Police Quest III: The Kindred. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Jill Champion
Police Quest players of old, you're in for a real surprise. Gone are the days of a pixel-faced bobby scouring the streets of small-town Lytton for tattoo-bearing drug king-pins. Nothing is simple and everything is complicated about your surrogate life as the new Sonny Bonds, dashing young homicide detective turned sergeant.
Now a full-blown metropolis, Lytton offers the rewards and woes of any big-time city, a new ethnically mixed police department, and a hodgepodge of weirdos, traffic violators, and other major and minor offenders.
In the opening sequence, you meet the program's creator, retired California Highway Patrol officer Jim Walls, who charges you to look at this not as fun and games but as a learning experience, to see and live what a real cop's life is like. "Sonny's life is simple," he tells us, "but it's a good one--worth defending." That statement lays the groundwork for what's to come.
You begin what appears to be a routine day, having agreed to help out in traffic, which, Walls tells us tongue in cheek, always seems to be understaffed. You begin your average cop's day with a disciplinary complaint against Officer Pat Morales--Hispanic, female, and carrying a chip on her shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore.
Eventually comes patrol duty, bringing with it the usual number of metropolitan complaints, including a maniac taking off his clothes in the park. The nut ends up attacking you at one point, and if you aren't swift. Sonny bites the dust then and there.
Responding to an attempted murder while out on patrol, you discover a stabbing victim who turns out to be your beloved wife, Marie. Lying motionless and dead, she still grasps the gold chain she grabbed from her attacker's neck. Later you find a military bronze star at the crime scene, directly beneath your wife's car. Therein lies the mystery, and at that point, you're assigned homicide detective duty on your wife's case.
A series of fatal stabbings, rife with satanic undertones, linger unsolved in the city, and now with your wife as the latest victim, it's up to you to conduct a thorough investigation into the crimes. Homicide is run by Captain Tate, a Philip Michael Thomas look-alike minus the Italian designer duds, and your partner turns out to be none other than the hot-tempered Pat Morales, who promises she's "not so bad" once you get to know her.
The real challenge of this game is to use logic and insight to rule your actions. You have to use your best judgment (as a real cop would), follow procedure, and know when to call on your team members.
Amidst the darkness and apprehension, The Kindred isn't without humor--try walking into the women's locker room, and you'll get socked in the eye by a female cop--but mercifully minus the silly banter and comic relief of Police Quests past.
Also missing are type-in commands. Sierra's parserless interface allows you to move through a room quickly. Placing the hand icon on a doorknob walks the character to the door and opens the door. You're left to think about which course of action to take rather than ask a dozen questions. A look around with the eye icon explains everything you see, and "talking" with characters helps you gather pertinent information and clues you in on whether you're behaving correctly or wasting your time.
>From the time the credits roll to the cliff-hanger end, The Kindred delivers role-playing adventure you can feel. The characters and settings are as true to life as I've seen. It's obvious to me how carefully planned and well orchestrated the whole scenario is. Most notable in a long list of pluses here, Jan Hammer of "Miami Vice" fame sets a moody tone with a riveting musical score that enthralls and captivates and is, in a word, electrifying. It will make you tingle from head to toe. Indeed, you'll feel as though you're actually in Police Quest III, and that's the whole point, isn't it? Perhaps for those of us who would walk a desktop beat every day if we could, Sierra On-Line could continue the entertaining Sonny Bonds police mystery series.