The Summer of ’87 was a pivotal point for me. It represented the transformation from boy to young man. Nah, I’m just joking. Anyways, up until then, I had tinkered a lot with group based games (Wasteland, Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance) but also had my fair share of experience with adventure games, namely Leisure Suit Larry and King’s Quest.
The beauty of the Sierra adventure games is their structure. Whether you’re in space mopping a floor, or chasing drug dealers with your sirens blazing in your cruiser, Sierra created a structure that you could trust. This structure was developed with Sierra’s very own Adventure Game Interpreter parser engine.
Police Quest puts you in the shoes of Sonny Bonds, a 15 year veteran police officer in the fictitious city of Lytton, California. When you first start the game, you’re a lowly traffic cop, which is great, because it’s more or less the tutorial of the game. Now if you’re not used to Sierra games, there is somewhat of a steep learning curve, because you have to type in basically everything. For instance, if you want to open your locker you have to type in “open locker” if you want to take out your gun, you have to type “take out gun” and stuff like that. But honestly, if a 12 year old can do it, so can you.
Of course, it get a bit trickier when you have to abide to Lyton Police regulations! No, you can’t just get in your police cruiser, you have to do an inspection (walk around) before getting in. You also can’t leave without your ticket book! So yeah, when I played this game back in the day, I was constantly saving my game, and failing miserably, and having to load a my saved game and try again.
After awhile, you have to investigate what appears to be a simple car crash but turns out to be a homicide! (cue the bad ass Police Quest music!) Check it out in the video below.
I used DOSbox to play the game, more info on that at the end of the article.
One great thing about the game is the illusion of free will. You’re presented a great big map and you can drive around freely, but there there is a linear progression to the story which is excellently enforced by the Police Chief. You ARE a police officer, and you have to answer the call. Brilliant!
Sonny continues to give a traffic violation citation, single-handedly faces a tough gang of drunken bikers, and makes a DUI arrest. As the game progresses, you go from patrol to temporary narcotics detective and finally undercover, tracking “The Death Angel”, a murderous drug dealer named Jessie Bains. Sonny is assisted by “Sweet Cheeks” Marie, his former high school sweetheart who is now working as a prostitute.
The game is the most realistic of those developed by Sierra in the late 1980s when compared to Leisure Suit Larry, King’s Quest, or Space Quest, and featured many puzzles where proper police procedure is required to succeed. It was released for the IBM PC, Apple II, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST and Apple IIGS. A SCI1.1 enhanced remake in 256 color VGA was released in 1992, which was also the first game released in the series not to feature dead ends.
WHAT WE SAY
- Visuals – 85
- Sound – 80
- Playability – 95
Given that this game was initially released in 1987 and was using the most CUTTING EDGE graphics and sound at the time, it gets a pretty good score in my book. The story is compelling, and it really makes you want to find the Death Angel!