And so we begin the Police Quest remake. I have to say, right off the bat, it gets points for presentation. I like that the title screen mirrors that of Police Quest III, released one year earlier.
In fact, this remake uses a lot of the same assets from Police Quest III, as though they were intending make sure that the overhaul of the series maintained a certain level of continuity throughout.
|Lytton P.D. in Police Quest I…|
|…and Lytton P.D. in Police Quest III.|
|Sonny’s street clothes in Police Quest I…|
|…and in Police Quest III|
|And lastly, Sonny’s character portrait in Police Quest I…|
|…and in Police Quest III.|
I’m getting ahead of myself here, but these are cool little touches that make me wish that the second game had also been similarly remade to bring it in line with these two.
Back to the intro: over some wailing guitars—well-composed, though the audio quality is a bit grating—we get the game’s credits, as well as some ominous imagery bespeaking the violence facing the city of Lytton.
|This is actually animated.|
|So is this. It turns into a SKULL!|
It definitely gives the game that “cop show” vibe I’m sure they were going for, and that I enjoyed so much about the third game . . . at least in the beginning.
But among the credits . . .
“Hey, you say something?”
Gah! Oh whew, it’s just you, Ji—Officer Walls.
“Ah, come on. Jim’s fine. So anyway, what’s up?”
Nothing. I’m just curious as to why you’re not in the game’s credits.
“Are you serious? You must’ve gotten a defective copy or something. One of those pirated discs I think.”
I don’t think so . . . that’d be a strange change to make, don’t you think?
“Oh, you think? Just remember, punk, I made a lot of enemies in my 15 years on the California highway patrol, many of which I put into my games! I mean, it could’ve been Jimmy “Slick” Velazquez, a numbers-runner I used to know down in Chico who . . . wait, I remember now. It’s probably one of Ken Williams’ little gags. Let me tell you, that guy was such a joker! He was always jealous that my mustache was so much better than little strip of fuzz he wore on his lip. He stuck me in at the end of the game, and himself as the very first name. That guy . . . such a crackup.”
Hey, if you say so, Jim. You’re the boss.
“Damn right I am!”
The game begins with a view of Lytton’s skyline and a few text bubbles written in the style of travel guides and newspaper articles, describing Lytton’s growth in prosperity and troubles from the 1960s up through the then-current early 90s. It’s brief, economical, and tells the player all they need to know without bogging down the game’s intro. An excellent framing story that does its job without overstaying its welcome.
We begin, as does every game in the series, with Sonny Bonds coming to the station one morning. I’m going to try to keep this playthrough from being like a walkthrough, or incessantly chronicling the differences between the original Police Quest and this remake, but some noticeable differences that actually have to do with a simple, initial puzzle are that 1) Sonny starts in his street clothes and 2) the layout of the station is different.
The first door in the screenshot above leads to the evidence lockup. There’s nothing to do there right now, since Sonny’s inventory is completely empty, which is kind of weird for a nitpicky reason I’ll get to later. Cool factoid: The officer running the lockup is named Russ Dinkle, the same Russ Dinkle who, according to the in-box copy of the Gazette, won a 13” color TV in the recent raffle. I love little touches like this.
There is nothing of value on the table, but the hanging file holder on the wall contains transfer request forms. Sonny can’t do anything now, since he’s technically off-duty, but come on! This is a Police Quest game! Paperwork is always on the table!
But this is sort of a puzzle, isn’t it? It’s a pretty good way of tipping the player off to an action they can perform without being too obscure or cryptic.
But wait! There’s more! And it doesn’t devolve into hand-holding! Down the elevator is the narcotics department, home of Lieutenant Morgan. The game goes out of its way to make you realize he’s prissy, overpaid, and a suck-up to the Commissioner, but when you talk to him he offers this little gem of a hint:
I like it. It’s reinforcement for the player to realize that those transfer request forms aren’t just for decoration. I know what I’ll be doing later . . . once Sonny is officially on the clock!
I similarly like the tie-in to the in-box copy of the Gazette, which has an article detailing Sonny’s excellence on the force. Good writing so far!
