BLUE FORCE / Tsunami / PC

                         "And no Hot Carls either!"

I have no idea whether Sierra gave Jim Walls the boot or he left of his own volition, but he wound up at Tsunami Games, a fledgling adventure game company mostly made up of other Sierra expats which never really did get off the ground and produce a hit game. Walls' only output for them was 1993's Blue Force, a cop game in the vein of Police Quest that necessarily starts over with new characters and a new setting since Sierra retained the rights to the Police Quest property.

I found all three of Walls' Police Quest games interesting, even if the "police procedure" focus made the games tedious at times, the writing was painfully amateurish, and Walls' rather extreme right-wing morality and social views permeated the narrative. I thought Police Quest 2 worked the best of all three, chiefly because there was no driving sequence, but also because you were a detective at that point and focused on more interesting detective things rather than anal traffic stops and booking procedures. The game also let you ignore/skip a lot of procedural steps with the only cost being a lower final score than the maximum.

Much as with Police Quest 3, Blue Force begins with you on general patrol duties but becomes more "investigative" after the first couple of game days pass. Unlike the Police Quest games, however, "procedure" is kept to an absolute minimum even when you're on patrol as a beat cop, and even much of the little things can be skipped with no cost other than to your final score.

This is good, generally speaking, but the weak writing washes it out. The game sort of shambles along as a collection of tired cop show cliches and action movie tropes. The world and setting is that of a mediocre police drama that likely wouldn't have lasted on TV for more than two seasons, and the characters and story are like a particularly bad episode of that mediocre show. Jake Ryan's dad was an officer who was murdered after an undercover operation, 14 years later Ryan grows up and joins the force himself, and by an incredible deus-ex-machina string of coincidence he'll get drawn into an investigation in his first few days of cop work that leads ultimately to a showdown with his father's killer. Everything here is cheesy, predictable and tired and the characters are as weak/boring as those of any of the PQ games, if not more so.

On the plus side, the interface is decent, though I felt there was one click too many involved in bringing up the actions menu and then selecting an icon. I like the digitized talking heads at the bottom of the screen and wish more adventure games had done something like this, but the sprites look poorly "cut out" from their original video sources and often have bits of colored border that can be seen against the background. There's some decent backdrops, but the game generally looks averagey at most times and has some rather ugly bits. The soundtrack is pretty bad. The music itself isn't horrible, but it is very forgettable, and doesn't loop or seem to be dynamically tied to the scene in any way, it just sort of plays once and then quits.

Throw in the very slow pacing (I appreciate detailed animation but not when it's this slow, or when the animations really aren't all necessary or even entertaining) and you've got a game that's really just a boring slog for the most part, unless you really like police games or cheesy cop dramas for some reason.

                Icy Hot Stuntaz ain't afraid of prison

Videos :

* How to fail at Blue Force


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