Police Quest - In pursuit of the Death Angel

Title		Police Quest - In pursuit of the Death Angel
Game Type       Adventure
Company         Sierra
Players         1
HD Installable  Yes (by hand)
Compatibillity  All
Submission      Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer

Who hasn't heard of Police Quest? This is one of those games which seems
to pop up again and again. It has probably been re-released a zillion times
and every time a magazine rounds up the top 100 games of all times (or
something like that), this title is bound to be there.
So, does Police Quest deserve being called a classic? I'm not entirely sure,
but read on and make up your own mind.

In Police Quest you play the part of Sonny Bonds, a police officer from
Lytton PD. Your mission is to free the city from a drug dealer called
The Death Angel. But instead of getting your gun and blasting the
criminals away, you have to do this with old-fashioned policework. You
know, finding witnesses, evidence and so on. Fortunately, you get to
arrest some people too. :)

It is perhaps not right of me to say that you've got a mission. When you
start the game, you're standing in the police station. The briefing
will begin soon, but you can enter the locker room and get your equipment
first. If you're fast, you can grab a quick shower too. When the briefing
starts, Sergeant John Dooley will tell you about a wanted car and two
teenagers in posession of drugs. As Lytton is a fairly peaceful city, two
people in posession of drugs (cocaine, by the way) in one day isn't usual.
There might be a new dealer in town.

After the briefing, you grab the keys to your patrol car and drive off.
After a while, you will notice a car ignoring a red light. You turn on the
siren and stop it. But this is as far as I'll go in spoiling your fun.
The fact is that this game is more about finding solutions to different
incidents that will happen during the day than a normal adventure where
you go around and make things happen yourself. This means that PQ (as I'll
call it from now on) is very linear. You won't get any possibillities to
change the story - if you do something else than what the game designers
had in mind, you'll probably end up dead. This is my first problem with
this game: most puzzles have only one solution, and most puzzles end your
game if they are not solved by the book.

You'll die (or get injured, fired or anything else which will end your
game) a lot in PQ. For instance, if you don't remember to walk in a circle
around your car before you take off (i.e. checking that all is ok), you'll
get a flat tire. In Lytton, this is reason enough to sack you. Game over.
But one thing which is good is that every time you die, you are given a
clue which hopefully helps you to avoid doing the same mistake again.
Saving often is neccessary if you want to get anywhere.

The fact that this game is very linear doesn't bother me. In fact, I quite
like the way PQ works, because it always allows you to concentrate purely
on the situation you're in, instead of wondering if you missed something
several hours earlier. You can almost always be certain that the solution
to the puzzle lies within the scene you're in.

As with Kings Quest, you control the game by text input. You can control
your character with the mouse as well, but most of the time will be spent
typing in commands or using the cursor keys. When a game is controlled
by text input, the parser is very important. Unfortunately, Police Quest
understands few words and interacting with people is difficult.
Another annoying thing is that the game sometimes wants you to type very
specialized commands. An example is when you stop a drunk driver. To find
out if he's really drunk, you'll have to type:

The manual usually describes how to do these things, but if you're like
me, this will lead to you having the manual constantly lying around instead
of it sitting safe in the game box.
Usually, though, the parser only recognizes simple sentences, which is
not good either.

PQ doesn't pause as you type commands. This is very unfortunate, because
you'll often get time limits. There are some hotkeys assigned to certain
commands, but that isn't enough. Still, this will only be a problem in
certain locations. Of course the fact that PQ is controlled by text input
might put a lot of people off because they don't like to type.
This is a pity, because they are missing a very nice game, but there
isn't much to do about that.

When you need to travel around Lytton, you'll do this in "action
sequences". You see the town from above and drive around in your car,
trying to avoid crashing into buildings and other cars. The driving
sequences are a little fun, but they can be very annoying at times. While
driving isn't really difficult, parking can be (depending on the location).
Other drivers often seem to ignore you, and if you crash you'll be dead no
matter if you were to blame for the accident or not. One thing which is
cool is that when you turn on the siren, you can ignore red lights.

The graphics are very simple by todays standards. The resolution is low,
and there are few colours on-screen. This will probably only bother you
if you're part of the Playstation/N64 generation, though.
The sound is really crap. It sounds as if Sierra tried very hard to make
the Amiga version sound as bad as the PC version. They almost succeeded.

The most important question is: Is Police Quest fun? My answer is yes.
Police Quest is fun to play. Despite all the criticism, this is one of the
few early Sierra games that I actually like playing even today.
In my eyes, this makes Police Quest a classic. So, if you can find PQ,
then you should buy it, especially if you like this sort of game.

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