Police Quest

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Police Quest is a series of police simulation video games produced and published by Sierra On-Line between 1987 and 1998. The first five games were adventure game/simulations, the first three of which were designed by former policeman Jim Walls.

The fourth and later titles were designed by former LAPD Chief Daryl F. Gates. The fifth game in the Police Quest series, Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest: SWAT, was released in 1995 but was a more of a first-person FMV tactical simulator/interactive movie rather than more traditional third-person graphic adventure of the previous games. Though it was still advertised as an adventure, and utilized a version of the SCI (Sierra Creative Interpreter) adventure game engine used in the previous game Open Season, and thus functioned in a similar manner to Sierra's other FMV games or adventures of the era (I.E. Phantasmagoria, Gabriel Knight II, King's Quest VII). Both SWAT and the real-time strategy game SWAT 2 still carried the Police Quest name (and were numbered V and VI in the series respectively), although subsequent titles in the series would drop the Police Quest title altogether.

On July 16, 2013, Jim Walls announced Precinct, a Kickstarter proposal for a spiritual successor to the Police Quest franchise.[1] Sierra veteran Robert Lindsley has been signed on as the game's executive producer. The game will be developed by newly established studio Jim Walls Reloaded, where Lindsley also serves as the company's president.[2] The game aspires to follow the classic Sierra adventure game formula with a "modern feel". It had a funding goal of $500,000, with a fundraising period stretching from July 16, 2013 to August 16, 2013.

However, this project was not successful and Walls cancelled the Kickstarter fundraising on August 6, 2013. Subsequently, Walls and Lindsley announced that they would instead launch an alternative fundraising campaign for Precinct, which they called "new and unique".[3] The new crowdfunding campaign would not have the same time restrictions as Kickstarter has and the game will be launced once the funding from its backers is secured. However, this campaign was also unsuccessful and was shut down two weeks later as Lindsley explained: "We simply don't have the momentum needed to meet the requirements of this project". Nevertheless, Walls and Lindsley still remain hopeful to realise Precinct sometime in the future.[4]

Games in the series[edit]

Jim Walls series (1-3)[edit]

The first three games were produced by former police officer Jim Walls, and follow the adventures of Sonny Bonds (a character whose name and appearance was loosely based off his own son, Sonny Walls). Jim Walls makes a cameo appearance in each game usually in the introduction (its suggested that he may be each game's narrator).

Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel
Cover art for the VGA version

Released in 1987 using Sierra's Adventure Game Interpreter parser engine, Police Quest cast the player as Sonny Bonds, a 15 year veteran police officer in the fictional town of Lytton, California. Assigned to traffic duty, Sonny investigates what appears to be a simple car crash but turns out to be a homicide. Sonny continues to give a traffic violation citation, single-handedly face a tough gang of drunken bikers, and make a DUI arrest. As the game progresses, he goes from patrol to temporary narcotics detective and finally undercover, tracking "The Death Angel", a murderous drug dealer named Jessie Bains. Sonny is assisted by "Sweet Cheeks" Marie, his former high school sweetheart who is now working as a prostitute.

The game is the most realistic of those developed by Sierra in the late 1980s when compared to Leisure Suit Larry, King's Quest, or Space Quest, and featured many puzzles where proper police procedure is required to succeed.[5] It was released for MS-DOS, Apple II, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST and Apple IIGS. A SCI1.1 enhanced remake in 256 color VGA was released in 1992, which was also the first game released in the series not to feature dead ends.

Police Quest II: The Vengeance
PQ 2 Game Cover

Released in 1988 and running on the then-current SCI0 engine. After arresting Jessie Bains, Bonds is permanently promoted to the homicide division. He begins dating Marie Wilkans, who helped him in his undercover work in exchange for the dismissal of prostitution charges against her. A dark shadow is cast over his happy life, however, when Bains escapes from prison and seeks revenge. With the help of his partner Keith, Bonds must protect his girlfriend's life as well as his own while pursuing The Death Angel once again. Despite Sonny's efforts, however, Bains kills several people who were involved in his arrest and abducts Marie. Sonny pursues Bains to Steelton, the current home of Donald Colby (a reformed drug pusher from the original Police Quest).

