The Intro

The Game

The Replay

The Verdict

The Intro

Title: Police Quest: Open Season (aka Police Quest 4)

Release year: 1993

Developed by: Sierra On-Line

Genre: Point-and-click

Platform replayed on: PC

Please note there are graphic images in this blog.

Ever wanted to live the life of an LA detective?

Okay, let me rephrase that. It’s easy to forget Police Quest: Open Season is a 30 year-old game.

So, overly wanted to live the life of an LA detective in the 90s?

Police Quest 4 interviewing locals
Doing the nonflexible yards on the streets of LA, circa early 90s

While Police Quest: Open Season (from here Police Quest 4) does bring the mundane procedural police activities to the fore (flashing the badge, writing reports), the specimen to solve is anything but routine.

Police Quest 4 thruway treason scene
Police Quest 4 drops you right in the middle of a murder.

You play as Detective John Carey, as he arrives on the scene of a recent homicide. But this won’t just be flipside day at the office for Carey.

The victim is a police officer.

He’s moreover Carey’s weightier friend.

Police Quest 4 photo of Carey and Hickman
A photo Carey (on the left) keeps of his buddy, Bob Hickman.

This one’s personal.

The Game

Police Quest 4 marked a transpiration in direction for the Sierra series. The first three Police Quest games were produced by former police officer Jim Walls, and followed the fictional vita of officer Sonny Bonds.

Police Quest 2
Police Quest 2 (1988)

Police Quest 4 took a turn towards realism under former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Daryl Gates. Realism came from scanned backgrounds from very locations virtually Los Angeles, with the full-motion video of actors on top. The CD-ROM version moreover featured voice acting.

Police Quest 4 conducting an interview
Conducting an interview

You tenancy Carey with a standard point-and-click set of commands: walk, talk to, squint at, use.

Police Quest 4 Carey at the Parker Center
Note the writ option buttons withal the marrow of the screen.

As a police officer, you’ll moreover have wangle to the standard tools of the trade.

Police Quest 4 inventory
All the essentials

You’ll moreover pick up items and vestige withal the way, which get widow to your inventory.

Police Quest 4 picking up inventory
Something looks out of place here…

Most of your time will be spent out and well-nigh Los Angeles, tracking lanugo leads, investigating treason scenes, and conducting interviews. New locations are uncovered as you progress through the case.

Police Quest 4 map of Los Angeles
Police Quest 4 takes you all over LA.

The specimen plays out over a number of days, with each day having unrepealable events that you must trigger in order to end that day and continue.

Police Quest 4 Parker Center
A new day dawns.

Simple to play. Will it be simple to solve?

It’s time to find out as I hit the streets of Los Angeles as Detective John Carey in Police Quest 4.

The Replay

Monday. 3:30 a.m. South Central Los Angeles.

A sufferer body.

Police Quest 4 Hickman's body
Bob Hickman. RIP.

You join Detective John Carey in an thruway overdue a convenience store as he arrives on the scene of the murder of his weightier friend, Bob Hickman. Police Quest 4 drops you straight into it, with real police work to do. There’s no time to mourn: there’s a scene to investigate, and locals to interview.

Observing the soul of Hickman, he’s just been laid out in the middle of the alley; there was no struggle to hibernate him.

The killer wanted Hickman to be found.

This opening scene in Police Quest 4 teaches you the importance of treason scene investigation. In particular, three deportment that you will need frequently: identify yourself when wanting to interview someone, handle vestige correctly, and take notes. You won’t be worldly-wise to well-constructed this opening investigation without these.

Police Quest 4 Carey taking notes at a treason scene
Trusty, standard issue LAPD notepad—don’t leave home without it.

There’s not much for Carey to get wrong here. Just talk to the locals on the scene, inspect the body, and make sure to note lanugo anything important.

Like what’s in the dumpster.

Police Quest 4 boy's soul in a dumpster
A gruesome discovery

It’s the soul of a young boy, shot multiple times. Increasingly questions than answers at this stage.

It’s time to throne when to Parker Center, (former) headquarters of the LAPD, while the Scientific Investigation Division (SID) finishes up with the scene, and the coroner gets the persons off to the morgue. You’ll trammels in with them later.

Police Quest 4 Parker Center
Parker Part-way at night

It’s at Parker Part-way where you lead Carey through the overdue the scenes wardship necessary for a good investigation. After Carey receives a quick motivational pep talk from the lieutenant to get out there and find the killer, he finds his desk, checks his memos, and gets to work on his report of the scene from a few hours earlier.

Police Quest 4 the lieutenant talking to Carey
No time off for Carey—he’s stuff told to get straight when out there!
Police Quest 4 Carey's desk
Sometimes, ya gotta ride a desk.

