Set in the realm of joy, the people of Lytton are plagued only by aching facial muscles, and not anthrax as we had hoped. Sorry...wrong game!
You’re probably looking at that introduction and wondering how this post could possibly be as long as it is when all I did was collect my stuff, go to the shooting range for a bit, then leave the station. Well all I can say is that getting through the starting scenes in Police Quest 2 was umore difficult than putting Jessie Bains behind bars in the first place. I’ve had to put in a massive effort, and I’m not afraid to admit that I considered asking for assistance numerous times. The only thing that stopped me was the embarrassment of having to ask for help this early in the game and the fact I could see other readers making progress with no reported difficulty. In hindsight there would have been no shame in asking for help, and that’s a lesson I’ll take into future games. I’ll trust myself more after this experience, and all I can do is apologise that I have to make you guys relive it with me...
It appears a promotion wasn't the only thing Sonny got between games. He's gone from black to blonde...again!
The original Police Quest ended just after I’d brought the dangerous criminal Jessie Bains to justice. The intro to the second game let me know that I’d been promoted to Homicide Detective as a result, but gave me no other information as to what had taken place in the meantime, or even how long it had been. The game started with me arriving at the station in my car. Being pretty used to Sierra games by now, I typed “look” to see if there was anything of interest in the car that I needed to take with me into the station. Since the description made no reference of anything of value, I took the keys, got out, and locked the car. I immediately had flashbacks to having to check every vehicle on every side before entering it in Police Quest 1, but since I was leaving the car behind this time I went straight into the station.
"Check car"...walk around side of vehicle..."check car"...walk around side of vehicle...
Once in the station, I was confronted by four doors, an evidence window and a corridor off to the right. I investigated the evidence window, found there was nothing I could do there at this stage, so I did what I always do when given the choice of more than one door. I entered the first one on the left, with a plan to explore each one in a clockwise direction. Through the first door was the Narcotics department. I spoke to everyone there and looked at everything, but couldn’t find anything to do. I did see that there was a file cabinet of suspects and victims I could go through in the corner, but with no orders yet, it seemed pointless. I decided to move onto the second door, which turned out to be the Homicide department…my department!
Are we looking through a keyhole? That's one strange shaped key!
In this department I met my colleagues. Of particular note were my partner Keith Robinson and my boss Captain Fletcher Hall. I was quickly informed that Jessie Bains was back in town for a trial, but very shortly afterward that the Captain announced that Bains had taken a jailer hostage and escaped custody! Keith and I would form a task force called Target, and our first instructions were to “answer all calls that might be even remotely connected to this dirtbag” and to “find a mug shot of that punk, and get on this immediately!” Surprised at how quickly the game was moving, I wondered whether I should jump straight onto this mission or spend more time exploring the station. Then I realised I didn’t even have my gun yet, so I wasn’t going anywhere!
Target?! Can't we be called something a little less ominous?!
Investigating the Homicide department more thoroughly, I came across another filing cabinet. Inside was a file for Jessie Bains, with a photo attached. Remembering the Captain’s orders to find a mug shot, I added the photo to my inventory. I then took a closer look at my desk and found a few items of interest. Firstly, I uncovered a wallet and a letter in my drawer. Examining the wallet unveiled a scuba diving certificate and the letter appeared to be a love letter from Marie Wilkins, who I assume is now my girlfriend. Secondly, I found a subpoena in my document tray that ordered me to attend the trial of Bains at court. Unlikely to happen at this point! Finally, I turned on the computer and tried to access the various directories on there. I was asked to enter a password to access either Criminal or Personnel, so I wasn’t able to go any further with those, but I was able to get into the Sierra folder. This however turned out to be one of Sierra’s cunning marketing ploys, giving descriptions for pretty much every Sierra release of the mid-eighties.
Strangely this is almost identical to how my C drive looks these days
The next room I visited was the locker room. I was a bit surprised to find no showers there, but was happy that I wasn’t going to be required to shower every time I got changed the way I was in Police Quest 1. It didn’t take me long to find my locker, but opening it wasn’t going to be as simple as I’d hoped. I was required to enter a three digit code! I hadn’t seen a code anywhere, and began wondering where on earth a police officer would leave a locker combination code. Assuming the code must be in one of the locations I hadn’t visited yet, I moved on. The fourth and final door led to another department, this time being the Burglary department. Once again I spoke to everyone there and looked at everything, but came up with nothing of use. There was only one place left to explore, the corridor.
I swear some of the guys on the toilet in these Sierra games are dead.
