Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Game 31: Mean Streets - A Room With a Clue

Tex Murphy Journal Entry 3: “I’ve made some decent progress today, questioning John Richards at his office and then coming across a goldmine of information in the warehouse that Linsky had been leasing. John was helpful enough to give me a copy of Linsky's autopsy, which revealed an anomaly that might turn out to be something important. In the warehouse I was able to gather the names of a bunch of scientists that may or may not have been involved in this Overlord project that Linsky was working on, and cracking into his computer and reading all his notes has revealed the moral dilemma that the professor was dealing with prior to his death. I have a lot of leads to follow up on now and while I imagine some of them will lead to dead ends, I’m confident at least one of them will give me a better idea what's really going on.”


That's two games I've played where the future San Francisco skyline is bright red.

I was really coming to grips with Mean Streets by the end of my second session, having organised all my leads into a spreadsheet and figured out that collecting navigation codes was what the game was really all about. I therefore entered my third session very eager to get on with questioning more people and hopefully finding a location or two that I could comb for clues. As I’d decided that my tactic to avoid lengthy speeder trips was to visit locations based on NC proximity, I checked to see which of my leads had a code close to Bash Dagot’s (4657). I’d already visited Carl Linsky’s apartment (4660) and the University (4663), so that made John Richards my next target (4670). He was the medical examiner that I was supposed to have already visited before coaxing information out of Bash, but better late than never I say! I hopped in my speeder and quickly made my way to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Once again it was only a couple of miles away, giving me the impression that my navigation code theory could very well be correct.


Um...John...you wanna wash your hands? I got time!

John Richards stood before me with what appeared to be blood all over his hands. It seems that general hygiene goes backwards in the next couple of decades! I began questioning him on all the names I had, including the ones I’d recently added to the list. When asked about Carl Linsky, he had the following to say: “Nothing odd about this one. He jumped off the Bridge, massive shock when he hit, lungs filled with water, dead as a rock. I’ll send you a copy of the Autopsy report.” I really didn’t get much else of interest out of him and since he didn’t appear to be hiding anything, I left his office. As soon as I appeared back in the speeder, the autopsy arrived in the fax. “External Examination: Body is cool to the touch with fixed vigor in the extremities. Neck head brain: A small burr hole in the skull indicates recent surgery. Structure at base of brain intact. Neck shows massive damage to spinal cord caused by severe impact. Internal Examination: The pulmonary system is purple and shows a large amount of blood and frothy fluid in the chest and stomach. Remarks: Death caused by massive shock and drowning. Time of death estimated at between 10:00 PM and 11:30 PM September 20.”


No-one thought that a surgically created hole in the skull might be worth checking out?

The small burr hole in the skull was an interesting development, particularly as Carl was clearly struggling with his mental faculties when he died. Perhaps someone messed with his brain? I guessed that I would find out eventually. With an NC of 4675, the Bridgeview Warehouse was my next destination, for which I’d discovered a lease in Carl’s apartment. On arrival I faced another shootout with gang members, which was no different to the first one I fought. Once I crossed the obligatory two screens with strength intact, I received a detailed description of the warehouse, and was informed that I entered a “small area closed off from the rest of the building”. At this point I watched Tex walk into a storage area and realised it was time for another room investigation. I began at the back left corner, where I came across a large black floor safe for which I didn’t have a key. There was a box on top of the crates that was apparently partly open, but I was told that I would need a ladder to reach it. I didn’t have one of those, so I moved onto another part of the room.


The background may have changed, but the shootout was identical.

There was quite a bit to look at on the desk in the centre of the room, and I started with the newspaper. There was a circle around an article describing the death of noted scientist Cal Davis, who apparently died in an accident in his lab. I wrote the name Cal Davis into my spreadsheet, and moved onto the desk itself. I uncovered a message in the fax machine which read: “Professor, they’re on to you. I suggest you disappear fast.” The name at the bottom of the fax message was Sonny Fletcher. I’d seen the initials S.F. previously on the papers containing encoded Nexus passwords in Carl’s apartment, so clearly that was written by Sonny also. Another name for the spreadsheet! It seemed I was going to be calling on Vanessa and Lee for nav codes again soon enough! I tried to operate the computer on the desk but was informed that it wouldn’t operate without a passcard, and the printer seemed useless also.


