Platform: DOS, Amiga
Review: Another game, another promotion, another hair-dye, another bad day for your significant other. Your wife is stabbed in a parking lot on her way home from work and has fallen into a coma. Though you are now a sergeant, Captain Hall has authorized you to work as a homicide detective in this case as there are other murder cases that may be related.
The production values are excellent once more. The graphics and sound have taken a giant leap, and the pont-and-click interface does not detract from the gameplay. Firing your weapon is as fun as ever and you’ll use it more than once. Driving is also back, though is less intuitive and less useful than in Police Quest 1. While you do chase some perps, driving becomes tedious fairly soon and damn near impossible on fast computers without a slowdown program.
The plot is developed over a six-day period, though it not as tightly wound as the previous two games. Still, Sonny meets many interesting characters, visits some beautiful (and some dreary) locations, and must once again use logical thinking and correct police procedure to track down the killer.
Though it saddens me to admit it, designer Jim Walls makes two significant mistakes here. First, you are assigned a partner that has zero personality other than “super obvious slimy bitch.” She has no sense of humour. She obviously does not belong on the police force, especially in a department as high as homicide. From the very start, she is up to no good, and the player can figure out the hows and whys fairly quickly. What’s irritating is that Sonny can’t or won’t do anything about it until very late in the game. Meanwhile, the player has to watch the contrived charades for the duration.
case in point
Possibly even worse is that Sonny has lost all of his personality. Granted, he is in a serious position, and his wife is in the hospital, but there is nothing distinguishing about Sonny here for gamers to remember him by. Thus, it becomes hard to empathize with him.
The programmers also made a significant “We had to hurry to get this game out by Christmas” mistake. Day 6 is chocked full of some serious police work and intense situations. However, there is a bug that makes the entire day repeat if you do something trivial in the wrong order.
Thankfully, there are some new features that give the game some bonus points. There are several potential endings, which would give the game even more replay value than the forerunners if it weren’t for the subpar plot. Also, when you die (which will be quite often), Jim Walls will appear on the screen, mocking you. He provides what little humour is left in the series.
Definitely play this game if you liked the previous two, as it nicely wraps up the Bonds saga. However, casual adventurers are probably wise to pass it up as it doesn’t really work as a stand-alone game. I fully admit my love for this game is mostly nostalgia.
Contemporary Rating: Medium. All the pointless driving is annoying, plus it’s tied in to your computer’s memory, so getting it to work today is a chore.
Cruelty Rating: Polite. There is one walking dead situation, but it’s only for about two minutes, so as long as your only save file is at a ridiculous spot, you’ll be fine. Considering you can die frequently, you’ll be saving plenty anyway.