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Police Quest 1 logo

Sierra/Activision, Amiga £19.99

Police Quest 1 And you thought life in the good old US of A was all donuts and MacDonald's – even for cops? Yeah, well, you shouldn't believe all those cute things they tell you in Sesame Street (Who ever heard of a talking bird, anyway?) On the other hand, no one in their right mind would believe all that screeching tyre and designer jumper Miami Vice stuff either.
So what's it really like for your average, ordinary cop wearing out shoe leather on the streets? No lizard's toenail, bumper Christmas party, I can tell you. There's loads of driving around and performing petty traffic duty for a start. And when you do finally get called to the scene of a crime, you've got to be pretty sure you follow the correct procedures for arresting, searching, calling for backup. Oh yeah - and you hardly ever end up shooting… Bah! Spoilsports!

Well now you can have a go at being one of these well hard routine sort of street cops yourself – in a combination of glorious Sierra interactive 3D and typed in verbal commands.
Rockford: Ev'ning all! It all starts out at police headquarters in Lytton. This is your comfy as a troll's hole base: come back at the end of the day for a shower (bleuch!), change back into civilian clothes, use the computer to follow up leads (you can actually type in data), get your daily briefing from the captain – the usual routine.

Thing: Allo, allo, allo! Your patrol car's just outside and most of the action involves manoeuvering it about an aerial view map of Lytton's streets. The idea is that once you're out of the station, you're free to investigate some of the city's locations, pull people up for driving offences and respond to radio alerts. Once you get good enough at that, you might even be promoted to going undercover and helping to rid the city of the notorious drug-dealer, Death Angel for the good of the force!

Ken D Fish: Wot's all this then? That's the idea anyway. In practise, the actual driving around is so awkward that if you survive long enough to get to the scene of more than one incident, you're so brilliant you should be given a life-long supply of lizard legs and promoted to Chief Of Police immediately. It takes just one tiny mistake with the mouse on the map for your car to career into the sidewalk and that's the end of the game. Oh yeah – and if you mess up one bit of police procedure (like not walking round your car first before you leave the car park), that's the end of your police career – dead realistic that. I know there's a save game option but it still seems like a pretty big cop out (geddit) to expect you to keep on saving every five seconds just in case you get thrown out of the game – again.

Survive long enough to actually get to any action and you're in for a big disappointment. The parser doesn't always understand the most obvious investigative questions (say about a number plate) and all you end up doing is performing a few routine actions. Maybe it gets more involved later on but I doubt you'll want to stay around that long.

Back: Ev'nin all.. Front: We're investigating the disappearance of a mr. Gen Watts! Maybe if you like Sierra games and can ignore all the sudden death situations they bung in as a matter of course and don't mind some pretty basic graphics, you might get a fair bit of fun out of this. As for me, I can do without loads of really annoying death scenes, uninteresting gameplay and not-very-exciting interactive graphics – especially for 25 quid. Think I'll buy myself a policeman's hat and start looking important down Ludlow Bridge instead – it's cheaper and there's a lot more scope of violence. Huaaargh!
Reviewed by Chuck Vomit (Fictional Gnome dreamed up by the Zzap! Crew)

Zzap! Issue 50, June 1989, pp.59-60