Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39520)
Written on  :  Sep 25, 2003
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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This is an excellent Sierra remake well worth playing, even if you never played the original

The Good

Let me ask you a question: What do remakes of games created by Sierra in the early Nineties have in common? Well, apart from them having been redone using an updated game engine, they were created by their original developers. Having said that, you would think that former California highway patrol officer Jim Walls created a similar remake for Police Quest. But no, after finishing Police Quest III, Walls decided that he was done with Sierra, so it was up to Tammy Dargan and her crew to create the remake that was authentic as the original game.

The original Police Quest came with several pieces of documentation: a quick reference card, manual, map, and poker tips. The release saw the map and manual merged into something called The Lytton Gazette, which you will need to refer to during the game. The Gazette has some articles that are worth reading, and some of them are amusing as well. I played the original, so I knew what to expect. For those who haven't played the game yet, you are Sonny Bonds, a police officer of the fictional California suburb of Lytton. You start out patrolling the streets, stamping out crime as you go along. Assuming that you survive long enough, you get promoted to the Narcotics division where you have to break an illegal gambling ring.

The game is similar in Police Quest III> when it comes to presentation, ranging from the animated title screen to the copy protection that kicks in while you are in a certain place. Even some of the exterior shots are reused. There are some nice touches as well. I like how the walk cursor changes depending on what outfit Sonny is wearing. The tutorial to the driving interface is pretty neat, and I was impressed by its layout.

Sierra did a good job of staying true to the source material. Every incident is there, ranging from the car crash victim to the bust at the Hotel Delphoria; and every major character that was seen in the original game makes a comeback. But Sierra made some subtle changes in the process. The excellent script was re-worked, and it makes the characters more mature. The game also seems to be more realistic. You start the game by walking into the locker room like the original, but you can't just open your locker without referring to the Gazette. And it is necessary to go “by the book” when it comes to police procedure.

The hand-painted backgrounds look stunning. I like how the two outdoor areas, Bert's Park and Cotton Cove, look. It is also to see how the police station is structured. Everything is not on one floor like the original game. Ironically, this game is set in 1992, yet the police station itself is downgraded from three floors and lacks a few rooms seen in the third game.

Sound-wise, the music is brilliantly composed and reflects the situation you're in quite well. I said many times in the past that the music sounds much better played through the Roland MT-32 sound module. In this game, however, it is better through the Sound Blaster. The digitized sound effects are pretty neat. I like the sound of the squad car's siren when you turn it on (and also the fact that you can bypass many stop signs on your way to your destination), but that is second to the evil laugh you hear on the “death screen”. It's so good that I just had to make Bonds die just to hear it over and over again.

The Bad

While the Police Quest stays close to the source material as close as possible when it comes to the story, there are some changes that I didn't like, and most of these changes are already discussed in the Trivia section. Having played the original game from 1987, I was disappointed at the ending, as it skips a vital scene that makes it follow into the Police Quest II.

One of the screenshots on the back cover depicts a superior driving interface to the one that we see in the actual game. There are no traffic lights shown, or are there any green road signs. In the “real” driving interface, the arrows are too confusing and there was no need for the siren to be restricted in a specific area.

The Bottom Line

The remake may be excellent, but had Jim Walls stuck around at Sierra a little bit longer, it would be quite different. The graphics and sound is great, and the script is brilliant. The game is even more realistic than the original. As the remake is non-canonical, people who are just come to grips with the Police Quest world may not realize that there is a sequel to the game.