Jake Ryan is about to have the worst day of his life on the force. That’s a pretty mean feat considering it’s only his second day on the force, but that’s how things roll on the mean streets of Jackson Beach. You saw what went down in the Tower District with our pals Frank and Tyrone, and the search for young Skip Dixon’s missing baseball card. White guys named Tyrone—what is this world coming to?
We’ll get to all of that, but first, I have a confession to make:
|“I like Blue Force.”|
Yes, yes, stunning and brave, I know. Somebody give me the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award (no, seriously, give it to me). I can’t help it though. I’m actively enjoying this game. All you people who told me it was awful, can I trust you anymore? This game ain’t bad! This session was fun! The characters are likeable! I felt like a detective! What more could you ask for?
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, obviously.
Oh, but what’s that? When we left off last time, Jake wasn’t a detective, was he? So what happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. It all started like any other day, pulling into the station . . .
That’s disappointing, but I’m pretty sure it’s entirely plot-driven and not a result of player-error like it would’ve been in an actual Police Quest game. Do you remember how during their romantical nighttime walk on the beach Laura Dixon told Jake that Bradford Green didn’t even own the boat Future Wave and that it really belonged to some “big-shot judge or lawyer or something”? Lawyers, am I right? Anyway, keep that in mind.
The morning briefing is a lackluster affair, with there inexplicably being nothing of note going on in Jackson Beach that Sgt. Sutter has to tell his men about.
Like, you sure about that bro? No arms dealers, thefts of weapons from $%&@ing military facilities, or things of that nature? Just a big ol’ “Yeah, whatever, what can ya do?” from the Sarge. Hilarious. He is more concerned about that morning’s inspection and admonishes his crew to look sharp and—hey, isn’t that the same donut on the table as yesterday morning’s briefing? Are the janitors on strike or something? Come on, team: No Dirty Harry’s!
And I finally get what No Dirty Harry’s! means.
|All right, all right, I’ll show myself to the door.|
You know, the Sargeant is pretty blasé about all of this. I wonder if he’s doing all right.
Doug tries to help Jake out but shut up, Doug.
|Seriously, shut up.|
Seriously, what’s wrong with everyone else on the Jackson Beach PD? “Help, help, Officer! This big, bad man wants to hurt me! Save me!”
The inspection goes well, with Sutter telling Jake he’s “looking really good here” and that his “thing” [gun] is “cleaner’n my mamma’s wash.”
The Sargeant concludes by telling Jake his dad would be proud, which is a nice way to end the inspection, which was getting way too steamy for my delicate sensibilities. Male bonding . . . it’s great!
So I figure I’ll go fishing. Screw work: off to the Marina!
Unfortunately, Jake isn’t the only one who had that idea:yes, I looked it up; why are you looking at me like that?) and this game was released in 1993 and takes place in 1995, so, you know, gotcha, Jim!
|I can relate, man. I can relate.|
Hmm. You’re a cop, Doug. You could, I don’t know, use force? Blue force, maybe? Do I have to do all of the thinking around here?
Yes, I do. I have Jake radio in that he’s on the scene, and ask to run a check on the plates, but it doesn’t turn up any warrants or anything like that. None of my inventory items work to get drunkard out of his car, talking to Doug is as useful as talking to the wall, and I was about to drive away and see if the answer lay elsewhere when I remembered back to the first three Police Quest games. What did those titles have in common besides being designed by the smartest, bravest, and most-handsome former California Highway Patrolman of all time?
That’s right: they all had important items inside the trunk of the player character’s patrol cars. Now, here Jake’s vehicle is a motorcycle as opposed to the cruiser Sonny Bonds drove in those games, but Officer Doug has a patrol car which, presumably, has a trunk.
I click “Action” on the trunk, and Jake asks Doug if there’s anything useful in it.
|“Gee, Jake, I dunno if my own trunk has anything useful in it.” This goofball . . .|
|I like the way this game uses insets to show close-ups of different areas, by the way.|
Jake comments “Messy, but it worked,” in contrast to Doug, who is neat but does not work. With the drunk driver out of the car and hopefully en route to public execution, Jake returns the spring-loaded punch to Doug which might not be a good idea considering Doug seems like the kinda guy who eats paste, tells Doug he can handle things from here, and jets off to resume his patrol.
. . . any one of them. And when Jake suggests taking a trip to the islands—maybe using those free boat coupons from Mr. Carter?—Lyle shoots him down by saying there are too many islands.
