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

The Pandora Directive (DOS)

85
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  TheMetz (3)
Written on  :  Jan 05, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars
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Summary

One of the strongest story lines ever featured in an adventure game!

The Good

Pandora Directive (PD) picks up where Under a Killing Moon left off, and then adds to it with spades. It's bigger, the plot is even more tangled and intriguing, and the standard of acting has gone up a notch. You take on the role of Tex Murphy, a hard-boiled P.I. of the Raymond Chandler school, sort of film noir, but ported into the next century where it's always nighttime in a bleak, post-apocalyptic San Franscisco.

Depending on how you handle your conversations with the many characters you encounter, and also how you manage your romantic interests, the game branches off onto 3 separate paths with a total of 8 different endings (don't believe everything you read on the box, which alluded to 7 endings. And only 6 of the 8 possible endings are unique). PD has a great 3D exploration interface that not many people realise can be run full-screen! You can look in drawers, underneath beds, even stand on tip-toe to look on top of things. This game has often been tagged with the derogatory misnomer 'interactive movie', but rest assured it's a solid detective-style adventure game though FMV is used during interrogation, and of course, to advance the story.

PD also features 2 levels/modes of difficulty: Entertainment and Gamer. In Entertainment mode (1500 points max.), you don't lose points for not completing the timed puzzles within the time limit, and hints are available. In Gamer mode (4000 points max.), you lose points for not completing a puzzle quickly enough, and you can't get hints. But hey, what else are save and restore for?

With deadpan P.I. humour, tricky interrogations, clever puzzles, and a deeply engrossing story line, PD has so much going for it that it's a shame to pass up.

The Bad

There's very little I didn't like. Probably the only thing is that there's an abrupt transition between the exploratory and examine modes (when you want to look at/take something, you have to exit full-screen into a windowed command interface). Some people will inevitably not like the timed puzzles, and there are also a few puzzles masquerading as arcade sequences. These were not too difficult once you figured out the trick to solving them.

The Bottom Line

What starts out as a seemingly innocent missing persons case turns into a sprawling, mind-blowing adventure involving conspiracy theories, government cover-ups, and well... just about everything you can think of that makes up a great detective yarn. Once you've played Pandora Directive, guaranteed it will be high on your all-time favourites list!