Also, some of the descriptions in Lt. Morgan’s office are pretty funny.
|“Cloun” = “Clown.” Ha ha.|
|Steelton, an actual location you get to visit in Police Quest II.|
Back on the main floor, I come to a lobby with three doors, a table holding radio receivers, and a board replete with patrol car keys. I take a radio and a set of keys and try to go into the first door I see.
Well, it looks like getting uniformed and on-duty is the first of Sonny’s puzzles. Again, it guides the player without being too much of a tutorial.
The door on the lower-left leads to Sgt. Dooley’s office. There’s nothing to do there besides get yelled at for not being changed and in the briefing room. Dooley and his office are messes, the opposite of Lt. Morgan. I’m not sure if there’ll be anything to do in there later, but for now, there are no puzzles, so it’s off to the last accessible door in the station: the locker room!
Sonny’s locker is in the middle of the middle bank of lockers, and it presents us with the game’s first copy protection puzzle. It seems that, as in Police Quest III, super-cop Sonny here forgot his combo, but then remembers that it’s the final football score of last night’s game, conveniently chronicled in the in-box copy of the Gazette! It’s 26-9, and yes, you have to enter it every time you go to open the locker.
Inside is Sonny’s uniform, nightstick, gun, ticket book, pen, a towel, and . . . uh . . . the keys to his personal car.
. . .
How did he get to work if he had neither the keys to a patrol car nor his personal car?!
“He walked! What, are you some kind of wimp afraid of walking?”
But the game showed a squad car driving into the station at the beginning!
“It did not.”
It did too! Here’s photographic evidence depicting the scenario I just described!
As you can clearly see from Exhibit A here, a squad car is very obviously approaching the entrance to the Lytton Police Department’s underground parking garage.
And in Exhibit B, we unequivocally see said squad car making a right turn into the station’s egress and, indeed, enter said underground parking lot. Therefore, it is safe to assume that—
“Cram it, Law Boy. He walked. Who’s to say that’s Sonny’s car?”
But why would the game show it otherwise! It’s Sonny’s car. Q.E.D.
“Oh yeah? Prove it.”
You know what? Let’s just move on . . .
Grabbing the towel, Sonny heads to the shower, washes up, changes into his uniform, takes his stuff, and we’re ready to go!
More items! The inventory in Police Quest I is normal Sierra fare, where clicking on items gives you their descriptions and . . .
|Bed . . . posts . . .?|
“What? Cops have personal lives too, you know. What’s the big deal?”
Is . . . is this what you mean by saying you designed these games based on your own personal experiences?
“. . . I can neither confirm nor deny.”
*Shudder* Now that the game’s first puzzle is over, Sonny can get to his briefing, where Sgt. Dooley runs down a list of Lytton’s problems with drugs and violence, particularly among the young, compliments Sonny for his recent outstanding work (though warns him not to get a big head), and tells all officers to keep an eye out for a certain stolen vehicle:
Sgt. Dooley looks a little . . . nerdy, doesn’t he? I approve!
I suspect that’s a mission or a puzzle! Again, the game gives a breadcrumb trail without being too obtuse or too on-the-nose. So far, so good!
After the briefing, I click around some boxes built into the wall and find out that they’re called pigeonholes, used for messages between officers and the like. Eventually, I find Sonny’s and learn that his buddy Steve wants to meet for something called an 11-98 at a place called Carol’s later in the shift. In the manual’s list of radio codes I can’t find an 11-98, but I’m going to assume it means a break or something. In any event, it’s another puzzle/quest/objective/event/whatever you want to call it. Cool!
Lastly, there’s an in-game copy of the Gazette lying on one of the tables in the briefing room featuring, among other things, mention of a shadowy figure many think is responsible for Lytton’s troubles . . . a drug kingpin known only as the Death Angel!
Rock and roll! The game’s objectives seem to be getting clearer. The morning routine out of the way, nothing left to do but hit the streets and get patrolling! But first, a little paperwork . . .
Next time, we’ll go over the driving mechanics and see what happens to Sonny on duty. I’ve got a feeling that the remainder of the day is going to be anything other than routine.
Inventory: Loaded gun, pen, radio, squad car keys, ticket book, nightstick, handcuffs, keys to Sonny’s Camaro
Score: 13 out of 225
On a scale of Don Knots to Don Johnson, how much do I feel like a cop?: Will Estes as Officer Jamie Reagan
Play time: 45 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes