New Game Releases 10/19/21 – 10/25/21

There’s certainly new games coming out this week, but I’m honestly not that impressed. I would much rather talk about the 20th anniversary of Grand Theft Auto III, sound good? Okay, lets just get the formalities out of the way so we can move on and enjoy the good stuff.

 

Top Releases:

  • The Dark Pictures: House of Ashes (PC/PS4/PS5/XBone/Series X|S) – Releases Oct. 22nd
  • The Caligula Effect 2 (PS4/Switch) – Releases Oct. 19th
  • Into The Pit (PC/XBone) – Releases Oct. 19th
  • Disciples: Liberation (PC/PS4/PS5/XBone/Series X|S) – Releases Oct. 21st
  • Resident Evil 4 VR (Oculus Quest 2) – Releases Oct. 21st

 

Everything else:

  • Dying Light: Platinum Edition (Switch) – Releases Oct. 19th
  • Inscryption (PC) – Releases Oct. 19th
  • Youtubers Life 2 (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Oct. 19th
  • Grotto (PC) – Releases Oct. 20th
  • They Always Run (PC) – Releases Oct. 20th
  • Echo Generation (PC/XBone/Series X|S) – Releases Oct. 21st
  • Evertried (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Oct. 21st
  • Tandem: A Tale of Shadows (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Oct. 21st
  • My Friend Peppa Pig (PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Oct. 22nd

 

Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:

We’re going to start out of order this week because, let’s face it, Grand Theft Auto III is, whether you like it or not, probably the most important video game in modern history.

Grand Theft Auto III (PS2) – Released Oct. 22nd, 2001: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: From HellStarring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham
Notable Album Release: Incubus – Morning View

In 1997, game developer DMA Design released Grand Theft Auto for PC. It was a well received game, praised for its open ended design and over the top depiction of the life of a career criminal. In a world where most video games had you playing as a hero trying to stop bad guys, getting to play a game AS a villain was really intriguing. The game sold very well, but critical reception was mixed. The game’s graphics were not up to par with its contemporaries, and the top down view and messy controls were an issue for some critics, but overall, the game was still considered a good bit of fun, despite partaking in criminal activities. Its follow up, Grand Theft Auto 2 brought improved graphics as well as a stronger story, written by a newcomer named Dan Houser. Dan, and his brother Sam, came to DMA Design by way of their company BMG Interactive who had published the first Grand Theft Auto game. GTA2, like its predecessor, would get mixed reviews from critics, however they were particularly impressed with the game’s attention to detail, like the unique radio stations you could listen to. Overall, however, GTA2 just didn’t differentiate itself enough from the first game to be considered a “must play”. The graphics and top down view were still a hinderance, as were the poor controls. Critics felt like there was a really good game in there, it just needed to break itself free from its conventions, branch out and do something new.

During production of Grand Theft Auto 2, BMG Interactive was acquired by the company Take-Two Interactive, a developer/publisher that had found some major success in the mid-90’s with a couple of full-motion video titles, Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller and Ripper. Both games featured video cutscenes and starred some well known names, including Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Karen Allen, and Burgess Meredith. In 1997, a company called Blam! was having trouble publishing their game Monkey Hero after BMG Interactive was shuttered by its parent corp, BMG Entertainment. Take-Two stepped in and published the game, but the biggest news to come out of this was that BMG Interactive, and more importantly the lucrative GTA IP was up for grabs. Take-Two’s founder, Ryan Brant, met with the three BMG Interactive leads, Dan & Sam Houser and Jamie King, as well as Terry Donovan who worked at Arista Records (also owned by BMG), and convinced the four men to start their own company and work as a Take-Two Subsidiary. The men agreed and they christened their new company Rockstar Games. Their first release would be the GTA expansion Mission Pack #1 – London 1969, and it was decided that the team would work on multiple games that fit the GTA aesthetic. These would include another GTA expansion, the already mentioned GTA2, Monster Truck Madness 64 and Earthworm Jim 3D for the N64, the skateboarding game Thrasher: Skate and Destroy on the PlayStation, as well as the, mmm, interesting choice to release two Austin Powers games for the Game Boy Color that not only featured mini games as well, but was also a functioning PDA app. The company wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but that was all about to change.