Okay, sure, makes sense. Lyle muses they could head out if they get a solid lead. Jake says he’ll keep an eye out and then heads back out on patrol. But when stopped at an intersection . . .
Maybe Jake gets back in uniform at some point; I doubt it, but we’ll see.
Nah. Of course not. That’d be silly! Or maybe, not yet. I dunno. This seems like the kind of thing I’d run to the station to check out right away were I investigating my parents’ murder, but maybe I’m the weird one here.
Lyle returns, and Jake shows him the file. Lyle makes the same connection Jake and I did.
Lyle didn’t have any evidence linking Cobb to the murders and didn’t think his rap sheet had enough to go on. So Jake is sort of back to square one . . . except at least he has some leads to go on. Before leaving Lyle’s office, I checked out his phone on the back desk under the map.
I spent the rest of this session doing some investigative work, which I’ll relate in bullet form to avoid the somnambulance of a blow-by-blow, as I ping-ponged between many locations, and save files, to save time (I don’t think anyone will wan to read about my thrilling reloads). I rather enjoyed this section of the game, and while I fully expect Blue Force to go off the rails eventually, for now it’s a fun experience.
- Carter’s Marina: Mr. Carter is pleased to see Jake. He has nothing to report on Bradford Green, but doesn’t want to help a rookie cop out by checking out some mug shots, presumably so Jake can figure out if there’s a Green/Cobb connection, which is never made clear, down at the station. Seems that Mr. Carter doesn’t like “messing in other people’s business.” Not even for justice. I do show Mr. Carter Jake’s father’s nickel, but all Mr. Carter says is that it’s a “pretty nice specimen” that’s worth about fifty bucks. I come back later, having the idea to rent a boat and check out the channel islands myself, but Mr. Carter informs Jake that all of his boats are out and to come back tomorrow.
- Jail/City Hall: Jake commiserates with Not-Jim Walls about getting nowhere with Hayley McCoy over at the information booth—as if she couldn’t hear Jake from that distance of about six inches! Anyway, Jim tells Jake to “keep trying” because “[s]omething’s bound to give.” And this time, Jake is able to get Ms. McCoy to at least think about dinner with him . . . and to let him call her Hayley. Otherwise, nothing doing here.
|No, Jake! What about Laura Dixon!|
- Tony’s Bar: There’s literally nothing doing here. I can’t ask anybody about Cobb, can’t play shuffleboard, and can’t get a drink, but I can play “Okie from Muskogee” by Merle Haggard on the jukebox (it doesn’t actually play). Fun fact: The Melvins do an excellent version of this song with Hank Williams III on their 2000 album of collaborative covers called The Crybaby.
- Jake’s House: Yeah, why not. Out of ideas, I head back to Jake’s thinking that maybe he needs to sleep to advance the game. Instead, his grandma tells him she accidentally left the computer on while cleaning the den, and asks him to shut it. Why does cleaning the den involve turning the computer on anyway? Oh, I know why—it’s a cheap ploy to get the player to poke around on the computer. And it works!
This time I’m tuned in to the file called “Cobb,” and unlike last session, this time I hit upon the idea of using “Jackie,” Jake’s mother’s name, as the password . . . and it works! See, the clue is the file called “Letter,” which is John Ryan’s letter to his wife Jackie, above the “Cobb” file. Not a bad bit of puzzle design. The “Cobb” file contains financial ledger pages and a blueprint for a warehouse. I use the “Print” icon to print out a copy of these and head back to Lyle’s.
- Lyle’s Office: Jake excitedly brings up his find to Lyle. Lyle thinks this might be the break they need, and mentions that Cobb had dropped something after fleeing Tony’s bar years back. Jake mentions there’s stuff about Cobb and someone with the initials “SC” (three guesses what that stands for). Lyle suggests Jake check with the PD, so I use the phone/fax to call Barry, who sends over a rap sheet, which suggests that Cobb is a friend of Forest Follet. Jake also tells Lyle that Barry said they can get a mugshot, but I’m so excited to start interrogating people at Tony’s I fail to do so. So into Lyle’s car go Jake and Lyle, off to do a little private dicking.
- Tony’s Bar, redux: Well, Tony the bartender doesn’t want to talk to me, even after I show him Richard Cobb’s rap sheet. Neither does the lady at the end of the bar who wasn’t there before. They don’t respond to Follet’s rap sheet either.
