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?|
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
|Nothing . . . further . . . to do?|
|His “analysis pose.” True fact: That’s Corey Cole!|
“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 hell no.|
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!”|
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.
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.|
|Oh, kiss my ass.|
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.
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.|
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:
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.