With the release of Sony’s PlayStation 2 in 2000, Rockstar and Take-Two were all-in on its release, putting out several launch titles, including two racing games that seemed to almost function like GTA III tech demos; Smuggler’s Run and Midnight Club: Street Racing. These two titles did very well for Rockstar, and you can certainly see the GTA aesthetics in full force with these titles. Meanwhile, as all of these games were releasing, DMA Design was hard at work on Grand Theft Auto III putting the game together. It was decided that this next installment of the franchise needed to retain all of its previous elements, but it had to function in a 3D environment. Sony’s PS2 was a powerhouse machine at the time and producer Leslie Benzies was adamant that the game be made in 3D, as the DVD format used by the PS2 would allow for a massive amount of storage on the disc. Benzies felt that the game’s underlying principle was that its location, Liberty City, feel like a real, vibrant city that was alive and lived in. There should be history there, buildings should look old and new (depending on where you are). The radio stations had to feel like real channels with unique DJ’s, songs, and commercial breaks. The commercial breaks would then have to be referenced again on billboards and storefronts, and even in the game’s manual. Liberty City needed to feel like just like any real place. Imagine, if you will, what it was like growing up. You probably knew the streets around your house and your school, and you probably knew the way to the mall and your favorite fast food place, but that was about it. Once you got a car you saw a little bit more of your town, and as you got older and moved out of the house you saw a little bit more, and a little bit more, until it finally got to where you could get to just about any place in the city if you needed to. That’s what Liberty City feels like. From the streets of the Red Light District to the docks, to the university, all the way to the airport and fancy mansions in the hills, you will eventually become so familiar with Liberty City, and its bustling, vibrant streets that it starts to feel like a real place.

Grand Theft Auto III, believe it or not, takes a lot of inspiration from Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda series. The first time I played GTA III and got to know its world, I was taken back to being a kid in 5th grade, playing A Link To The Past. That world felt so rich and imaginative, a place where I memorized every location and truly felt like a resident. I would conjure up backstories in my mind about the people who lived in Kakariko Village and about the witches and the Zoras, it was a second home. Grand Theft Auto III also did this for me. Every building, despite not being able to enter them, felt like it was home to thousands, and I was so curious about who these people were. I was destroying the world around them and I couldn’t help but think what it must be link to have to live with all this mayhem. This is the beauty of Grand Theft Auto III and the entire team that put it together. Sam and Dan Houser were the main force behind the game’s tone and feel, and it was their love of the Zelda and Mario games, as well as their affinity for classic films, particularly crime dramas like Goodfellas, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Heat, that had the biggest influence. It also can’t be understated how much influence the HBO series The Sopranos had on the game, and its marketing, as well. In writing the game’s story, Dan Houser and co-writer James Worrall wanted to use GTA III as a spring board for satire and social commentary, and they felt that with a 3D world in a recognizable city would help them achieve that much better than had been done in the previous GTA games. Liberty City, while most obviously modeled after New York City, is supposed to have an “every town” feel, with elements of Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia all combining to be Rockstar’s take on the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

The programming team and the writers worked very closely together, with Houser, Worrall, and Paul Kurowski writing content, giving it to the programmers who would then craft pieces of the game and its world. Sometimes a story idea wouldn’t fit the programming so they’d redo the piece, craft some more story, and the programmers would get back to it. This back and forth would last most of the life of the project, with the programming team often coming into work with a massive wall of post-it notes full of ideas to implement (a workaholic attitude that would plague Rockstar for years to come). With so much player freedom, Dan and the writing team found it difficult to just write a story from start to finish, as players could, effectively, play the game whatever order they felt like. While certain missions from one NPC would be gated behind missions from other NPC’s, there was still a lot of freedom to move around. While the city and side characters would be colorful and outlandish, the writing team felt that the game’s protagonist should be a strong, silent type. Initially unnamed, we’d eventually learn that his name is Claude, and the team just thought it would be a nice juxtaposition to have Claude be a silent killer while being constantly harassed and a bossed around by neurotic gang leaders and grifters. The story is pretty standard mobster stuff for the most part. In the game’s opening scene, Claude and his crew are pulling off a bank heist in Liberty City. His girlfriend, Catalina, betrays Claude by shooting him and leaving him for dead. He’s arrested and patched up, but the transport car he is in gets attacked by the Columbian Cartel who take another prisoner. Claude and yet another passenger, 8-Ball, are able to escape, at which point 8-Ball takes Claude to a safe house and introduces him to his contact in the Leone crime family. Claude works his way up the ranks and over the course of the game he meets even more gang leaders, typically pissing off the old gangs, and slowly but surely, Claude begins to make a name for himself among the criminal underworld in Liberty City. He meets crooked cops, a crooked real estate developer, the Yakuza, and many more, all leading up to a final showdown with Catalina.