Carey moreover meets his desk-riding partner, Hal. He handles all Carey’s paperwork, but otherwise doesn’t do much else.

Police Quest 4 Carey and Hal
L.A.P.D. Homicide office

Enough paperwork, it was time to hit the streets!

If you’d like a quick view of the opening scenes in Police Quest 4, trammels out the video below:

Unfortunately for Carey, the media has unprotected wind of the murders already. A reporter is waiting outside Parker Part-way for Carey, and ambushes him. In what is a scripted moment, you can’t stave pushing your way through the reporter. It goes without saying that Carey quickly ends up on the news for the wrong reason.

Police Quest 4 Carey gets ambushed by a reporter
Right under the “National Police Week” banner, Carey assaults a reporter for blocking his way out.

While I don’t like the execution of this unpeace with the media scene (how was Carey not suspended or disciplined?), it increases the tension in Police Quest 4. The public is now taxing answers, and the brazen killing of a police officer and a young boy has heightened fear in the city.

Carey needs to deliver. But first, he’s moreover mourning his weightier friend. A friend who has left overdue a wife and young daughter. It’s time to pay them a visit.

Police Quest 4 Carey visits Hickman's wife and daughter
Why don’t you take a seat Carey? You’re making everyone uncomfortable…

Like the wrangling with the reporter, I found the personal story in Police Quest 4 quite awkward. I understand the motivations for including personal and professional pressures that police officers face, but the in-game execution felt pasted on. The interactions between Carey and Hickman’s wife are lacking in emotional weight. Carey scrutinizingly interviews Hickman’s wife instead of stuff a shoulder to cry on. They don’t hug. Carey himself is emotionless.

Police Quest 4 Carey receives Hickman's old unsurmountable vest
No hug, but Carey does get gifted Hickman’s unsurmountable vest.

After seeing Carey’s emotional side, you’ll be crying out to get when to the monotonous wandering virtually locations of interest, looking for leads. And there’s no shortage of that.

Police Quest 4 Carey visiting the 3rd Eye Theater
Another lead to squint up.

As I mentioned above, you need to trammels in with SID and the coroner to see what turned up at the treason scene and what the causes of death were.

Police Quest 4 Carey visiting the morgue
Serious talks at the morgue

It turns out Hickman was tortured and mutilated, with the official rationalization of death stuff poisoning. The young boy found in the dumpster died from the multiple gunshot wounds he took to the chest.

With two very variegated murders on his hands, Carey’s first question is whether or not they are related.

Was this a cop killing? Was it gang violence? Will there be more?

You don’t have to wait long for an answer, as Carey gets lured into coming when lanugo to the scene of the treason chasing a lead. He ends up in a gang ambush.

Police Quest 4 Carey gets ambushed
It’s time for the shotgun (and unsurmountable vest…).

So it looks like it was gang violence. And Carey moreover happened to interfere with an undercover unit that had been working the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, ending up in a firefight has squandered this unit’s cover, and Carey is in hot water with the lieutenant.

However, flipside soul has turned up. On the other side of town. And it’s a cop.

Police Quest 4 Carey show's up at the location of the second body
It’s only day two…

It’s going to be nonflexible to start pulling the strings together on this one, with a sufferer cop dumped outside a rapper’s mansion during a party the night before.

Police Quest 4 Carey speaking with rapper Yo Money
Carey speaking with rapper Yo Money and his girlfriend well-nigh the soul on the front lawn.

Police Quest 4 moreover throws a few red herrings your way, though the pace of the game is so quick that it quickly leaves them overdue surpassing you have an opportunity to seriously consider them. For example, given how Carey ended up in a gang shootout on day one, this quickly sealed lanugo the young boy’s murder investigation with an arrest. That’s one down. Flipside example was a white supremacist who had been harassing Yo Money and his girlfriend. This ends up stuff a lark for Carey, as this isn’t really his case, and it’s soon well-spoken the white supremacist and his girlfriend have nothing to do with the cop killings.

Police Quest 4 Carey at Dennis Walker's place
Watch your back, Carey.

The autopsy of the second police officer proves Carey now has a serial killer on the loose. The second soul has moreover been tortured, mutilated, and poisoned.

The public wants answers too. That reporter that Carey pushed? That incident made the news.

Police Quest 4 Carey at the convenience store
The infamous interview—you can see Carey on the news on the TV overdue the counter.

Over the undertow of the next couple of days, Carey has to juggle solving these murders as well as answering to the public.

Police Quest 4 Carey gets summoned to Municipality Hall
Soon Carey is summoned to Municipality Hall to wordplay the nonflexible questions.

In between, he moreover has to make sure he passes his shooting test.

Police Quest 4 Carey at the shooting range
You might be in the middle of a upper profile case, but there are still boxes to tick.

