Jensen was hired to re-write the unfinished dialogue. JJ is a good writer and all, but you can really tell that the development ran into a couple of problems.

      To me, the driving is the biggest "intentional" problem of the game. The bugs are horrible, too, but those weren't quite intentional (I hope). 1/4 of the game is spent driving, and it is no fun whatsoever, so yeah, to me it was a huge dealbreaker.

      Delete
    4. @Kenny

      As long as he didn't work on Conquests of the Longbow . . .

      @Anonymous

      I did not even realize the company Tsunami existed until fairly recently. Interesting!

      Jane Jensen, as we will see with her own games, is a VERY good writer. That's why I was kind of shocked to see her name pop up in these credits. However, the fact that Walls left midway through this game's creation makes sense and goes to explain the incongruous feel between the two halves of the game.

      The driving interface is one of the most tedious I've ever come across. Police Quest II had the right idea: DRIVE TO STATION, etc. Although, I don't know if the highway patrol sections would have worked without a player-controlled interface.

      Delete
  4. Well done getting through that Alex! I was going to play along, but I ended up being too busy. Looks like I didn't miss much.

    It's a shame they couldn't manage a decent game. Given the popularity and variety of detective shows in the US, you'd have thought they could have managed a bit better. Although it does live up to some of the more cliché elements of those sorts of TV shows, so they got half-way there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andy, if you're a PQ fan, you should play through it sometime, with the caveat that the last in-game day really, really drops the ball. Police Quest II remains the best in the series, by far: it strikes the right balance of procedural versus fun.

      Delete
  5. The whole Morales subplot seemed forced or an after construct based on what you have written, the game just tells you she's in on the cult? The only reason for a player to suspect her of something else than being a pain is that you can look through her locker, go through her desk and get her key, the game even encouraging you. Really, what did she do after she was paired up with you? Besides stealing the cocaine, but that was fairly late and why was it in anyway connected to the cult?

    And I assume the other victims had no connection what so ever so it's just coincidental up until Marie gets stabbed? Gee, and they didn't use the old the middle of the pentagram cliche... or star or whatever to mark some important location. Damn, I begin to feel the frustration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Morales subplot related to being a drug user or dishonest cop was set up pretty well, or would have been if that was the actual subplot. Having her be connected to the cult comes out of nowhere. It makes no sense whatsoever. I have an easy fix for it: Let Sonny actually READ THE FRIGGIN' CULT BOOK and have Morales's name pop up somewhere in it, or give the player SOMETHING tying Morales to the bad guys. Another easy fix: Have Morales actively hinder Sonny's investigation (beyond her STUPID trips to the mall). OR have the evidence Sonny finds in her locker be related to the cult in some way. Why can't I make money designing computer games?

      Delete
    2. Agree that if that was the subplot it would have been rather good set up, but I wonder what the payoff would be? That Sonny set her straight and she is the one gunning down the last cult member instead?

      Delete
    3. Having a redeemed Morales save Sonny's life would have been so much better than the random IA officer coming to save Sonny's life. Deus ex machina is always week, but if it's at least set up a bit, it's not AS bad.

      Delete
  6. Alex, you managed to nail my exact thoughts about the game. It's not just the frustrating dead-ends forcing you to drive around the same boring streets umpteenth time and the loop bug, but also the cliched characters and the plot with so many holes you could use it as a sieve. (And another minor thing: why can't you book the newspaper clip as evidence?) If there's something positive to be said about the game, at least it's not Police Quest IV (I am just waiting the discussions about a) exemplary police behaviour, b) some really offending stereotypes and c) brilliant "detective work" leading to the most convoluted ending of adventure gaming history).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said Ilmari: At least it's not PQ IV. That makes this game look like a paragon of logic and good writing. PQ IV is another one that starts out strong and just gets plain bizarre and lazy at the end. I remember the final few sequences being one head-scratching moment after another.

      Delete
    2. PQ IV's presentation has aged awfully. The shitty midi music, the pixellated scans, the weird animation of the characters... Ugh. Plus "do the paperwork!" is one of the first "puzzles" in the game. Blue Force was rather boring, but at least it looked and sounded just fine.

      It's really a drag that there is no better cop show adventure than PQ II. I mean, I enjoyed PQ II, but it's not exactly the best adventure ever. I suppose you got the Tex Murphy series, but that's not quite being a cop.

      Delete
    3. I haven't fired up PQ IV since about 1999, so my memory is fuzzy. We'll see when we get there though.

      Delete
  7. A heap of adventure games for sale on Steam in their Nordic Sale.

    You can get some individually or just get all 15 games for $13.49

    http://store.steampowered.com/sub/66544/

    There's some good, some bad and some average in there according to reviews and my own limited experience (I liked the Black Mirror, found Safecracker playable and hated what little I played of Aura)

    ReplyDelete
  8. The positive today is the easiest one yet. THE GAME IS OVER!!! PARTY HATS ALL AROUND!!!

    If not for Hugo, this is so clearly the worst adventure of '91. It's good that you've managed it through with only minimal brain damage. The only singular thing I give the game is that it is definitely memorable. Even ten plus years on I remember that stupid pentagram screen. Oh, the pain...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That IS a good thing, Ape! Alright, you can now be as negative as you want to be!

      Delete
  9. Make up your mind, game: is it Jesse or Jessie?

    Thought I was having deja vu as you progressed from hate->loathe->despise->question sanity, since you used the same phrasing but without calling back to the previous instances. I might have worded the subsequent instances differently to maintain interest, e.g. "This is where my hatred for the game turned to loathing." Overall I liked your writing though, with the Silent Walls meme and Jackie Chan WTF, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or was that part of the gag? Making YOU, the reader, question your sanity?

      In all seriousness, I appreciate the feedback. Guess that joke missed the mark. Glad you enjoyed the posts!

      Delete
  10. "The Captain seems to be stuck in a time loop. So does the whole game, in fact, a bug that commenter Torch warned me about in the introduction post. "

    Yay, recognition!

    For some reason I don't have permission to view whatever the link wants to show me, but I guess it's supposed to point to the intro post..( ? )

    Anyway, good job getting through this. I also remember the pentagram being a pain in the behind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And...
      ...
      link fixed! (I think)

      The more comments I read the happier I am that I decided not to play along

      Delete
    2. @Torch

      Gotta give credit where credit's due, my friend.

      Delete
    3. @TBD

      Ehhhh . . . I'd say play the first few days and see if you then feel like progressing to the end.

      Delete
  11. Police Quest 2 is definitely best of series. I do still remember the confused ending of PQ3, it was very anti-climatic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Anonymous

      "Anti-climactic" is the best word for it. It comes out of left-field and has no emotional payoff. Some reviews say that the ending to Quest for Glory III similarly feels rushed and tacked-on, but I do not find that to be the case. Somehow, because they tied it in with the rest of the game, QfG III's endgame works a hell of a lot better than PQ III's.

      Delete
  12. Caption contest:
    Sonny be limbo, Sonny be quick
    Sonny go under limbo stick
    All around the limbo clock
    Hey, let's do the limbo rock

    ReplyDelete
  13. Caption contest:
    Okay... gonna get shot at later.

    Let's see... how did Neo do it?

    ReplyDelete