That story is just a rough guideline for the player to follow, and his how they can unlock various parts of the city that are initially closed off to them. The real fun of Grand Theft Auto III, for most people, is the unbridled freedom you have to do whatever you want. With no time limits or restrictions (for the most part), GTA III is like a big sandbox waiting for you to play around in. Aside from the main missions there are various side missions you can play, there are three vehicle based mini-games; a taxi to drop off fares and earn cash, a fire truck to put out fires and eventually earn a flamethrower and fire invincibility, and a police car in which you take on vigilante missions for the opportunity to pay off the police when your wanted level increases. Yes, that’s right, your wanted level. As GTA III is a game about criminals committing crimes, as you cause mayhem around the city you will attract the attention of the police. Your wanted level is indicated by six stars and the law enforcement response is equal to the number of stars. One or two stars and the cops do their best to catch you, but they are easily avoided. 3 and 4 stars and your starting to see helicopters appear and the SWAT team involved, 5 and 6 stars and you will get chased by FBI agents and eventually the military and their tanks. One of the most common, and hilarious/controversial ways to evade police is by getting your car spray painted a different color. Let’s say 5 cop cars are following you in your brown van. Find the Pay N Spray shop, pull into it, change the color to blue, and you’re home free. This total disregard for reality is part of GTA III’s charm, and is a deliberate choice by the creators. They realized when making the game that they needed to have a fine balance between realism and fantasy because of how horrific players actions could be. We should all be greatly appalled at mass shootings and violent crime, and Claude, based on the actions of players, is one of the biggest mass murderers in history. Yet, because the game is so fake, so funny, and uses its characters and settings to take satirical jabs at the idea of organized crime, you tend to forgive it all. Besides, have you heard the people of Liberty City talk?

In keeping with the realism of the game’s world, every car you get into (aside from emergency ones) gives players access to a nine different radio stations. Eight play music while one is all talk radio. There’s Head Radio, an adult contemporary station hosted by Michael Hunt (thank goodness he doesn’t go by Mike); Double Cleff, a classical station hosted by Morgan Merryweather; K-JAH, a reggae station hosted by Horace Walsh; Rise FM, a dance/house music station hosted by Andre “The Accelerator”; Lips 106, a Top 40 station hosted by Andee; Game Radio FM, a Hip-Hop/Gangsta Rap station hosted by Stretch Armstrong & Lord Sear; MSX FM, a drum ‘n’ bass station hosted by MC Codebreaker; Flashback 95.6, a 1980’s pop station (featuring songs from the Scarface soundtrack) hosted by Toni who has one of the funniest lines in the game during the song She’s On Fire, “I’ve done a lot of crazy things but I’ve never been on fire, at least not to my knowledge“; finally there’s Chatterbox-FM, a talk radio station hosted by Lazlow, and is a stylized version of the real DJ/comedian Lazlow Jones (who would work at Rockstar for nearly 20 years). While GTA III was not the first game in the series to feature radio stations, it did increase its reliance on licensed music, however not as much as later entries, and the talk radio station was a first as well. The team wanted to incorporate the talk radio as a way to give even further life to the city, letting players hear from the people who actually lived in Liberty City, including some they may have already met. Their problems and stories were typically over the top and crazy but, again, this was a deliberate choice, with the developers feeling like if they could portray something so outrageous and genuine, it would give the game world a very surreal feel, further upping the fantasy elements of what you’re seeing and doing.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago during the release of Silent Hill 2, there seemed to be a real push from the video game industry to make content that was on par with films. Companies spent the 1990’s doing this with full motion video, including Rockstar Parent company Take-Two, but as 3D graphics got better and animation and sound improved, the thought of making a real “movie game” just got more and more in reach. If GTA III’s (relatively) massive and vibrant open world, or its realistic radio stations didn’t already immerse you enough, then once you got a taste of your first cutscene did you really start to think this place was alive. The character models are, admittedly, pretty poor, particularly when shown against something like Silent Hill 2, but this, AGAIN, plays to the game’s balance of realism vs. fantasy. If the models were too realistic then the whole thing kind of falls apart (a major point of contention in the modern GTA games), but if they’re a bit more simplistic and abstract, you don’t quite feel so bad when they die. Now, to portray these characters, Rockstar and DMA were able to amass a really talented group of actors. While they might not be major household names, fans of crime films and shows were no doubt very familiar with these actors. Portraying mob boss Salvatore Leone was Frank Vincent (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Sopranos), portraying pimp/club owner Luigi Goterelli was Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, The Goonies, Memento), portraying high level Leone family enforcer Toni Cipriani was Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill), portraying mechanic Joey Leone (and Salvatore’s son) was Michael Rappaport (Higher Learning, The 6th Day, True Romance), portraying Maria Latore, Salvatore’s girlfriend, was Debi Mazar (Goodfellas, Collateral, Entourage), portraying 8-Ball, an explosives expert and Claude’s earliest friend was rapper Guru, portraying real-estate tycoon (and sociopath) Donald Love was Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet), and portraying crooked cop Ray Machowski was the legendary Robert Loggia (Scarface, Big). The rest of the roles were filled with various professional voice actors and Rockstar employees, and the lines of recorded dialogue were somewhere between 8,000 and 18,000, depending on who you ask.

