Saturday, 17 October 2015

Police Quest III – Sonny on Patrol

Written by Alex

So this is what it feels like to be a highway patrol officer!

After booking crazy Brian Forbes, Sonny gets called to Highway 41 near the 7th Street on-ramp to help Officer Morales with a violator who refused to sign their citation. Apparently, such a situation may require a supervisor. Whipping out, I mean, opening the PDF of the game manual, I check out Section III, Traffic Officer, Part 12: “Refusal to sign a citation.” Anyone refusing to sign must be advised that a signature is not an admission of guilt but only a promise to appear in court. If the violator still won’t sign, then they earn a one-way trip to the klink and have to post bond before being released. This rule, however, has one specific exception: “Pregnant women and the elderly. Advise the violator as above. If the violator still refuses to sign the citation, call a supervisor to the scene.” So given that Morales needs a supervisor, I’m dealing with either a pregnant woman or a senior citizen. Isn’t this exciting!




On the scene, I heed both the manual and Sonny’s closing remarks during the morning briefing and approach the violator’s car from the right-hand side. Failing to do so results in a grisly death I’d rather not show here. Getting safely to the stopped vehicle, I ascertain that the driver is indeed a pregnant woman.



Sonny talks to an angry Morales, who is none too happy to see him. Morales claims that the motorist began running her mouth at her. The motorist says that Morales had been verbally abusive, and that she refuses to sign anything for Morales on principle. Morales, for her part, is hot to take the violator to jail. This puts Sonny on the horns of his second dilemma on what is essentially his first day on the job as a Detective Sergeant. Isn’t being the boss great?



Incarcerate her or cite her for refusing to sign? The game leaves the choice up to the player. The correct course of action is glaringly obvious.






This, like the other decision to be made with Morales, is pretty interesting for an adventure game in that it doesn’t involve getting an item or defeating a foe. I only wonder if such decisions will have plot implications going forward. I’m pretty sure Sonny has made an enemy of Morales by this point.

The situation resolved, I get back in my car intending to go back to the station, but miss my turn and end up rolling down the freeway to the end of Sonny’s jurisdiction, whereupon he promptly turns around—using those handy cops-only lanes cut into the middle of the highway, I’m sure—and cruises down Highway 41 in the other direction. Inadvertently, I am doing what the manual is telling me to do in Section III, Part 8: “Patrol the freeway at 55mph and pay attention to the flow of traffic.” Before I know it, I come across a driver going too slow in the fast lane and causing a line of angry motorists to form behind him.




The cars kind of remind me of Hot Wheels.

Dang, look at that ride! And yes, if you’re wondering, it is bopping up and down thanks to some muy caliente hydraulics. And check at that paint job! I’ll bet you anything that the driver is a paragon of taste, class, and distinction.


Yup.

Sonny gets the guy’s license and brings it back to the patrol car to print up a Form 900 citation. I make sure to enter the proper time, based on the clock that appears in the upper-left portion of the screen every time Sonny enters a new area, and cite Mr. Juan Ruiz for “Driving too slow in the fast lane,” vehicle code 21654. Upon receiving the citation and his license back, Mr. Ruiz threatens to contest the ticket. We shall see if he follows through with this or not.






Of course now it’s Judge Marilyn Milian.

With no other direction from the game, I get back in the patrol car and keep cruising the freeway, although I confess, much like Sammy Hagar, I don’t drive 55. It’s at this time I realize Sonny can turn on the tracking computer. It doesn’t track anybody per se, but it does give a rudimentary map of Lytton with Sonny’s position shown as a blinking light. Very handy, I must say.



And I think I made the right choice, because Sonny soon encounters another violator, this time a car driving way too fast.



The offender in question is the very loquacious, and very horny, Mr. Orpheus Hanley.



Mr. Hanley tells Sonny that he’s in no condition to drive due to his, er, how shall we put this delicately . . . intense desire for female companionship. While Sonny may sympathize, he still asks for Mr. Hanley’s license and registration.

Here, I make an error. I click “Talk” on Mr. Hanley after getting the license and registration just to see if he has any other humorous things to say. Instead, Sonny returns Mr. Hanley’s stuff and lets him off with a warning. An obviously ecstatic Orpheus Hanley thanks Sonny and goes on his merry way. This doesn’t sit right with me, as Mr. Hanley was driving way too fast. I restore and cite him for violation 22349: “Exceeding the maximum speed limit.” Why? BECAUSE I CAN.