The Warehouse: Get comfortable. We'll be here a while!

I made my way to the back wall, where there was another desk next to a file cabinet. In the desk drawer I discovered a gold pocket watch with a street value of $600. I guessed that items like this one and the fruitcake I saw in Carl’s apartment were for selling purposes rather than to solve puzzles, but would hold onto it for a while to make sure. In the check ledger I found a deposit from MTC Corporation and a check to Sonny Fletcher, Private Investigator. So Sonny was also a detective! I then opened up a cabinet and discovered a half full bottle of Pepto Bismol (which Google tells me is medicine for an upset stomach), a can of band-aids, and some radiation pills. Interestingly, when I picked up the band-aids, the message stated “You get the can of assorted band-aids that contained a Nexus passcard.” Huh!? I had no way of viewing my inventory while not in the speeder, so had no idea whether or not I was supposed to get the card out of the can prior to picking it up. I hoped for the best and continued my search.


Our hero remains optimistic to the very end!

October the 3rd was circled on the calendar on the back wall, and the word “Doomsday” was written above it. Doomsday? Interesting! When I opened the file cabinet, a message popped up saying: “Using the key found at Linsky’s home, you open the file cabinet drawer.” It seemed Mean Streets was going to apply items to puzzles without any need for me to use my brain. At least it informed me of the key’s use in this instance! In the drawer I came across a list of scientists “that may be working on Overlord.” Their names were 1 – John Klauss, 2 – Maurice Gribble and 3 – David Pope. That’s three more names on the list of leads for which I was going to need nav codes. With another section of the room completed, I walked over to the fork lift and began searching there. Along with the fork lift itself, there was a rat trap along with yet more crates. I swear there are more crates in this game than Half-Life!


Well, then I may or may not bother tracking them down!

I picked up the rat trap, and then looked at the crates. One of them had “an uneven hole near the floor”, so I opened it. “You reach inside the hole to open it further, and a large black rat grabs hold of your finger. You shake it furiously and it finally lets go. When you pull your hand out, a small chunk of your forefinger is missing.” Well that sucks! Was I supposed to use the rat trap on the crate first? Given there’s no way to actually apply items in the game, I couldn’t think of a way that I might have done that had I thought to. Merely opening the crate would have been enough if that were the case surely. Should I restore? Would the bite fester and eventually kill me? The only place that I’ve been able to save my game is in the speeder, so I would have to restore to back outside the warehouse and go through the shootout and entire investigation again. I decided to ignore the bite and hope it was just inserted for dramatic effect. There was nothing to do with the fork lift, so I moved onto the odd looking machine on the right hand side of the room.


Is the sequel called Mean Streets 2: The Search For the Missing chuck of Forefinger?

The large machine was called an Alpha-Wave Processor, although once again I didn’t appear to be able to do anything with it. The crates next to it held 100 rounds of ammunition though, so I happily picked them up. The last section of the room (near the entrance) contained even more crates, a step ladder, and a storage shelf. Within the crates I found 3-1 oil and the key to the safe, both of which I picked up. I then grabbed the step ladder as well and then opened the storage shelf. Inside was a small piece of masking tape with the word “blue-bishop” on it. So just as at Carl Linsky’s apartment, within the warehouse I’d come across a bunch of puzzles that required missing items, only to discover exactly what I needed mere metres away. So far the adventure elements of Mean Streets have been a little on the easy side to say the least! Hopefully there are some more difficult challenges to come!


Does it say "TO UNLOCK THE SAFE THAT HAS IMPORTANT SHIT IN IT" on it?