With most of the game finished by mid 2001 it was just polish in those last few months, or so the developers thought. Of course, since this is the year 2001, we can’t talk about a piece of pop culture without inevitably bringing up the events of September 11th. Liberty City, while not a direct recreation of New York City, is pretty close to the real thing, so 9/11 was certainly going to be on people’s minds when they played GTA III. Knowing this, Rockstar decided to delay the game from its initial September 19th release to October 22nd. In an interview with IGN on September 19th, Rockstar’s managing director Terry Donovan indicated that the team did a full content review of all their games and marketing materials to see if anything no longer met their standards. With GTA III they discovered small, contextual references that they were no longer comfortable with, as well as some gameplay elements that they felt were no longer appropriate. The Rockstar offices were only a few blocks away from the Ground Zero site, and Take-Two’s offices were not that far away either, with everyone working there being affected by the event in some way. According to Take-Two’s then-president of distribution, Paul Eibeler, “Everyone had someone who had an uncle or brother [who was impacted]…“. Some of the small changes were that airplane flight plans were altered so it never looked like a plane was flying into a building, and changes to pedestrian and talk show dialogue. An entire mission that referenced terrorists was cut as well, and all of the police cars in the game had their color scheme changed from the iconic NYC blue & white to the more generic and nationally known black & white. However, perhaps the biggest change of all was the cover art. Originally the artwork for the game’s cover was white and featured a jumble of violence, gun toting criminals, and a massive explosion. This was felt to be “too raw” for the market, so a new cover was created, this time featuring a more subdued, but artistic image, and one that would go on to become the trademark style of the series; the faces of various characters, and the protagonist, placed in small boxes around the page. It’s an elegant image that instantly gives the game a touch of prestige and legitimacy. Two things that often get incorrectly listed as 9/11 changes are the removal of an entire mission line about an anarchist who wants to blow up buildings in the game, with Rockstar claiming the character and missions were cut months earlier, and the poor flight controls of the Dodo airplane. Again, with Rockstar claiming that the airplane was always supposed to have terrible controls, as they didn’t want players just flying around the map with ease as it would have been too taxing on the system. The extra three weeks flew by, and it was finally time for the public to get ahold of Grand Theft Auto III.

As you might have guessed by this massive write up, as well as the multiple mentions earlier about how great the game is, Grand Theft Auto III was met with overwhelming praise when it was released. It’s Metacritic score is an amazing 97/100 where it shares the same company as several other masterpieces; Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild, Metroid Prime, Perfect Dark, Halo: Combat Evolved, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 & 3, NFL 2K1, Disco Elysium, The House in Fata Morgana, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Grand Theft Auto V. It received perfect scores from 1Up.com, AllGame, Eurogamer, GamePro, and GameRevolution, and nearly perfect scores from just about everyone else. Critics were astounded with GTA III and had never seen a game like it. While the open world concept wasn’t new, particularly to fans of RPGs, the way that GTA III put it together, particularly through its mission system and non-linear progression, were mind-blowing for a console game. Before GTA III there hadn’t really been a game this immersive on a console, save for maybe Ocarina of Time, but what set GTA III apart was that it was modern, and it let you perform crime fantasies. To critics, this was one of the first games to accurately portray the real world due to its attention to detail. All of the things I discussed earlier, the radio stations, the side missions, the characters, the cut scenes, the mini-games, the fake commercials, the exploration and discovery, all of it was new, exciting and unlike anything we had played before. It was truly revolutionary. Still, it didn’t get a perfect 100/100 on Metacritic, there were things to dislike about the game. For starters, despite being take out of the 2D realm and into the 3D one, the controls were still a little wonky. Walking/running felt very strange, with the less time spent doing it, the better. Combat was often confusing and frustrating due to poor aim assist, the graphics, while good for the era, were still not the best they could be, especially when compared to powerhouses like Ico and Gran Turismo 3, and, of course, there were critics who were wary of the games glorification of violence and criminal activity.

