Platform: DOS; Windows; Mac
Sierra hired Daryl F. Gates to help design the fourth installment in this best-selling series. The former LAPD chief and founder of SWAT has a good sense for tension and has a breadth of knowledge regarding police procedure and office atmosphere. However, his ability to design an adventure game is not readily apparent.
Sonny Bonds is nowhere to be seen, which is a good thing. However, John Carey is seen quite often, and he is about as interesting to watch as C-SPAN. His co-worker and friend has been murdered, so John has been assigned to the case. You must take notes, take pictures, fill out forms, talk to a lot of people, collect and submit evidence, take notes, fill out forms…
Most of the game is as repetitive and monotonous as the previous sentence. Some decent action sequences are mixed throughout the game, but they are difficult and using your firearm is more complicated than it should be. Some have said that Open Season works more as a police simulation rather than a police game. Fine. But it works rather horribly as a police simulation.
For starters, nearly every character you meet is made of cardboard. Some of them have attitude, but no personality. Flat and predictable is equivalent to some people you meet, but not all. To give credit where it’s due, the coroner is hilarious, cracking every joke possible about the cadavers he’s cutting into.
Secondly, the necessity for “puzzles” ruins any chance that this game could be used for police training. There is one puzzle near the end that is extravagantly silly, involving a stray dog and a rope. It was as if the designers were trying to tie in the crux of the game with the ending and ran out of ideas. So instead of trying to mask their difficulties, they threw their hands up in the air, breaching any sense of reality the game once had. In essence, they gave up.
Gates tried to be all things to all things, and wound up being very little to a very few. The ending is so poorly done that I cannot recommend this game to even the most dedicated adventurer. Use only as a sedative.