I took the safe key back over to the floor safe and opened it, revealing Carl Linsky’s life insurance policy from The Transamerica Insurance Company. The beneficiary was of course his daughter Sylvia and the value one million dollars. I was then able to use the step ladder that I’d just found on the other side of the room to get to the half opened box on the top of the crates. Inside I found an antique lamp with a street value of $1500. Another item to pawn for cash! Right, the only thing left to do in the warehouse was to see if I could get into the computer system. I walked over to it and tried to turn it on again. This time Tex swiped the passcard I'd found in the band-aid can through the slot at the bottom of the monitor, at which point I was asked to enter the “Blue Password”. The password was pretty frickin obvious after finding the tape with the words “blue-bishop” on it. I entered the word “bishop” and gained access! I’ll insert all the project notes that I discovered in the computer below, instead of reciting them word for word.

  

This last screen describes a few adventure games I've played!

By now it was very clear that Carl had wanted out of Overlord, and was concerned that he would be eliminated once his part in the project was complete. I left the warehouse at this point, and immediately gave all the new leads’ names to Vanessa (Cal Davis, Sonny Fletcher, David Pope, John Klaus and Maurice Gribble). She was able to send me information on three of the five, meaning I would need to turn to Lee Chin for the remaining two. She faxed me a news article regarding Cal Davis’ death which described how he accidentally ingested cyanide while conducting an experiment in his Santa Barbara home. The article revealed three useful pieces of information. Firstly, Cal Davis’ NC is 3720. Secondly, the police detective on the case was Smiley Monroe who can be found at NC 3614. Finally, the close friend of Cal’s that discovered his body was named Aaron Sternwood. Man, every lead seemed to be leading to numerous others! I was feeling pretty fortunate to have started my spreadsheet.


So you're sure that Cal never drank cyanide before Mr Sternwood? Are you absolutely sure!?

Two more faxes came in from Vanessa. The first one informed me that David Pope lives in Eureka at NC 6211 and the second one that Maurice Gribble lives in Palm Springs at NC 8231. I then called up Vanessa again to ask about Aaron Sternwood, only to receive a fax telling me to talk to Smiley Monroe. I figured I'd try to collect the whole set of NC's and called Lee Chin to ask her about Sonny Fletcher and John Klaus, whom Vanessa hadn’t been able to tell me anything about. It took a $600 bribe to get her to tell me that I should “Talk to Delores Lightbody. She may know where to find John Klaus. They were lovers once.” It then took a whopping $1000 to convince her to inform me that “Sonny Fletcher stays at some run-down apartment in L.A.. Try NC 5170.”


Smiley Monroe is a man? Surely you'd change your name once you realised you wanted to be a cop!

This post has been of typical length for me, but all I’ve managed to cover is my questioning of John Richards and my investigation at the warehouse (along with the subsequent attempts to track down all the leads I’d uncovered there). Still, I’m determined to stick to the same level of detail that I’ve held for the past dozen or so games on the blog. I guess there are just going to be some games where this level of detail is going to drag things out, for which I apologise. I’m really hoping Mean Streets opens up a bit more; otherwise I could be doing this for about fifteen more posts, depending on how long the game is. Every room has dozens of clues and leads to sift through, yet the majority of them have been used to solve puzzles within the room itself rather than at other locations. There’s an implied level of complexity, but in reality everything has been surprisingly simplistic so far. I’m still very keen to push on though, so hopefully that's a feeling that remains right through to the game's completion.


It looks like Police Detective Steve Clements will be my next destination!

Session Time: 0 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 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!

24 comments:

  1. *munches popcorn*

    Seems like I just managed to edge past you in my own playthrough before this post came out. Haven't been as structured in shortening my speeder trips though, might copy your strategy there to minimize the time used.

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    1. Aaaaand I'm done. It was a bit of a struggle at the end, had to retry quite a few times to trg bhg gur qbbe va gvzr. Thankfully I managed to vachg gur pbqrf svefg gvzr guebhtu jvgu whfg 2 frpbaqf gb fcner.

      It was a fair bit longer than I remembered though, and also more fun despite the obvious deficiencies. Tip: Taste most things (including gur ivarf naq gur yvatrevr for some great comments. :p )

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    2. Lars-Erik: Since you've played this game before, can you say jub jnf gur ovt onq thl ng gur raq? V ernyyl pbhyqa'g pbapragengr ba uvf cvpgher gung fhqqrayl nccrnerq ba gur fperra naq V unq ab gvzr gb ernq jung ur jnf fnlvat, orpnhfr V jnf fb ohfl jevgvat qbja gur pbqrf.