Oh, and three increasingly persons show up with the same MO.

It was time to rinse and repeat: canvas the scene, trammels in with your SID and coroner colleagues, and wait for the next soul to show up.

Police Quest 4 Hollywood and Vine
Multiple persons at Hollywood and Vine

I was getting a little over it all, as each day contains a unrepealable number of stock-still or triggered events. Tick all these off, and then suddenly you proceed to the next day. I found Police Quest 4 frustrating at times, as I was often left wandering virtually trying to find which item I’d missed picking up or which police procedure I’d forgotten to follow.

Police Quest 4 Carey in South Central LA
Wandering aimlessly

In the end, the specimen is over in four days. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I’m not going to go into detail of how Carey connects all the dots and ends up apprehending his killer. Though I don’t consider saying that much a spoiler. Surely it’s not much of a surprise this story ends with a solve and all the loose ends nicely tied up?

Police Quest 4 Carey in South Central LA
Tying up some loose ends.

Speaking of “loose ends” (if you know, you know), having tried to build up a by-the-book police procedural of a game experience, the ending throws this completely out the window. Even reaching the endgame in Police Quest 4 requires what I consider a considerable dose of “dumb luck”—I’ve finished this before, and I still needed it then this time.

Further, the showdown with the killer steers off into ridiculousness, with both Carey and the killer making inexplicable decisions.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get started.

The Verdict

First things first, let’s take a squint at the audio-visual side of Police Quest 4 and the gameplay. For a thirty-year-old game, I’m just going to say it, it hasn’t weather-beaten well. Having full-motion-videos of the actors might have looked impressive in 1993 (I can’t recall I was that impressed, probably meaning I wasn’t), but now it just looks very muddy.

Police Quest 4 Carey at Social Services
This is well-nigh as good as it gets for Carey.

With voice acting, I didn’t have a problem with its inclusion or execution—whenever this featured in a 90s game, it was an heady opportunity. However, the dialogue seemed to be driven by very stereotypical weft selections. Minorities, marginalised communities, and women suffered from unfortunate stereotypes. For example, there is the convenience store owner, Kim Chee (enough said). African-Americans are exaggerated in their use of vernacular language. And then we have the receptionist at the coroner’s office, who’s enthusiastic, but not too bright. Carey moreover awkwardly walks in on her and the coroner at one stage.

Police Quest 4 Carey walking in on the coroner and the receptionist
I can come when later…

With regard to gameplay, one speciality of point-and-click games I’ve never missed surpassing is having a periodical or quest log. But playing Police Quest 4, I really wish there was a record of the specimen progression. There’s a lot of information put to you (and with voice vicarial on, there are no subtitles), and no way of recalling it. Thankfully, Police Quest 4 doesn’t full-length unwinnable situations (where you failed to do something older in the game, preventing you from progressing later on). As such, you’ll never have to restart.

Initially, Police Quest 4 requires a procedural approach, where usually playing point-and-clicks requires outside-the-box thinking. As a police officer, you have to play it by the typesetting and follow standard procedure.

Police Quest 4 Carey at the Property Office
An example of standard procedure: dropping vestige at Property

However, as the game progressed, I found the story to be an uneven wastefulness between a personal drama and a mechanical police procedural. Police Quest 4 didn’t get this wastefulness right. The personal episodes you wits with Carey finger out of place and tacked on, having no tangible impact on the overall story arc. At the other end, having to manually pericope well-nigh a dozen bullets from a wall, or go through multiple rounds of shooting practice (when you never unquestionably need your sidearm), is increasingly than a bit tedious.

Police Quest 4 Carey extracting bullets from a wall
How many bullets can see that need extracting?

It’s like an episode of CSI: Treason Scene Investigation, or any mystery of the week drama. For a game trying to present itself as realism, Police Quest 4 does end up playing out overly dramatic and implausibly.

And the ending itself is the worst offender, which left me feeling that Police Quest 4 was all wink and no substance. It was a ridiculous ending, that made me finger as if all the nonflexible police work until that point had been a waste of time, as you just end up in an incredibly unlikely final showdown with the killer. A killer who moreover had two opportunities to skiver Carey and didn’t, with one of those situations stuff one Carey unbelievably puts himself into.

Police Quest 4 Carey knocked out
Carey’s lanugo and out. Now would be a good time to finish him off, just saying…

It tried to squint gritty and real, with shock-value themes. But in the end, I felt this unvarying disconnect between stuff a detective and stuff in a Hollywood blockbuster. Actually, a B movie at best.

Police Quest 4 ending
At least it’s a happy ending.

So, have you played Police Quest 4?

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And don’t forget to check blogs for increasingly content!

Police Quest 4 LA skyline
Case closed
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