Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39520)
Written on  :  Jul 12, 2007
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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Three paths + seven endings = one amazing game

The Good

In his last adventure, PI Tex Murphy (played by Chris Jones) stopped a cult's plans to release a deadly virus into Earth's atmosphere that would have wiped out mutants. After claiming victory, he decides to focus on dance lessons. One year later, on the night where Tex is a complete jerk to his girlfriend-to-be, Chelsee Bando (Suzanne Barnes), he is hired by Gordon Fitzpatrick (Kevin McCarthy) to find a missing friend by the name of Thomas Malloy, but Fitzpatrick isn't the only person looking for Malloy. Finding him puts Tex in grave danger, and as the game progresses, he will uncover the truth about the greatest government conspiracy.

The Pandora Directive is the sequel to Under a Killing Moon. Both games use the same engine, but Pandora seems to be a much longer game, consisting of six CD-ROMS instead of four. All of the usual characters from UAKM are in this game, including Chelsee, Rook Garner (Doug Vandegrift), and Louie LaMintz (Randall Edwards). The same Chandler Avenue is there, but new buildings have already been established. You can even walk all the way through the Ritz. You are living in a virtual world.

That virtual world allows you to do the same things like you did in UAKM like looking under things, on top of things, crawl around, and other actions a true PI does. But Pandora allows you to do more. For instance, you can call people on VidPhones; look up information on a laptop, allowing you to get new leads; and decipher the Mayan calendar. To me, the VidPhones look good and they may be what we'll be using in the near future.

What sets Pandora apart is the fact that you can play the game and stay on three different paths. Doing so allows you to watch different cut-scenes and take conversations at a different level. The path that you follow through the game depends on the way that you handle conversations with someone, but the three conversation responses should allow you to determine how positive, negative, or just neutral you want Tex to be. It would be hard for people to stay on the positive/negative path that they probably be playing the game on the neutral path. Also, your actions can lead to one of seven endings, some of them are good while some of them are bad. I used a strategy guide to make sure that I played the game several times on separate paths and made sure that I watched all seven endings. Because of the different paths and endings, the game can be played over and over again, in the hope that you would be able to view different footage.

There are two game modes that you can play the game in. In the “Entertainment” level, you can solve puzzles instantly, which is useful if you don't feel like solving puzzles that can take you at least ten minutes to solve while going nowhere. Not so in the ”Game Player” level, where you cannot cheat your way out of the puzzles. As a bonus, you are treated to more points, hidden locations, and possibly hidden cut-scenes. You have to solve puzzles almost every day, and some of them can be quite hard, as you are expected to put a photo or message together. Even though I found some quite easy to solve, I still had to use a guide to help me with the later puzzles.

Upon completing Pandora, I enjoyed listening to Tex's Lament while I watched the end credits go by. This song can also be heard several times if you happen to be traveling down the negative path.

The Bad

Access has done a good job at not turning people into mannequins when they are listening to someone, but not so with the VidPhone conversations. When they finish being a mannequin, they often tend to be choppy. Choppy as meaning going from one position to the other quickly without some essential body movements.

In UAKM, users had the ability to assign and use multiple CD-ROM drives through the game's installation program, so that they wouldn't have to change discs every day in the game. I did not see such an option that allows you to do this.

The Bottom Line

The Pandora Directive features the same virtual world as Under a Killing Moon. You can do all the things in both games, but Pandora has you doing a little bit more. It is a much longer game, more than the double amount of days that UAKM has, and some of the days are quite long.

The game is replayable due to the different paths and endings, but which path you are heading down on depends on how you handle conversations with most of the major characters. If you already completed Pandora using the neutral path, for example, you might want to play it again, this time trying to be on either the positive or negative path.

There are two modes in which to play the game in, making it appeal to either die-hard adventure fan who absolutely loves puzzles, or those that can't cope with challenges.

As mentioned in my UAKM review, Aaron Conners decided to produce a novel based on Pandora, but it isn't much good compared to the UAKM novel. It doesn't take a different twist and mostly all of the dialogue can also be found in the game. But it is a good read and you can get it, along with the UAKM novel, at Amazon.