Something something absolute power something something.

With still no clue from the game to do otherwise, I go on with the patrol! It doesn’t take long for another speeding driver to whiz by.


Whiz.

Is the game really going to throw two speeders at me in a row? That’s a little uninventive, but not out of the realm of possibility for a traffic cop to encounter. But what’s this? This time a large man gets out of the car, and reaches for something in his pocket that Sonny can’t quite see . . .





It’s a badge! Argh! The guy is an undercover cop and Sonny just kept him from making a bust! The guy isn’t mad at all; he pretty much commends Sonny for doing his job and then heads back into his car and speeds off. This is a pretty interesting situation, one I’m sure happens more often than we think in larger cities. I just wonder if this character will come back and if this incident will mean anything later on, or if it’s just put in here as one of those things a cop may experience. I suppose there could have been a wrong way to handle this situation . . .


Like this, maybe?

. . . but it’s a good thing Sonny Bonds goes BY THE BOOK!

Back on patrol, it doesn’t take too long for Sonny to come upon a driver weaving in and out of traffic quite erratically. I switch on the flashers and pull the offender over. As Sonny approaches the car, he can tell that the guy is pretty wasted, especially since he invites Sonny to drink with him.



Don’t most drunk drivers, I don’t know, try to deny that they’re drunk when a cop asks them? In any event, Sonny invites this fine upstanding citizen out of the car to perform a field sobriety test. Unfortunately, you don’t get to ask him to recite the alphabet backwards, but you do rather hilariously get to wag Sonny’s finger back and forth while asking the drunk guy to follow it only with his eyes.


First instance of fingering in an adventure game?

Yeah, the guy’s trashed. No choice but to haul him in. Hope he doesn’t get car sick.


Better here than in the cruiser

Sonny cuffs and searches the guy, Mr. Joseph Hoss, and brings him back to the station as night falls. The routine is the same as when bringing crazy Mr. Forbes into lock-up: Gun in the locker, take the key, escort the prisoner in, enter the booking code, and toss his ass in the slammer. Before the formal booking, though, Sonny has Mr. Hoss use the breathalyzer in order to insure that he is, indeed, drunk as a skunk.


First instance of blowing in an adventure game?

I book him on vehicle code 23152: “Driving under the influence of intoxicants.” Sayonara, Mr. Hoss. Hope you stay off the road for a good, long while.

Just then, a cut scene begins with a typo-laden title card: “Meanwhile, at the OakTree [sic] Mall, Sonny’s wife, Marie [sic] is just getting off work.”
















An urgent announcement from dispatch orders Sonny to call.



Dutifully, he returns to the office to see what the situation is.



Not knowing who was involved, Sonny gets in his cruiser and sets out for the Oak Tree Mall.

Points: 93 out of 460.
Inventory: Gun, handcuffs, flashlight, road flares, nightstick, wallet with $10.00, computer access card, notebook.

Session Time: 1 hour.
Total Time: 3 hours.

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 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!

46 comments:

  1. So the Kindred is... a street gang? Cause that must be who those shady characters are right? Would be rather anticlimactic if the protagonist girlfriend gets hurt by some unrelated street gang instead of the overall villain. I thought it was gonna be a space alien cult dealing in drugs that Brian Forbes escaped from and would explain his nonsense.

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    1. I never thought it was the name of a gang. Good one, Niklas! Although gur tnzr yngre anzrf gur phyg "Fbaf bs Qnexarff," be fbzrguvat ryfr purrfl yvxr gung. "Gur Xvaqerq" jbhyq or n zhpu orggre anzr.

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    2. And lest I forget, "space alien cult" totally should have been the plot of Police Quest V: Jim Wall's Revenge.

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    3. I'm just guessing, could as easy have been another serial killer or some good sounding word from marketing. Story-wise it feels rather slow that it takes 3 hours to set up an overarching villain of this game when it could have been hinted at like in Gabriel Knight or this scene with another victim as an intro to the violence of street gangs.

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    4. A little slow looking back, yes, but so far it hasn't felt that way. The attack on Marie comes at the end of day 1, which gets the plot moving quickly enough.

