Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel

aka: PQ, PQ1, Police Quest 1
Moby ID: 146
Amiga Specs

Description official description

Sonny Bonds is a small town policeman who must fight against the rising tide of drugs in his city. The game is based on real police procedure and adheres carefully to following the rules of police work. Beginning as a patrol officer and working into detectives, Sonny will chase down the infamous Death Angel and put an end to his criminal underworld.

A typical Sierra parser game built with the popular AGI engine, Police Quest differs from the others release by the company in the realism of the setting and travelling, that is done by car, controlled by the player using a overhead view (instead of the cabbie of Leisure Suit Larry or walking around in Space Quest). Some sections of the game require the player to be efficient driving the car (as there are a fair number of chases, and traffic rules also apply to the player).

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Credits (Amiga version)

11 People

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 75% (based on 22 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 109 ratings with 12 reviews)

If you ever REALLY wanted to know what being a cop was like, this game is well worth a look.

The Good
As the game that made me interested in law enforcement, and eventally led me to a career in the field, this game holds a very special place for me. Instead of the normal images of cops (shooting anything that moves and always getting the bad guys), this game presents a more realistic image of the job. The attention to actual police procedure, while not perfect down to the details, is very accure and to my knowledge, the most accure to be presented in a computer game to date. Beginning as a patrol officer, making traffic stops and arresting drunks, you slowly work through small leads to start to gain a picture of what is really going on in the town you work in. A good deal of the first part of the game is actually spent driving a car around the city. And a lot of the time, nothing happens. This is actually real. There is not a blazing gun battle every two minutes and if you are not careful you might miss that drunk on the road or that woman who ran the red light.

The latter part of the game gets a little more fantastic, but is still believable. While adding in elements of what I call "Hollywood" cop movies, you are selected for an undercover job and have to penetrate the underworld of a criminal. This usually is not how police work is done, at least in my experience, but it still presents this in a beleivable manner in which you still have to do things "by the book".

The Bad
The dounut shop. For God's sake, we get a bad enough reputation for this as it is. Give me a break.

The Bottom Line
Anyone who ever wanted to just get a small glimpse of what being a police officer is like should check this game out. Written by a former police officer, Jim Walls, this game shows some things that have never been touched on before or since. How often do you see cops just driving around looking for something, praying that something will happen before they die of boredom? While it is still a computer game, I would recommend someone check this out before they watch "Cops". In addition to that, this is one of the Sierra classic adventure games and shows the reason that Sierra became a great game company.

DOS · by Andy Roark (263) · 1999

One of the best text adventures

The Good
Regardless of the game, I like the idea of a text adventure about police work. So you're "fighting evil" like in any other game, but in a more realistic, procedural way. Doing all the preparations, considering safety etc. But I think the game might have been boring if Sonny Bonds hadn't been a bit like Roger Wilco. Sonny is supposed to be a 15 year veteran, but because the average player isn't, Sonny is treated more like a rookie, mocked and told off for making mistakes. Also, there's some light mockery of the police in general, good for those who have run-ins with the cops and I guess, acknowledging that sometimes the law sucks and deserves a bit of mockery. Undoubtedly, any mockery is balanced with deadly seriousness. The encounter with gunman "Marvin Hoffman" was probably the height of the tension in the game, you had to follow step-by-step procedure or be shot dead.

The Bad
The more I played the game, the more I started to feel that, as faithful to police work and police life it might be, it's a bit too black and white when it comes to cops and robbers. There's a bit of a "time to clean the filth from the streets" attitude. As the only villain in the game of any real depth, I think Jason Taselli/Marvin Hoffman is pretty respectable, he doesn't come quietly. One of the biggest problems with the game is Jessie "The Death Angel" Bains. As far as I'm concerned Taselli/Hoffman is the real death angel. Bains is only introduced late in the game as a friend of Taselli's and there's nothing to suggest he's bigger and badder than Taselli.

The Bottom Line
Well I still think it's one of the best text adventures, regardless of what one thinks of the cops. Maybe Space Quest 1 is a little better, because you're playing a very average fellow who is somehow given the chance to become the savior of his race.

DOS · by Andrew Fisher (697) · 2018

Experience what it's like to be a cop

The Good
Back in the Eighties, Sierra was on a role with many of their high-profile adventure games becoming successful. In 1987, they hired Jim Walls, a retired California patrol officer who was asked to create a new game based on everyday police life. Hence, it wasn't going to be like any other game that Sierra released, where everything in the game is make believe. Furthermore, the game was used by real police officers as a way to improve their skills.

In this game, you play Officer Sonny Bonds, a cop of the Lytton Police Department who starts his day doing normal police work. Later, he gets promoted to Detective and does bigger things like breaking up a major drug ring and stopping someone nicknamed "The Death Angel". It is nice to play a police officer for once, as you are given an insight of how things operate; and although the cop himself and the city is fictitious, how you go about doing things is not. The game provides plenty of fun and lots of adventuring as you spend your time issuing tickets, arresting criminals, and dealing with biker scum, among other things.