GameSpy, despite its 94/100 score, called the game “absolutely reprehensible” and awarded it Most Offensive Game of the Year, ultimately questioning its appropriateness in the video game industry. Walmart, the U.S.’s largest retailer, began carding people due to GTA III’s controversial content. Scholars bemoaned the lack of a true punishment for death or incarceration, as players would just respawn at the nearest hospital or police station, paying a small fine before going back out and doing the same evil stuff again. In Australia, the game was outright banned for its depiction of “sexual activities related to incentives and rewards”, prompting Rockstar to appeal the decision, which it would lose, forcing the company to remove the prostitution…activity from the game in that country. Over in the U.S., The National Organization for Women spoke out against the game due to its violence against women. In the aforementioned prostitution activity, players are able to hire a hooker, bring them to a secluded area, and have sex with them in their car. They pay a fee and in return their health is refilled, but, I don’t want to say savvy, but, um, unscrupulous players soon figured out that if you murdered the prostitute you could get your money back. It’s as psychotic as it sounds and is a dark mark on the game. Psychologist David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family, a man who would try to put the word kilographic into the lexicon (similar to pornographic, but with excessive murder vs. excessive sexuality), said that Grand Theft Auto III “…glamorizes antisocial and criminal activity…” and that “…the purpose of the game is to perpetrate crime“. Some game critics, as well as the Housers and Leslie Benzies, tried to defend the game and play up the satire angle. They tried to make the game as cartoonish as possible in order to force players not to take it all so seriously. Owen Good at Kotaku argued that the game doesn’t actually reward players for being proficient at crime. In fact, two of the three vehicle based games, taxi and firetruck, reward players for doing good deeds. However, all of these controversies pale in comparison to a real life tragedy, when in 2003, two teenage brothers shot and killed another boy and girl. In their defense they claimed that they were inspired by Grand Theft Auto III, and this was exactly what one of Rockstar’s most notorious critics had been waiting to hear, a lawyer named Jack Thompson.

While Thompson, who made a career suing media outlets that he deemed immoral and obscene, he is probably best known for his efforts to derail the video game industry, which he viewed as horrifically violent and dangerous to children. His feud with Rockstar was just beginning, and if this column runs long enough then we will likely see his name pop up more than a few times. Despite all of the controversy, or perhaps more likely BECAUSE of all the controversy, Grand Theft Auto III was an absolutely massive financial success for Rockstar and Take-Two. Players, like critics, were instantly drawn to all of the things the game had to offer including, yes, the ability to murder as many cops, prostitutes, gang members, and innocent bystanders as you want. GTA III would continue on the PS2, and eventually the Xbox, with Vice City and San Andreas, before moving to the Xbox 360 and PS3 with parts IV & V. A few spin-offs would come out, like Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, and Chinatown Wars, and we also can’t skip over the clones and copy cats. One of the first to carry the same style of gameplay was Mafia, although it was developed around the same time so it couldn’t copy everything, so most critics agree that Activision’s 2003 game True Crime: Streets of LA is the first true GTA III clone. Other games to follow suit included Saint’s Row and Crackdown, while almost every game franchise would start to pivot towards an open world structure. Many titles would borrow the mission structure of GTA III, like Assassin’s Creed, and Rockstar would use the same formula again on its titles Bully and Red Dead Redemption. Grand Theft Auto III would receive multiple accolades come award season, and wound up being called the best game of 2001 by just about every major gaming outlet. It has been noted as the singular game upon which much of our modern video game industry is built upon, and was called the most important game of the decade by GamesRadar+. Not only was it’s open world a big inspiration for many developers, but its acceptance of mature themes helped show that gamers, particularly those on consoles, not just PC, were getting older and ready to tackle more serious and mature subjects. It helped make games look like more than just a mass of pixels moving across a screen, shooting monsters, you could do something really real with them.