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  2. Officer Alex made the rookie mistake of interfering with an undercover officer's investigation. What is your course of action? 1. REPRIMAND 2. SUSPENSION 3. SLAP ON THE WRIST 4. HAUL YOUR OWN BUTT TO JAIL

    Look at me, I'm a Police Quest puzzle designer!

    This situation could have been avoided by: ehaavat gur qhqr'f yvprafr cyngr vagb gur pbzchgre orsber fgbccvat uvz (lbh pna ybbx ng uvf cyngrf ol pyvpxvat gur ybbx vpba ba gur pne sebz gur qevivat vagresnpr fperra).

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    1. Yes, it could have been, but I think the game doesn't really make it very clear that vg'f cbffvoyr gb ybbx nalguvat va gur ebnq ivrj - naq rfcrpvnyyl gung lbh pbhyq frr gur yvprapr cyngrf bs gur iruvpyrf.

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    2. Seriously? That works? Should I have been doing that with every car? And, more importantly, how was I supposed to know that?

      *channels best 80s movie hero impression shouting villain name into the sky* JIM WALLLLLLLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    3. I think I found this out in the hint book to be honest! There may be some passing obscure reference to it in the manual as well, but definitely not obvious.

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    4. And speaking of ol' Jimmy Walls, does he play the drunk dude? They definitely look alike in that breathalyser shot!

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    5. It does look like him, but apparently not...

      http://www.giantbomb.com/robert-fischbach/3040-1790/images/

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    6. Yeah. Jim Walls sticks himself in his games enough already. I don't think he'd deign to play the drunk dude.

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  3. It's pretty easy to skip this whole sequence just by driving away from the motorway after you've dealt with Morales and the pregnant lady - this is what I did when I played this game for the first time. I am not even sure if the game gives any reason why you should be driving around the motorway, so it just seemed logical to go back to station - then the game just shows you the animation of Marie being killed.

    I don't know if it is possible to finish the game without doing the traffic patrol sequence, but it sure does have some consequences to the future events in the game.

    What I do know is that it's possible to make you dead ended, if you write down a wrong time in a ticket - I hope you've been careful Alex!

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    1. If I recall correctly, you need to hit the highway for at least a couple of the offenses - if you don't, you're unable to finish one of the puzzles later in the game. I could be wrong here, but that's what my memory states (I kinda have a recollection of needing to meet the undercover cop somehow?) I'd say that pulling over the undercover guy is the right thing to do regardless, as clearly his cover would be blown if they saw him not get chased by a traffic cop.

      This is probably the most enjoyable part of the game, really. I love the characters they manage to introduce as throwaways in the 'traffic' section - in spite of the majority of it having to take place in the seat of a car which is clearly the worst possible place to be in Police Quest 3. I don't think I need to have a forcibly positive stamp here - the game actually (kinda) comes into its own. Probably the best part is actually the attack on Marie - it has that very 'something's really going down' feel to it which it's hard not to at least give a little credit to.

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    2. @Ilmari,

      I was careful, as I've already cnffrq gur genssvp pbheg frdhrapr, naq cerinvyrq bire Ze. Ehvm. But you mean to tell me that blowing that could have dead-ended me? How?

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    3. @Aperama,

      Interesting. I've been wondering about that section since, as I said, I did traffic patrol by accident. From my last time playing 15 years ago or so, I remember this sequence, but not when it came during the game, or how I got into it.

      I do have to say that this part was enjoyable. On the whole, I've been having fun with this game. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm farther than I got 15 years ago. You'll read why soon.

      And yes, the attack on Marie is pretty serious. The game gets dark, fast.

      And lastly, did I dead-end myself by pulling over the undercover officer?

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    5. When I replayed the game a few months ago, I totally missed the whole highway patrol section and I did indeed dead-end myself. I think it had more to do with a glitch of some sort - yvxr lbh arrq gb tb gb gur pbhegubhfr gb qrny jvgu Ehvm gb zbir ba gb gur arkg qnl va gur tnzr, ohg lbh arire fgbccrq Ehvm va gur svefg cynpr fb gur pbhegubhfr frdhrapr arire unccraf naq gur arkg qnl arire pbzrf...something like that if I'm remembering correctly. (Sorry - deleted the initial reply cause I forgot to cypher the potential spoiler)!