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    3. Yup, vg jnf npghnyyl yrggre qbg Fnvag Tvqrba, gur "sbezre" urnq ubapub bs Tvqrba Ragrecevfrf. Fb zhpu sbe orvat vaabprag naq abg xabjvat nalguvat. Ol gur jnl, vg jnf nyfb zragvbarq ng gur raqvat fperra gung ur jnf neerfgrq gelvat gb syrr gur pbhagel.

      Ohg lrnu, V fgehttyrq gb abgvpr zlfrys va nyy gur fgerff.

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    4. Erzvaqf zr bs gur raq bs Space Marine jura lbh ner snyyvat qbja gur tvnag gbjre, fighting the demon va n dhvpx gvzr rirag, naq rirelguvat nebhaq lbh vf ERNYYL ornhgvshyyl qbar, ohg qnza, lbh pna'g ybbx ng vg, nf lbh unir gb jngpu sbe xrlf synfuvat ba gur fperra.

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  2. Those speeder sequences sound tedious. Have you tried DOSBox's turbo mode (holding Alt+F12)? It's really useful for fast-forwarding through boring sections like these.

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    1. Now that I've started visiting locations close to each other, it's much more bearable. It now takes about 30 seconds to reach my destination in most instances, which is fine.

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  3. *has strange desire to eat popcorn*

    This game sounds like it has an intriguing story, I really might have to check it out and the other Tex Murphy games.
    For those who have played them, does the second game use the same travel system. I know Under a Killing Moon and the other one (which name I don't remember) are quite different.

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    Replies
    1. Nope, Martian Memorandum is more standard adventure game, without both the speeder flying and shooting parts.

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    2. The ones you don't remember are The Pandora Directive (one of the best games ever) and Overseer (which is a remake of Mean Streets)

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  4. You know, playing Gemini Rue, I always found that the shooting sections in the game seemed a little out of place. I wonder if the game was paying homage to Mean Streets :)

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  5. Another Kickstarter adventure game it seems: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/432712414/ar-k-an-old-school-game-with-a-new-twist

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  6. I noticed that Amnesia: The Dark Descent is on sale at Steam for only $4.99. Since many people have raved about that game, 75% off seems a good time to snatch it up.

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  7. I must say, this game gets bonus points for being about a scientist.

    Even if alpha particles are much, much more particle-like then wave-like.

    Question, since it wasn't clear. Do you have to drive the car during the car sequences, or can you browse the web or something like that?

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    Replies
    1. You can set it on autopilot and do whatever you like in the meantime.

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    2. Considering the head-meddling angle of the game´s plot, I thought the game was referencing this:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_wave

      rather than alpha particles

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  8. Sales people missed (I think):

    GoG: 7th Guest.
    Gemini Rue

    Steam:
    The 39 Steps: Hey, it is based on a novel by a former Governor General of Canada, written to pass the long, cold winters. How can it be bad?

    Post Mortem: Damn, that looks creepy

    Still Life, and Still Life 2: Also creepy. I hope Trickster likes horror games.

    Question about the rules: if a game is new to Mac, does that count for CAPS? Or do we all give Mac the respect it deserves (Very little)

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    1. The only good apple is a Granny Smith.

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    2. I like Royal Gala myself....

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    3. Can't beat a sweet, crispy and juicy Fuji.

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    4. I'd say it's a tie between Granny Smith and Royal Gala.

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    5. I knew I was opening can of worms with that comment

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    6. To be serious for a moment though; we're all here because we're pro-adventure games, not because we're anti-anything. For that reason, anything that promotes adventure gaming should be encouraged, regardless of platform.

      I vote for CAPs for old adventure games on new platforms, but maybe at a reduced rate?

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  9. No no, wormy apples are the worst type, you don't want to eat those ones.

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