User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Martian Memorandum (DOS)

66
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37838)
Written on  :  Jun 19, 2007
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

So this is what Mars looks like

The Good

Six years ago, PI Tex Murphy investigated the death of scientist Carl Linsky, who was suspected of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He also foiled a corporation's plan to use a supercomputer to control the minds of the scientists which is basically the reason why Linsky committed suicide. Now Tex is back on his second case in the year 2039. Marshall Alexander, head of the TerraForm Corporation, whose purpose is to make life inhabitable on Mars, asks him to recover his daughter, Alexis, and in the process, get back an item that was stolen from him.

Martian Memorandum is an adventure game like its predecessor. You walk around a location, doing stuff and getting up to no good. You have a ComLink that allows you to call up Stacy, your new secretary, who will provide you with information, as well as addresses of characters that you are supposed to talk to, and this makes up the majority of the game. By talking to them, their face appears in a box, and I knew straight away that MM is a multimedia product. Each character's face looks so real, and when they speak, the lip-syncing is spot on. You ask about other characters, but rather than typing their name in, you are given a list of characters that you can ask about. This way, you don't have to remember full names in case remembering stuff like that is hard for you.

MM is the first Tex Murphy game to feature different conversation paths. Before you can ask characters about others, you have to carry out a conversation with them, choosing two or three responses. What the character says will depend on your responses. If you are rude, expect them to be rude back and, more often than not, tell you to get out of their site. If you are nice to them, you will be their friend. Having to choose responses not only effect the conversation, but it also makes the game replayable.

The graphics that mostly serve as the backgrounds look amazing. An example of this is where you get to see Alexander at TerraForm. You can see metropolitan San Francisco after dark, with the Golden Gate Bridge to the right and some land to the north, which is surrounded by lights. Lightning strikes one of the buildings occasionally to add to the atmosphere. More great examples of artwork are accompanied by some text which describes the location that you are about to explore. I was amazed when Tex's investigation finally leads him to Mars.

The music in the game is catchy and it sometimes reflect the environment/situation that you are in. Some of the music has beats that make you want to tap your feet to. The sound effects are similar to Mean Streets, except that the game supports sound cards that were commonplace in 1991 such as the MT-32, Adlib, and Sound Blaster. You will mostly hear Tex walking around the place, and opening and closing doors. At one location that Tex travels to, there is a cat somewhere, and the sound it makes seem out of place, like a “meow” sound backwards. Although it is unusual for a cat to sound like that, I find it funny.

The puzzles in this game are not hard, and can take 5-10 minutes to complete. One involves you finding some way to open the safe in a strict time before you are killed. Another one is navigating Tex through the ducts using some blueprints you pick up earlier as a guide. I found the puzzles quite easy if I save mid-way, restoring if I die.

The Bad

As with all adventure games, you have to travel between locations. In MM, there is no map. The locations that you can travel to are listed in a dialog box. Since this is a Tex Murphy game, you expect a detailed map to appear. I believe that you access a detailed map in future Tex games.

The Bottom Line

Martian Memorandum is the second Tex Murphy game where you have to rescue an item that was stolen from the head of TerraForm Corporation. Mostly throughout the game, you have to deal with characters who have their own personality, and who are classed as either mutants or norms. There are times when you need to search locations for clues that let you progress through the game. The game uses motion video to make the characters life like. The different conversation paths make the game replayable.

The game has a nice storyline, excellent graphics, and very good sound. The game supports sound cards that were commonplace at the time MM was made. The puzzles are easy to get through in less time. The game uses no copy protection which means two things: 1) the game is easy to pirate, and 2) you don't have to look for the manual you lost ages ago.