While patrolling the streets, you get to meet a variety of characters. Some characters are good and may help you get through the game, while some are dangerous. Only a few of them have ridiculous names like Morris Fudley, Helen Hots, Hoochie Coochie Hannah, Whipplestick, and Fuddrucker. For a game that focuses on the real world, you would think Sierra made up real names for these characters. Helen Hots, the girl you pull over, lives up to her name. You can get a close-up view of her, and you can see the top of her blouse is unbuttoned. This is a nod to Leisure Suit Larry.

There are quite a few locations you need to drive to. As soon as you start the engine, you are presented with a map that occupies more than one screen. Even under the low resolution Sierra's old engine was capable of, the map is well laid out and each section of it still looks good. Each location you visit is beautifully drawn, and I liked exploring each one.

The game encourages you to perform certain tasks such as inspecting your squad car to make sure there are no flat tires, obeying normal road rules, and locking your gun up before you enter the jail. The game ends if you don't do these things. Most of the reviews I read on here criticize these, but that's real life. If there is a red light blocking my way, I managed to bypass it by leaving the screen then coming back. Simple as that.

You can die in this game, in each situation you are faced with. Death is mainly caused by doing something foolish. Some of the actions you can perform are quite amusing, and so far I have managed to remove my clothes any time during the game, walk out of the locker room wearing nothing but a towel, and call up the girl I just pulled over.

The sound is PC speaker only, which means that you will only hear one voice for the music. That is what sound was like back then, at a time before soundcards were invented. If you have a Tandy computer, the music and sound effects are much better as they have three voices instead of one.

The Bad
I didn't have a problem with the parser in other Sierra adventures, but I found the parser used in Police Quest very strict. Many times did I try to execute an action, only to have the game respond with "How can you do that?" or "You can't do that -- at least, not now". There are no alternate command. You need to type in a specific command to perform the action you want.

Sierra went through a time where they just had to put a poker game here and there, and the player is forced to play them to progress through the game. Police Quest is no different, and in this case, it's a poker game that happens near the very end of the game. I would rather skip and lose points for doing so, which is what you can do in the SCI remake of the game.

The Bottom Line
As I said before, playing Police Quest showed me the day to day operations of a police officer. You spent half of the game patrolling the streets, arresting anyone breaking the law and having a coffee break with one of your colleagues, but eventually you get promoted to Detective where you eventually nab "The Death Angel". I would play this game again because I found situations and other bits about the game interesting. The graphics and sound are okay, but they are better if you happen to have a Tandy computer. The only real turn-off is the poker game that you are forced to play near the end of the game.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2012

[ View all 12 player reviews ]

Trivia

Cell Block Love

The love story between Sonny and Marie is retold - from Marie's point of view, and tongue-in-cheek - in the song Cell Block Love in Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out.

Development

The game was written by Jim Walls, a former California State Police Officer, who also wrote the following two Police Quest games.

Humour

  • The unmarked cadillac used by the narcs is said to be confiscated from a recent arrest when Sonny looks at it personally, but if the player selects "See Object" and selects the key to the cadillac, the game will inform him that it is a government issued, unmarked car.
  • If Sonny trades his integrity for some quick sex with Helen Hots, she will give him a telephone number to call her at. If he calls this number, he may reach the Police Commissioner's wife. It doesn't end well for his career.

References

  • When the feathers of the chicken on the desk fall on the ground and the player types "pick up feather" the reply will be "Do that in King's Quest III"
  • When the chicken is in Dooley's office, the Astro Chicken tune from Space Quest 3, 4 and 5 is played.
  • Entering certain words in the crime computer comes up with amusing results. Some that work are programmers 'Al Lowe,' 'Ken Williams,' and 'Jim Walls.' Various dirty words also have listings.
  • Another King’s Quest III reference can be found in the beginning of the game. Enter the briefing room and pick up the newspaper lying there. Browse through it until you stumble upon an article about a town called Daventry under siege by a three-headed dragon. Daventry is the town in which the fantasy adventure King’s Quest III is played. In the article, a gnome is mentioned as well. This could well be the one sitting on a chair in front of a cabin at the end of King’s Quest III.
  • The pimp from Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards makes a cameo appearance in the game. He can be found behind bars at the Lytton City Jail.

Information also contributed by -Chris, B14ck W01f, Erwin Bergervoet, Jason Mugrave, Ju, just Ju..., Sciere and uclafalcon

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Related Sites +

  • Crap Shoot
    A humorous review on PC Gamer
  • Hints for Police Quest 1
    These hints will help you solve the game.
  • ScummVM
    supports the DOS, Macintosh, Amiga and Apple IIgs versions of Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.

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  • MobyGames ID: 146
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andy Roark.

Amiga added by POMAH. Apple IIgs added by Kabushi. Apple II added by Terok Nor. Atari ST added by Belboz. Macintosh added by lampadario.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Jeanne, Jayson Firestorm, Macs Black, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 29, 1999. Last modified January 29, 2024.