Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists

Posted by Jenny Rouse.
First posted on 27 April 2011. Last updated on 15 August 2012.
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Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists
The Clappers Wreake police force is not particularly professional.
Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists
Hector is well aware he is inside an adventure game!
Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists
Hector attempts to communicate with the local youth.
Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists
Hector confronts the terrorist.
Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists
Lasers can make for a deadly puzzle.

Hector: Badge of Carnage

The season is comprised of 3 episodes:

Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists

Episode 2: Senseless Acts of Justice

Episode 3: Beyond Reasonable Doom

Hector: Badge of Carnage was originally planned as a trilogy of point-and-click adventure games for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch by Irish developer Straandlooper Animation. The first installment in the series, released in June 2010, was well received by both gamers and critics and ended with a promise of a second installment soon to follow. Yet, months later, Straandlooper Animation remained tightlipped about if or when another installment was forthcoming, and many fans began to lose hope about the series' future. However, in February 2011, Telltale Games surprised the adventure game community by announcing that not only had it partnered with Straandlooper Animation but that it would be porting the entire series to the PC.

Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists follows the titular character of Detective Inspector Hector (officially titled Hector: Fat Arse of the Law). Hector is a crude and cynical drunkard of a cop who prefers to put in the least amount of effort possible in his job rather than an honest day's work. Naturally, when his town of Clappers Wreake is held hostage by a terrorist, the duty falls to him to fulfill the terrorist's bizarre, altruistic demands and save both the hostages and the city. In the span of just a few hours, Hector must fix Clappers Wreake's dilapidated clock tower, jump start its renovation and beautification campaign, and put a stop to its thriving pornography industry. Considering its overall content and subject matter, the game (and the series in general) is intended for only mature gamers who are not easily offended.

The game attempts to push the boundaries of the adventure game genre whenever possible. There are a few moments in the game wherein Hector makes it quite clear that he is aware he exists as a fictional character within the confines of an adventure game, often pointing it out (for example, by saying, "You're in my inventory now.") to other characters. It goes without saying that the game's raunchy dialog pushes the boundaries of what has been previously established in comedic adventure games, but it is the combination of puzzles and inventory that deserve to be highlighted. A portion of the game's humor derives from how innocuous and filthy inventory items alike are used in puzzle solving. For example, a puzzle early in the game involves fishing a paperclip out of a dirty toilet with a shoelace and a used condom. The challenge of the game lies in the player's ability to see past the initial shock of the inventory items (Hector even carries around a possibly deceased heroin junkie for a while) and figure out their ultimately mundane uses during the course of the game.

Graphically, the game boasts colorful and smooth animation as well as a generally friendly cartoon style that belies the game's graphic content. The original soundtrack is fitting (though not particularly memorable) and does a good job of enhancing the game without overwhelming it. The voice acting is generally well done, with all voices performed by the same few male actors who also provide the humorous voices for the game's female characters.

Gameplay is not particularly taxing for either newcomers or veterans of the adventure game genre. There are, however, a few puzzles that may prove problematic. These puzzles have to do with successfully navigating dialog trees rather than figuring out a combination of items to use. As many of the puzzle solutions involve using unconventional items to arrive at a conventional solution (using a disease infested syringe to pick a lock, for example), this style of puzzle solving may provide a temporary setback for some players. However, once that potential hurdle is cleared, the rest of the game is easily beaten. The game is fairly short and very British (Hector is not shy about using slang), the latter of which may turn off some gamers. Additionally, Telltale Games' PC port has a few problems in execution. Often, when a cut scene ends, the game's interface overlay flickers on screen briefly before disappearing. In addition, sometimes the animation can become choppy for brief moments. I have played both the PC version and the mobile version of the game: although I can confirm that the choppy animation is present in both versions, it is presented more often in the PC port.

Despite a few content and technical issues, Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists is a throwback to the old days of adventure games, where the emphasis of the gameplay is placed on the writing rather than difficult or elaborate puzzles. The experience of playing this game lies almost solely in its witty dialog and crass one-liners that Hector offers up. Simply put, it is a satirical, raunchy, fun, and comedic romp in adventure gaming—and not to be missed.

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