After a quick jaunt to the Marina with Lyle which turns up nothing, head to the PD, show Barry Cobb’s rap sheet and get a mug shot, and then head back to Tony’s. Now Tony will talk when I show him the mug shot. He recognizes Cobb . . . but only as “Snow Man.” Sounds ominous! What’s worse, when Cobb comes in, he orders sauerkraut with pickled eggs. Good God, man, what kind of establishment are you running? I should arrest you for that! Anyway, Tony suggests we talk to Katie Prittchard over at the end of the bar, who used to be Cobb’s girlfriend.
She doesn’t talk to Jake until he shows her his badge, and then she’s more cooperative. All she knows is that Richard, or “Dick” as she calls him, is too well-connected, so the chances of making any bust stick are low.
She also informs Jake and Lyle that Cobb hangs out with a squirrely guy called “The Weasel” who works at the bowling alley. Katie conveniently writes down “The Weasel” on a napkin in case Jake can’t remember this exotic, complicated name.
Well, it’s more so because this is how the game operates: You can’t use the “Talk” icon to ask about certain things a la a Quest for Glory-esque conversation tree, nor will Jake automatically interrogate people based upon certain things the game has flagged he knows already. You just have to click inventory objects on people.
- Alley Cat: This time, the manager is in and hey! He looks like someone I went to high school with!
Jake shows Eugene the napkin and asks if the name “The Weasel” means anything to him.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” says Eugene. “That’s Follet. He works here.” And then Eugene just . . . brings out Forest Follet, who also looks like someone I went to high school with!
Follet doesn’t want to talk about the Strathmore Armory robbery, but when he refuses to give Jake another name, Jake orders Lyle to take him downtown. Follet talks then, saying that he knows a guy named Nico the Snake who’s been letting Follet stay in his trailer down by the Bikini Hut. The best part is, Lyle takes Follet in anyway, stuffing him in the car. Before leaving, I click “Talk” on Eugene, and Jake asks if Follet had any belongings. Eugene goes in the back to check and comes back with a key. He gives it to Jake without asking for a warrant or anything. Nice! Proper police procedure!
- City Hall/Jail: But I stop back at City Hall en route to the Bikini Hut because an idea struck me: Jim Walls’s handsome doppelganger works at the Hall of Records, right? Maybe he has info about the blueprints Jake printed from his father’s computer?
7Jimbo has nothing on the ledger papers, but that Stuart Cox had the blueprints run through the county permit system some ten years back. Yes, the Stuart Cox, the D.A. who let Green, Walker, and Sandoval go, and who apparently has a connection with noted scumbag Richard Cobb. And what’s the connection between all of these people, the warehouse plans, the robbery at the armory, and the death of Jake’s parents? The plot thickens.
- Bikini Hut: Follet’s key opens up the trailer. Sadly, no bikini girls are in here either.
I poke around and find a pair of boots with orthopedic lifts built into the heel.
These trigger another flashback:
Is this Nico the Snake character the killer of John and Jackie Ryan? Anyway, the boot heel is actually a secret compartment and contains a note. It is initialed “S.C.” and contains “a list of dates for arms shipments from a Marble Head Island warehouse.”
But this isn’t the most exciting thing Jake finds in the trailer:
|These go to Jake’s, ahem, personal evidence lockup.|
5Outside, Lyle has returned from apparently taking Follet to jail. Jake tells Lyle that the schedule mentions the same 9mm ammo that had been stolen from the armory and used in his parents’ murder, and mentions the Future Wave by name. This is the break they need! It would’ve been cool if the player already knew this from the game mentioning it when Jake first finds the note, but you know what they say about minor quibbles . . .
. . . actually, I don’t.
- Lyle’s Office: The day ends here with Lyle telling Jake he’ll try tomorrow to get ATF involved, and that Jake should check out Marble Head Island (alone? Isn’t that insane? No Dirty Harry’s!). Lyle even calls Jake “partner” and tells him to check in after he investigates Marble Head Island. The day then ends, and we pick up day three outside of Jake’s house in the morning.
So that’s where I’ll leave off for now: enjoying the chase and having fun with Blue Force despite its flaws while still anticipating something that’ll make me utterly hate this game. Par for the course!
Session Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Inventory: Gun w/ 2 clips, handcuffs, ticket book, Miranda card, briefing, telescoping boat hook, ID, piece of shipping crate, Indian head nickel, boat rental coupons, business card, mug shot, Cobb’s rap sheet, ledger/blueprints, “The Weasel” napkin, key to trailer, schedule
Arrests: 4 (drunk guy doesn’t count because Doug took him in and booked him, but Follet sure does)