Currently, as of this writing, the only way to play the original version of GTA III is either with the original PS2 disc or through emulation. Rockstar recently announced that they were going to be releasing a remastered version of III, Vice City, and San Andreas for modern consoles and PC. This means that all previous digital versions of the games would be removed from the various online stores and marketplaces it was previously available on, with only the new version remaining. As I write this the game still has no release date, apart from the standard “2021”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it shadow dropped on the original game’s release date, Oct. 22nd.

For all its faults and flaws (the game looks and plays pretty awful compared to our modern standards), Grand Theft Auto III has left a long and lasting impression on video games. We can debate their work ethics, we can argue about its violent content, we can fight about its nihilism, but at the end of the day, many of the games we love now can trace their roots back to what DMA Design, Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, Dan & Sam Houser, Leslie Benzies, and countless other employees across all of these companies, did back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Raise a glass, folks, and congratulate Grand Theft Auto III on it’s 20 year anniversary.

Battlefield 3 (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Oct. 25th, 2011: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Paranormal Activity 3
Notable Album Release: Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

Well, here’s a military shooter; pretty neat, huh? Publisher EA and developer DICE were truly committed to making the best military shooter they possibly could and felt that their product was far superior to that other military shooter, Call of Duty. EA was convinced that they could overtake CoD, but despite a stupendous 15 million units sold, it still couldn’t match the 20 million copies that Modern Warfare 3 would sell after it released a couple weeks later. If you’re curious about the game, well, there’s not much to say. You’re in the military, you shoot some people, you have a contentious relationship with the government for just “doin’ yer fuckin’ job“, and that’s about it. Critics were mostly positive towards the game, however there was some issue with the graphics. Battlefield 3 was the first game to use the Frostbite 2 engine and, because of this, it had slew of glitches and bugs that critics didn’t like. They complained about the overly linear nature of the story, and bemoaned the generic and forgettable locations. The saving grace, still, was Battlefield 3’s multiplayer, which was praised for its multiple modes, high number of vehicles, and strong reward system. While the game is easily available on any Xbox console, there’s not much reason to pick it up. People are already moved on from the multiplayer, and the single player campaign is fucking atrocious, so there’s really no point. Why did I even talk about this game? I should go back to playing Grand Theft Auto III.

Police Quest 3: The Kindred (Genesis) – Released Oct. 1991: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Cool As IceStarring Vanilla Ice
Notable Album Release: Pennywise – Self-Titled

Out of the four pint & click adventure games from 1991 that I’ve played this year, you might be surprised to hear that Police Quest 3 is the least racist of the bunch, though not by much. After two successful entries in the Police Quest series, the game’s creator and designer, Jim Walls, a former CHP officer, was unceremoniously kicked off the project and left Sierra On-Line, the game’s developer. To help finish things up, Sierra brought in an up and coming designer, Jane Jensen, to finish the story and get Police Quest 3 over the finish line. In the game, players take on the role of Sonny Bonds, a newly promoted Sergeant in the Lytton police Department. The game is separated into multiple, consecutive days, with day 1 being a fairly routine day of giving people traffic tickets. By the end of the day, however, Sonny’s wife Marie is attacked by two men in a parking lot, who stab her and leave her for dead. When Sonny gets word that Marie has been hurt he rushes to her side and vows to catch the criminals who did it. What he ends up stumbling onto is more than he bargained for, and might just have something to do with the occult. Police Quest 3 was received fairly by critics, but it wasn’t a slam dunk. Their praise mostly stemmed from the fact that the series had finally ditched the cumbersome text entry and keyboard controls of the early Sierra adventure games. What they didn’t really care for were the long load times and poor controls when driving your vehicle around town. Yeah, while the majority of the game is point & click, you do spend more time than necessary driving around the streets of Lytton, going from location to location. This was done as copy protection, as the game came bundled with a map showing you where each major location was, which is kind of interesting, when it wasn’t tedious and frustrating. Since I played the game with a walkthrough I can’t really comment on the difficulty of the puzzles, but there are things that are just so esoteric and obtuse that you can’t help but wonder how in the hell they expected you to know to do a specific thing. I can only imagine how annoying it would be to have to keep driving around and around those stupid city streets, trying to figure out what to do next. If you want to play a game as a bastard, Police Quest 3 is easily available on PC through Steam or GOG. My face is kind of numb from this medication I’m taking. Going to stop writing now.

 


Once again, The Murder City Devils…

Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

If you like what I’m doing here consider supporting me on Patreon. You can also find me on Twitter and GG. I eat a lot of corndogs.