Down the corridor was a shooting range. I spoke to the officer at the desk, and even entered the range, but without a gun, I wasn’t really going to be able to do much. This left me pretty confused, as I literally had no idea where I was supposed to find the combination for my locker. I briefly considered trying every number between 1 and 999, but decided against it for a plethora of reasons. Clearly I’d missed something, and would need to go back and investigate every area to see what I could come up with, starting with the car. I hopped back into my vehicle and tried typing “open glove box”. It worked, and I found within a business card and registration papers. There was no mentioned of the glove box when I examined the car’s interior earlier, proving very early on that Police Quest 2 was not going to list every item of use in room descriptions. What makes this extra interesting though is that the glove box was not even visible on the screen, so it really does take some guesswork. I added the card to my inventory, but wasn’t able to remove the rego papers from the car.
Why...thanks for telling ME!
Having decided to investigate each screen as thoroughly as possible, I searched the hallway inside the station with renewed vigour. After typing “look”, I noticed that the description mentioned the doorways, the evidence window, and a counter! What counter? There was a barely visible corner of what could be considered a counter coming out from around the corner, but surely that wouldn’t be of interest. I typed “look at counter” and received a message telling me that “the counter once held a nice coffee maker”. OK. I walked up to the evidence window and typed “look at counter” and received a message telling me that “built into the back of the counter are locked storage bins. One of them has your name on it.” What? Suffice to say that I was a little bit confused at this point, and it took me a few minutes to figure out that this was one of those classic Sierra line of sight puzzles. The counter was indeed the counter that was almost entirely concealed by the angle of the view, and only by being in the top half of the screen could I see the storage bins. (Edit: I failed to mention here that the field kit is in the storage bin, which is a vital object for the completion of the game.)
Oh I know this one...it's Sonny Bonds right!?
Putting aside my disgust and promising myself that I’d learn from the valuable lessons Police Quest 2 was currently teaching me (i.e. always assume that this game is a bitch), I began my trip through each room determined to be as thorough as I could. I still had no success in the Narcotics department, but I did find something in the Homicide department that had avoided me the first time around. This time I had no-one to blame but myself! On my first visit to the room, I’d taken note of the noticeboard at the back of the room, but when I typed “look at board”, I hadn’t realised I was only looking at the one just behind the Captain to the left of the screen. When I walked right up to the board at the back and typed the same command, I was rewarded with the keys for an unmarked car.
A most suitable way for a narcotics detective to communicate.
So it was that ended up back in front of that locker, having no idea what the combination was. I looked over all the items I’d discovered since my last visit to the change room, and one stood out as a real possibility. Would I have written the code to my locker on the back of my business card? I typed “look at back of card” and was sadly only shown the front of the card (that says “LPD Sonny Bonds Detective”). Since that idea failed, I had no choice but to continue my exploration of the police station, aimlessly talking to people and looking at the same things over and over again. I also tried giving the mug shot of Bains to Captain Hall every different way I could think of, but nothing succeeded. I was well and truly stuck and almost ready to ask the readers for assistance. It was then that I saw that some of you fine readers were playing along. Not only that, but you'd gone further than me, with no mention of being stuck!
MacDuff seemed to be finding the game relatively easy, which made me more determined than ever to succeed
My competitive juices kicked in and I prepared for one more push at getting the combination. The business card really did seem like the obvious (well somewhat obvious) place for the code to be, so I tried typing “turn card over”. Well would you believe it! “Look on back of card” didn’t work but “turn the card over” did, and the code was there!!!! To make matters even worse, if I type “look on back of card” after I’ve successfully seen the code with the other command, it works! WTF? It may not be as bad as the parser issues I faced in Larry 2, but I was feeling pretty pissed off at wasting the better part of half an hour trying to find a code when I knew exactly where it was all along. Taking a few deep breaths, I tried to appreciate the fact that I now knew the code, and opened my locker. By this stage, I had a grand total of 17 points after an hour and a half of hard work!
Look at the curves on that baby! I bet it packs a decent punch too!
Inside the locker I found the gun I needed, some handcuffs, some ammo, and a picture of Marie in a bikini. I took all but the photo (which can't be removed), and prepared myself to hit the road. I had the feeling that the first location I should visit would be the jail, since that’s where Bains had kidnapped the jailer and escaped. After my experiences with the first game in the series, I was certain I would have to check the unmarked car on every side before getting in, but that turned out to be unnecessary in the sequel. It appears that either baddies had stopped car bombing between 1987 and 1988, or the game developers realised how annoying this feature was in the first game. I’m actually thinking it must be the former, since when I tried to get in the car I was told that I really should put my field kit in the trunk. I sighed and followed the game’s instruction.
