Have you ever suspected that cops drive around more or less aimlessly for most of the day? This game will not dispel your suspicions - you play the part of a cop, Sonny Bonds, patrolling the small American town of Lytton.
You start off at the local Police Station, where there is a briefing to attend (miss it at your peril!). There you learn about a serious drug problem in the town controlled by a drugs baron known as the Death Angel. The briefing over, it's time to get kitted out for the day's work ahead and get your patrol car out onto the streets.
And this is where Police Quest differs from other animated 3D adventures from Sierra. Once in the car, instead of moving the animated character around a perspective picture, your cursor keys control the patrol car, which is shown in plan view on scrollable sections of the town map. You have to drive carefully, keeping to the right hand side of the road, observing the traffic lights which change infuriatingly slowly!
Operating your car in this way is difficult. At the fast speed to which you will have probably set your character, it is almost impossible Even in slow mode it is extremely easy to misjudge exactly when to make a right turn. You only have to graze the kerb to get into a fatal smash. It pays to save the game position after you complete each major event.
Use the large fold-out map, which is provided in the package. As no buildings of interest are marked, one of the first jobs is to stop and get out when you can (you can only do this in lay-bys and car parks). Poke around a bit. Take the opportunity to mark up the map with useful locations.
Before long I came across my first corpse -a traffic victim with a bullet through his brain. The Death Angel was behind this, but I called up Homicide and left it to them to clean up the mess.
A brush with some violent bikers, an arrest on a VC23152 charge, and an 11-98 with Steve at Carol's Caffeine Castle, just part of a day's work. Don't know what a VC23152 or 11-98 is? Well, it's all there in the instruction manual - a list of vehicle codes, penal codes and radio codes. You never have to input these, but you do have to translate them from the messages received.
The text side of the game leaves a bit to be desired, with a number of fatuous replies for reasonabl commands such as "how can you do that?" in response to "ask about"... Apart from this, and the difficulties in driving, this is an interesting and fairly realistic game.
And now we know that Sonny Bonds will succeed in catching up with the Death Angel, or else how could he have escaped from jail? Yes, I've been peeking at the ST version of Police Quest II, which will be released for Amiga during June. So get moving, you've only a few weeks to get him behind bars!