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    6. I don't think you've dead-ended yourself, since I have pulled over the officer and just lost some points for it.

      I am pretty sure that lbh ybfr gur pbheg pnfr naq trg fhfcraqrq, vs lbh snvy gb unir chg gur pbeerpg gvzr va gur gvpxrg, fb lbh'yy unir gb onpxgenpx pbhcyr bs va-tnzr qnlf.

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    7. V npghnyyl unir n zrzbel bs gur vffhr orvat jvgu gur 'pevzr fprar' znc guvat jurer lbh raq hc univat gb svaq gur pragre cbvag jurer pevzrf ner rznangvat sebz. Vg whfg qbrfa'g jbex vs lbh qba'g qb rirelguvat lbh pna va qnl bar (be ng yrnfg va fbzr irefvbaf bs gur tnzr).

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    8. Wait...they killed her? That's not at all clear from the screenshots.

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    9. @The Mara

      Read and find out...muah ha ha ha ha......*cough cough wheeze* ahem

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  4. And, oh yes, Orpheus Hanley is credited as making music and sounds for many Sierra games.

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    1. You're right! And a lot of other video games as well. Pretty talented guy!

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  5. This is great. Jonesing for more.

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    1. Well thank you kindly! I'm glad you're enjoying it!

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  6. And in today's episode, Orpheus Hanley will be played by Al Madrigal

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Madrigal

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    1. Dang, good one! That's worth at least 100 CAPs.

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  7. Were they still doing that old-fashioned and unscientific sobriety test in 1991 in the USA? Our cops were using breathalyzers long before then.

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    1. Well, seeing as how I was 10 in 1991, in my experience I have to say that yes. Yes they were.

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    2. ... You were pulled over when you were ten? I'm not sure what worries me more - that you were driving or that the police were more worried that you were drunk than anything else.

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    3. I'd imagine that the field sobriety test is merely a pretence to book someone, since you'd already know that they're driving dangerously or seem drunk. That way you can do a simple test and get them off the road. Of course breathalysers are much cheaper now, so every traffic cop should have one (but perhaps in small towns in the 80s/90s this wouldn't be the case).

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    4. @Aperama

      No, I wasn't drinking. Don't be absurd. My buddy was. Even at age 10, we knew better than to let the drunk one drive.

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    5. @Andy

      Right. I don't think we had the portable breathalyzers in 1991. Generally, though, smelling alcohol is enough probable cause to search a motorist.

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  8. It might seem weird, but I really liked the bit on patrol. It gives you a little taste of the "day in the life" of Sonny Bonds, before the main plot barges on through.

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    1. I read the news today, oh boy...

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    2. @Andy?

      If it's weird to enjoy this question, then consider me Gonzo. This part--and the game as a whole, so far--really does a good job of evoking the feelings of being a police officer, albeit in supremely abridged form.

      @The Mara,

      Beatles references are always worth CAPs.

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  9. Wow. So many comments! I'm feeling so unloved over there on the Willy Beamish posts. ;)

    I can't help but fear that this title is a reference to Police Quest IV: Citizens on Patrol. What a fine 80s "gem"!

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    1. No, it's not, unfortunately. However, if there's one thing that Police Quest III could use, it's more Steve Guttenberg.

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    2. You know you can't fight the Sierra and Lucasarts juggernauts in this period, Joe.

      I'm surprised Guttenberg was still doing Police Academies by this point, but I think that was his last one.

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  10. Guybrush complains about modern adventure games: http://bitsandbytescomic.tumblr.com/post/131286872330/143-those-old-times-with-monkey-islands

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    1. Haha love the code wheel reference. I recall Chet the CRPGAddict playing some games recently with code wheels and such.

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  11. Some nice 80's hair on Sonny's wife.

    I'm kinda surprised that Sonny is sent out to look into an attack on his own wife, isn't that against police regulations, or is that something just made up for Hollywood?

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    1. If it's not in the game manual, then it's not real police procedure.

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    2. Nah, it's not against the rules if the victim had not been identified. It's a mall. Anybody could've been hit. It could've been YOU. Mua ha... mua ha,,, mua HAHAHAHA!!!

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