Police Quest II is notably more 'mature' than the first title in the series, and relies much more on proper procedure; failure to properly maintain Sonny's firearm at various points throughout the game will cause it to malfunction or misfire, and proceeding into a dangerous situation without proper backup will usually prove fatal.

Police Quest III: The Kindred
PQ 3 Game Cover

Sonny and Marie married following Bains' death. Promoted once more, Sonny now has to deal with rampant crime as a drug cartel begins operating in Lytton and evidence of a satanic cult starts to appear. When Marie is stabbed in a mall parking lot, Sonny's police work becomes personal.

Sonny must deal with a partner with questionable ethics as well as find patterns in crime to find his next lead. The Bains family also plays a role in this game.

Released in 1991 for SCI version 1, PQ3 is completely mouse-driven. It was only released for the IBM PC and the Amiga. Before the completion of this game, Jim Walls had left Sierra for reasons that have still not been publicly explained, leaving Jane Jensen to finish the final in-game dialogue and messages. SWAT founder Daryl F. Gates was named to take over the Police Quest series while Walls - along with several former Sierra employees - would go on to design Blue Force, an adventure game similar to the Police Quest series.

Daryl F. Gates' series (4-6)[edit]

The later games in the series were designed by Tammy Dargan and produced by former L.A. Chief Daryl Gates, in a different style in both atmosphere, and later even in genre. Like the original series by Jim Walls, Daryl Gates makes cameo appearances in each game. Police Quest V and IV were later spun off into the SWAT series. Unlike the earlier games in the series, these were listed as "Daryl F Gates' Police Quest", rather than being a numbered series (the numbered titles were still used in packaging and printed material included with the compilation CDs).

Police Quest: Open Season

Daryl F. Gates' first game for Sierra departed completely from the style of the previous games. The player was no longer cast as Sonny Bonds, but as John Carey; the action was no longer in fictional Lytton, but in Los Angeles, California. Carey, an LAPD homicide detective whose best friend was killed in the line of duty, must track down a serial murderer in L.A.

Numerous mature themes are depicted in the game, including hate crimes, Neo-Nazism, and youth involved in crime. Graphic imagery within the game also includes the body of a child murdered by gang violence and a severed head in a refrigerator.

Using SCI2, the biggest difference visually is the use of scanned photos as backgrounds, unlike the hand-drawn scenery used before, and character sprites of higher quality (live actors filmed from green screen). It was released in 1993, for both IBM PC and Macintosh. The game is generally incompatible with Windows 95, and later editions; the game may crash at certain points in the game, e.g. the shooting gallery and the shoot out. This, however, was fixed with the release of the CD version with Windows installer.

This game is the most 'mature' of the Police Quest series of games; while previously only a peripheral element, the themes of drug abuse, police corruption and gang violence play prominent roles in this game. Police procedure is less of an element in the game, pushed aside for the sake of storytelling.

The game is only referred to as Police Quest IV in a few places in the files and the credits.

Police Quest: SWAT

The fifth game of Police Quest series, and the first SWAT, Police Quest: SWAT was a full motion video first-person (FMV) tactical simulation/adventure. Much like the previous game, the game includes scanned photos as backgrounds and green screen film techniques for FMV and sprites (but at a much higher resolution). It retained several adventure game elements such as the item inventory and had similarities to other FMV adventure games released around the same time by Sierra (utilizing the same SCI2 game engine of the previous game). There are sequences where you must click on and interview witnesses, to get information to decide best approach (these portions of the game are done in the 'third person'). Whenever traveling between areas or meeting people, the player is seen in the third-person as well. Once in a mission the player is able to string together commands to team mates through a noun verb system using the LASH. The game comprises training and later missions in the field. The training missions function similary to the gun training in Open Season.

