The Police Quest series of games from Sierra really brought the tedium of by the books police work into full, living VGA 256 color. Today, I’m going to be talking about Police Quest 5: SWAT.
This FMV title starts with the player as a new recruit on the LAPD SWAT team. The game opens with some of the best hair that 1995 had to offer and, what every 12 year old on the family’s brand new Compaq wants to sit through, a painfully detailed briefing on professionalism and safety. You can skip it, but you’re going to be reprimanded by your superior officer for being impatient. I feel like the game is punishing me for wanting to get out there and
bathe the streets with the crimson blood of justice doing the best for my community and fellow officers.
Once freed from the “by the books” chit chat of Sgt. Hardon and Officer Jablowme, you’re headed off to the small arms course to hone your skills- and, with a little luck, be both the cause and solution of a tragic training accident. Control is pretty straight forward. Selection of your equipment is achieved through the dash board, and shooting is done with the sight cursor. After throwing a few rounds down the range, you can head to the combat practice range, the long rifle range to train as a sniper, or back to Metro to learn more about the art of paper work and trying to talk down hostages. The game has actual LAPD officers give interviews to talk about tactics and training, which a nice touch. Before long, the alarm goes off, and you’re headed off to your first call.
Each mission or “call” has a number of different ways it could go. For example, I dropped this 65 year old lady on the side of the house, in a bedroom, and in a bathtub. The ideal situation is for the call to end peacefully and without bloodshed. I don’t know what this lady had done, but during my initial approach, it was clear to me that we were dealing with an active shooter situation, and possibly a fugitive drug lord. Consequently, justice had to be metered out by the cold steel of my MP5.
I played through a few calls, and the game pretty much forces you to play it by the books or suffer the consequences of a briefing on proper use of force. That being said, it’s incredibly detailed and accurate- which is also can make it boring at times. Look, Captain… I signed up on the force to clean the streets an avenge the death of my partner- not to play by your rules. You keep trying to put me in a box… but that’s the problem… I don’t fit in your idea of what a good police is. So you take your tin badge and your piece, and you shove ’em up your ass for all I care. I hang it on the edge every goddamn day, because that’s where this battle is won or lost… not behind a desk, but out there on the streets. There’s no clear line anymore captain. It’s us, and it’s them. My partner knew that- and you did too, once.