Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel
First posted on 15 May 1998. Last updated on 29 July 2012.
|Sonny is a police officer in Lytton.|
|Be careful when driving the police car!|
|Sonny pursuits The Angel of Death.|
|The original and VGA versions are published 5 years apart.|
|The original and VGA versions are published 5 years apart.|
The remake of Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel is welcomed by this adventure gamer ever since I have tinkered with the original release. The original version is a demanding game, with a typed command interface that uses keyboard arrows to make the game characters move on screen. I cannot count the times I have mistakenly reached for my mouse only to remember that it is of no use then. When the enhanced VGA edition of the game lights up my screen that uses a multifunctional cursor I smile to myself and think, "now I can relax and get involved in this game." Most of you simply do not realize how technology has advanced in adventure gaming until you have experienced playing one of the oldies.
You assume the role of Sonny Bonds, a patrol officer protecting the citizens of Lytton, California. You begin your day by hustling to the shift briefing. Sergeant Dooley updates you that the local teenagers are getting out of hand recently. They are using cocaine as well as drinking and driving. "We need to find the scumbag that's supplying them," he says. You are also told to keep your eyes peeled for a stolen 1983 Mercedes Benz. You begin patrolling the town's many streets. The radio dispatcher sends you to the scene of a car accident. The driver has been shot in the head. A license check reveals he was a drug dealer named Lonny West. Soon, his murder is traced back to a suspect named Jason Taselli, alias Marvin Hoffman. When you spot the stolen Mercedes Benz and pull it over for the arrest, a car search unexpectedly reveals a barrel of evidence that points to the murder.
After your transfer to the narcotics division, the sad news that a fellow officer's teenage daughter dies from an drug overdose makes you more determined than ever to throw the cuffs on the drug lord yourself. The plot thickens as the name, Jessie Bains, better known as The Angel of Death, is divulged. He is the drug lord that is supplying the kids with drugs. When the body of another drug pusher is found, a drug trafficking crisis is at hand. Fortunately, a break in your pursuit for Bains occurs when Marie, a local hooker who knows Bains, is arrested. A deal is worked out and all her charges are dropped. She sets you up for a card game at the Hotel Delphoria where among the players is the man of the hour, The Angel of Death. The deal is coming down and backup is on their way. Follow the correct procedures and The Angel of Death is history!
Jim Walls, a retired police officer, is the creator of the Police Quest series. The games are based on his own real life police experience. Walls has been praised by the real world law enforcement community for the accuracy and realism he has injected into the series. In fact, with much skepticism an actual Chief of Police is rumored to have played Police Quest and to his amazement realizes what he has thought initially to be a fun little computer game actually proves to be an excellent simulation training tool for his rookie officers.
The original version is released in 1987 and an enhanced VGA version is released in 1992. The remake replaces the original cartoon like characters with video captured human actors and adds full color VGA graphics. The original version uses a proprietary game engine called AGI (Adventure Game Interpreter). The interpreter provides the game interface and handles all subroutines used to display graphics and sounds. The game itself is then programmed using scripts written specifically for the interpreter. As such, the scripts themselves are platform independent, and can be played in any platform given the right interpreter. AGI is the first interpreter made by the developer. It supports only low resolution (160x200) EGA graphics and text input. It is, however, the first game engine that supports a pseudo 3D graphic environment whereby characters or objects can be moved onscreen in front of, behind, or over other objects on screen. It also uses vector graphics rather than bitmaps in order to speed up screen redraws while minimizing the size of the graphic data files. The remake uses an upgraded interpreter called SCI (Sierra Creative Interpreter) which adds high resolution VGA graphics with digitized music and a point and click interface. The game's theme music is context sensitive, from the jukebox music playing in the bar to the background blues melody playing in the stripper joint. The producer of the series, Tammy Dargan, has said, "It was out intention to create a real life simulation, to explore the feelings that are part of the police experience."
The original release can be described as a digital antique. The lack of speaking characters is hard to adjust to by gamers. Text subtitles appear instead next to the speaking person, so be prepared to do a lot of reading. You must read all the text carefully the first time since you cannot go back unless you replay it through a saved game. Prepare to be familiar with DOS commands as DOS is where you shall be playing this oldie. The original game has caused my system to hang up, even in DOS. The remake, however, purrs on in real DOS mode without a boot disk on my system. Do not forget to install the patches that come with the game!
Dig deep in your game box and find the map of the streets of Lytton. Even with the map, driving the patrol car around the 100+ streets can be frustrating until you get the hang of it. Be prepared to get killed quite often until you learn all the correct police procedures. Taking time to think before you take action definitely is to your advantage. Save your games frequently. There is a limit of 10 slots, so you probably have to delete some older saved games as you progress further in the game. Keep your own police notebook since there is nothing to refer back to in this game. You also need to refer to the game manual for police codes. The tough language of the cops may raise certain people's eyebrows, but there are plenty of comical quips to enlighten the seriousness of police work. Placing the hand icon in the wrong places surely gives you some laughs!
On a positive side, you can really get involved with learning correct police procedures and feel the highs and lows an officer goes through while playing this game. You can feel your heart racing in certain situations as your mind struggles to remember the correct procedures. There are also quite a few well placed laughs in this game. On a negative side, while the character movement on screen is quite swift, control of the patrol car through the streets of Lytton is very sluggish. In fact, I dread each time when I have to use the car. You often cannot find your specific building. Parking can be a chore. There is also too much mouse clicking just to get an item from the inventory. Hints are given immediately whenever I forget a police procedure. All these constant reminders may have ruined the atmosphere of the game. The problem of not having anything to refer back such as a logbook, when evidence starts to accumulate rapidly, is a definite disadvantage.
It is enjoyable to play an old classic such as this game that is partly reality based. The VGA remake boasts better graphics and enhances the player's immersion into the daily danger of police work. Overall, Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel is a good police story and a well paced adventure game that keeps the player's mind working and challenged.