Although the game is not referred to as PQV in the title screen, it is referred to as such in several other locations in the game including the files, and the game credits, and certain versions of the packaging (near the ISBN/barcode) & documentation. "Police Quest 5: SWAT" was re-released as part of the second Police Quest Collection,[6] and later as part of the Police Quest: SWAT Force SWAT Career Pack (which included all six PQ games) & Police Quest: SWAT Generation compilations.

Police Quest: SWAT 2

Police Quest: SWAT 2 is the sixth and final game of the original Police Quest series. It is a real-time strategy game using an original game engine. It retained only a few adventure game elements in the form of an inventory and use of a few puzzle items such as a pizza (to draw a suspect out of a house), and similar interface (look/search icon, pickup/hand icon, communication/talk/challenge icon, etc.). It is referred to as PQ6 in a few locations including its files. Sonny Bonds is one of the agents you may employ in the game. It was included as part of the Police Quest: SWAT Force & Police Quest: SWAT Generation compilations.

SWAT series (SWAT 3 and 4)[edit]

Although the Police Quest series continued after Open Season for two more games, these releases spawned the SWAT series and the series moved into different video game genres.

SWAT 3 and SWAT 4 are both tactical first person shooters, the only games of that type in the series. SWAT 4 is the final game in the full eight game series, though by this point it had nothing to do with the original games (with the exception of a cameo by Marie Bonds in SWAT3 and Sonny Bonds as a secondary character in SWAT4).

At this point neither Jim Walls or Daryl Gates were developers in the series (though Gates was a consultant on SWAT 3 along with the Advisor Kenneth A. Thatcher of LAPD).

The first SWAT game (technically "Police Quest 5: SWAT") was later re-released as part of the Police Quest Collection Series (the second Police Quest adventure compilation), and all six PQ games were released as part of the "SWAT Career Pack" (the third 'complete series' Police Quest Collection). The first two were released in a double pack called Police Quest: SWAT Force and more recently in the Police Quest: SWAT 1+2 pack on GoG.com. The first three SWAT games were in thr past released in a compilation entitled "Police Quest: SWAT Generation." SWAT 3 is currently sold separately on GoG.com - separate from the Police Quest packs.

Collections and re-releases[edit]

Sierra's first re-release of the games in a collection was in 1995 as "Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest Collection: The Four Most Wanted". The package was released under the "Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest" series title, to cash in on the then newly released "Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest: SWAT". Extras included behind the scenes history with the game creators. An abridged copy of the L.A. department police manual. Finally, it included a video interview with Daryl F. Gates.

The second re-release collection was released in 1997 as "Police Quest Collection Series". It contained Police Quest 1-3, 4:Open Season, and 5:SWAT. It also included the Daryll gates interview and manuals & documentation from previous collection and PQ5.

The two Police Quest: SWAT games were re-released in 1999 in a collection called Police Quest: SWAT Force.

The third re-release collection was released in 2000, as the "SWAT Career Pack" which included all six Police Quests; 1-3, Open Season, SWAT, & SWAT2. It also included a demo for SWAT3.

In 2003, the first three SWAT games were released in the "Police Quest: SWAT Generation" compilation.

In September 2006, Vivendi Games the next re-release collection was "Police Quest Collection: Step Behind the Badge" including four games of the series. It included the first four Police Quest games in one compilation (minus the original AGI version of PQ1). The package was designed to be compatible with Windows XP, thanks to the use of the DOSBox emulator.[7]

Since January 18, 2011 Police Quest 1+2+3+4 pack and Police Quest: SWAT 1+2 (Police Quest: SWAT and Police Quest: SWAT 2) is internationally available at GOG.com in the form of digital download. The 2.0 installer for the Police Quest 1+2+3+4 pack added in the original PQ1 EGA version (The former collection was much like the Vivendi collection and lacked the AGI version of Police Quest 1).


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