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The Pandora Directive (DOS)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (171813)
Written on  :  Oct 02, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Choose your destiny, Tex

The Good

Imagine a non-linear Under a Killing Moon with more gameplay and a better story, and you'll get "Pandora Directive". Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? The creators of "Pandora Directive" "heard the steps of a giant behind them" (as Brahms put it, referring to Beethoven), they had to create a game that would match in quality the giant that was called "Under a Killing Moon". They created a game that even surpassed "Under a Killing Moon" in terms of story depth and gameplay development.

The first thing that comes to mind when talking about "Pandora Directive" is its famous multi-ending feature. While being quite popular among hentai "digital novels", this feature didn't quite find its way into the realm of "mainstream" adventures. Of course, sometimes an adventure can have more than just one ending, but the crucial decision comes always near the end - the outcome of the game depends on a choice of only two decisions (of which one is usually right, and the other wrong). In "Pandora Directive", there are not two, but three choices, and, what's much more important, those choices are given to you throughout the whole game, and not only in the end of it.

Already in "Under a Killing Moon" there was a typical "triple-answer" feature: when talking to people, Tex could normally choose one of three possible conversation styles. But in "Under a Killing Moon", those choices were there only for fun; they didn't bear any importance for the game's plot (except those cases when there were obviously right and obviously wrong choices, that would cause Tex to die). "Pandora Directive" uses the same feature, but makes out of it an integral part of gameplay and story. During the game, you will have to make crucial decisions almost every time you enter a conversation with your beloved Chelsee. You can be rude to her, you can be neutrally polite, or you can be tender. Depending on how you talk to her and what answers you choose, you'll influence the ending of the game. A total of seven endings can be divided into three groups, according to the three behavior types. For example, if you only chose "tender" answers, you'll get the best ending, but if you mixed them with neutral ones, the second ending will take place, etc. The endings range from a typical happy end to a really tragic outcome.

Needless to say it was a fantastic feature. "Pandora Directive" brought to the adventure genre something very new: flexibility, non-linearity, replay value. In the middle of the game, you can choose to sleep with a certain woman, or refuse to her. The decision will, of course, influence the ending. Almost a RPG feature, more finely and convincingly presented than in most RPGs.

But of course, the true greatness of "Pandora Directive" is not just in this "triple path" feature (hentai games and some so-called "interactive movies" do it more consequently), but the fact it still remains a real adventure with a good story and rich, versatile gameplay. Puzzles are more hardcore than in "Under a Killing Moon", there are more locations, more atmosphere, and the story is decidedly better (although not quite as good as in Overseer. In addition to that, "Pandora Directive" maintains all the ingredients that made "Under a Killing Moon" so great: outstanding 3D engine, original setting, humor, fresh dialogues, great interactivity, etc.

The Bad

The only thing that comes to mind is the absence of any noticeable graphical improvement since "Under a Killing Moon". The 3D engine and the interface also haven't changed at all. The game still looks very good, but in 1996 it didn't quite stun the player the way "Under a Killing Moon" did in 1994.

The Bottom Line

"Pandora Directive" is the most perfect game of the entire Tex Murphy series, with a better story than "Under a Killing Moon" and a more balanced gameplay than "Overseer". But what makes it absolutely outstanding is the ability to actually influence the course of its events - a remarkable achievement for the adventure genre. After "Under a Killing Moon" had proved adventures could be interactive, technically innovative, and realistic, "Pandora Directive" proved they could also be flexible and open-ended. Hats off, gentlemen - Access did it again.