If you say so!
Believe it or not, none of the struggles I’d had so far could compare with what I was about to face. When I got in the car, Keith hurriedly joined me, and we prepared to go. But then...I received a message through the radio telling me to come back to the station. “You haven’t followed your orders. Get back here NOW!” What now?! Did I misread my orders? I then appeared in front of Captain Hall where I got a working down like a small child that’d disobeyed its parent’s commands. I checked my screenshots to see exactly what my orders were. “I want you boys to answer any and all calls that might be even remotely connected to this dirtbag. Find a mug shot of that punk, and get on this immediately!” Was I supposed to answer calls somehow? Was there a radio somewhere I was supposed to pick up like in the first game? Was I supposed to do something with the mug shot I found in the file?
Would you mind just repeating what those orders were? Perhaps...in a different way this time?
It suddenly dawned on me that I’d not yet taken my newly collected weapon to the shooting range. I couldn’t see how that was going to help, but with nothing else to do, I made my way there. I didn’t know what to ask the guy standing out the front for, so I wandered in, drew my gun, loaded it, raised it, and fired at a target. A message appeared telling me that I really should have ear protectors on. I lowered my gun, walked out to the man, asked for ear protectors, put them on, re-entered the range, raised my gun, and fired again. Success...well sort of! My gun needed adjustment to shoot accurately, so I spent the next ten minutes or so firing at targets, bringing them closer by pressing the view button, seeing where the bullet had hit compared to where I aimed, then replacing the target paper, then pushing the back button to move it back into position, then going out and getting more ammo from the guy, then re-entering the range, then loading my gun, then raising it, then firing it, then pressing the view button, then seeing where the bullets hit, then....oh you get the picture! Eventually I had a fully functional, accurate firearm and received a few points for the effort, but it wasn’t as much fun as it might have been!
I took out quite a bit of frustration on this poor target.
Unfortunately, having a gun that shot accurately wasn’t one of my orders. I really didn’t know what to do next, but decided the most obvious solution was to try to give the mug shot to Captain Hall again, in about 182 different ways. I failed, and could find no radio or “calls” to answer either. I tried getting in the car again out of pure desperation, only to be told off even more aggressively and suspended with a game over message. There were two choices left to me at this point. I could go to the readers, having to admit that Police Quest 2 had defeated me during the very first session, or I could start over and see if I’d just simply missed some vital piece of information along the way. I decided on the latter, but only because I really hadn’t made it very far. I figured it would take under half an hour to get back to where I was, and hopefully I’d find the clue I needed on the way.
Except for the one I'm waving in front of your stupid face you moron!
I won’t bore you with my second play through, but should tell you I had one more interesting discovery during it. While scouring the Homicide Department, I came across some papers on Captain Hall’s desk that had the passwords to the computer. I was then able to gain access to the Criminal and Personnel sections using the passwords. Unfortunately, I found nothing that would help my cause, but I did find out who The Gremlin was in the first Police Quest (the practical joker that was causing so much trouble for Sergeant Dooley)! It was Laura Watts! Only later would I read Ilmari’s challenge to discover The Gremlin and know that I’d already succeeded. I wish I’d had that exciting news at the time, because I was starting to get a bit disgruntled. I’d not found anything new and had played through the whole thing so far twice! I tried driving the car again, if only to see what the Captain said afterwards, hoping to get something...anything...that I could use. Nothing.
Aha! The Trickster 1 Ilmari 0
I tried driving again, knowing that I would then receive a different, and more aggressive message from the Captain, with the same plan of studying his response. I sat there in the car and waiting for the radio to buzz with the message to return to the station. I sat there some longer. The message never came! I quickly saved in case the message was just delayed and I was somehow going to just get away with it this time if I left the station quickly. Seriously folks, I was now able to drive the car with Keith and go to the jail, but I have absolutely no idea why! If anyone can tell me why, I'll happily dish out points. Police Quest 2 has been a brutal experience for me so far, and for all the wrong reasons too! It took me a total of two and a half hours to get out of the station, and I reckon about an hour and a half of that was spent fighting bugs, parser issues and line of sight stupidity. I will say that I’ve successfully beaten a fair bit more of the game since the above, and things have got a lot better, but I’ll save that for another post. This one has been torturous enough for all of us!
It's about f#$%ing time!
Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently 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!