Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: Open Season (DOS)

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Written by  :  *Katakis* (37904)
Written on  :  Oct 12, 2003
Platform  :  DOS

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Realism counts from now on.

The Good

This is the fourth game in the Police Quest series, and before you get so hyped-up about it, the player doesn’t take on the role of Sonny Bonds, nor will the story take place in the quiet suburb of Lytton. This game is even created not by Jim Walls, but by Daryl F. Gates, and helping him was America’s Most Wanted producer, Tammy Dargan.

Early one Monday morning, LAPD detective John Carey is summoned to a crime scene in South Central, where he is shocked to learn that the victim, his partner, Bob Hickman, is tortured, mutilated, and left for dead. Since he is on the scene, he will have to interview witnesses and record any evidence with his notebook, and mark the evidence with a piece of chalk. This is necessary if he wants to get through the crime scene.

As John doesn’t know it, Hickman’s murder is only the start. John’s investigation lasts up to four days, with a person murdered each day. As lead investigator, he is required to do what he did at that very first crime scene. However, he’s also required to report to the coroner for information regarding the murders, as well as dealing with Kristy Bilden, the nosy bitch who works for one of LA's TV stations, KKAT-TV. As explained earlier, he will also have to take notes and record evidence while out in the field, and use a 3.14 form to document every major thing that he does each day, then give the form to his partner at Parker Center, home of the LAPD.

Once in a while, he will also have to visit the victim’s families for support, and see the coroner who gives him the gruesome details on how each victim is murdered. He will have to place evidence into plastic bags, then turn it into SID. During Day 2 and 3, John will have to make two arrests; one at a residence of a person harassing a rapper because of his rising record sales, and the other at the city hall where he is required to talk about the murders. Also on these days, he will also qualify at the Los Angeles Police Academy so he can brush up on his really low scores in target practice.

The target practice is easier than what you had to go through when you played Police Quest 2. This time, you don’t have to adjust the windage and elevation of your firearm. All you have to do is point at your target and shoot, and reload your gun as necessary. The target practice consists of six phrases, and you are given a certain time to repeatedly shoot at your target before the phase is over and the next phase starts. Each phrase is harder than the last, with the targets moving back each time.

To get around, John uses a T-bird to travel between locations. When you need to travel to a location, don’t expect to have the driving interface similar to that of Police Quest 1 SCI or Police Quest 3, but a simple map of Los Angeles, where all you do is point the mouse cursor over flashing red dots to reveal the location that you want to visit, and then click them. The game then suddenly teleports you there.

If John’s investigation in the murders goes well, then he might end up finding the killer in his/her own home. If he doesn’t, he may end up looking like Hickman. Unlike Jim Walls, Gates and Dargan wanted Police Quest 4 to be realistic as possible. For instance, Gates expects players to find out what detectives actually have to go through to get their job done.

The CD-ROM version of PQ4 features full speech throughout the game, plus the original floppy version. Owners of the CD-ROM version also are in for a treat: Sierra included a clip showing the making of the game, so if anybody is interested to see how this game was put together, they can watch the movie clip.

The Bad

In order to get through each day, you have to think like a detective and ask yourself what they would go through when they want to interview people or inspect crime scenes. This information is supplied in a blue book that comes with the game. Thinking like a detective might be fine, but it becomes boring once in a while.

Since you play Detective John Carey and deal with the LAPD, players might feel disappointed at the fact that PQ4 is unrelated to the earlier PQ games. This is because Jim Walls left after doing PQ3 and Mr. Gates took over the project.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, judging by the realism involved in detective work, PQ4 might be considered a real police simulation rather than an adventure game. PQ4 is the last adventure game to use Sierra’s old SCI interface. From that point on, Mr. Gates focused on the realism of SWAT teams. ***