This review is part of the “Let’s Adventure!” series. See all reviewed games sorted by rating here.
Police Quest 2 is a 1988 police procedural adventure video game developed and published by Jim Walls and Sierra On-Line. It is the second installment in the Police Quest series. The game continues the story of police officer Sonny Bonds as he attempts to apprehend an escaped convict.
This second installment in the Police Quest series focuses more on detective and forensics work than the traffic-cop beginning of the original, while keeping the same realistic setting. The proper procedures for collecting and handling evidence are the main focus of many of the puzzles in Police Quest II.
Though still a text-parser driven game, the SCI engine is used which makes for a much more visually impressive game. A lot has been improved over the original game (though I reviewed the remake), though being a “police procedure simulator” above all else, there is still a fair amount of backtracking and checking the manual.
I don’t miss copy protection in games
You’ll start the game off by having to look up a mugshot in the manual. I guess this is good because I will force you to take note of the various radio codes, vehicle codes and penal codes that you may need to reference later. Unlike the previous game you don’t really need to memorize these codes as you’ll be playing with a partner throughout. Keith provides you with a bit of comic relief, as well as interacting with dispatch.
I don’t remember having to manually provide any codes, but if you happen to need them, they’re all in the manual.
Though the manual gives you the map of Lytton that you needed for navigation in the first game, this time around you just need to type in where you want to drive and you’ll automatically go there. This is a huge improvement as you don’t need to waste time with the needless stopping/starting that was imposed on you in Police Quest 1 as you muddled your way from location to location.
You’ll also get updates from dispatch as you’re driving, which Keith will provide the narrative around. As he throws out various radio and vehicle codes you can just read along without having to worry about potentially throwing the wrong code out there.
Good ol’ fashioned Italian stereotypes
The game has you following Jesse Bains, who you locked up in the previous game but has escaped from prison. He breaks out of jail, kidnaps a guard and is trying to skip town, so you’re trailing him based on the clues you collect at the various locations he’s been spotted at. The focus in this game is on collecting evidence so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the field kit and its contents pretty early on.
Death waits for you at literally every turn
Since this is a Sierra On-Line game, expect to die … a lot. Just remember to cycle through about 5-6 save slots, saving as you enter each screen and you shouldn’t be caught off guard when (not if) you find yourself hitting a game over situation.
A big part of this game is your gun, which you have hotkeys available to “draw”, “holster” and “fire”. Since this is a parser-driven game you can also just type
DRAW GUN to perform this action, which is preferable in certain situations as the text prompt pauses the action on screen.
If your gun isn’t properly sighted, you’ll miss whenever you need to shoot something
The Police Quest games are all about proper police procedure, so before you can use your gun you need to make sure you hit the shooting range and adjust your elevation and windage. Basically, you aim at the center of the target, fire a couple times, view the target and
ADJUST GUN. Replace the target and repeat until you’re hitting what you’re aiming at.
At one point in the game you’ll spin out of the way of a shotgun firing through a door and slam your gun into the wall. This is meant to be a hint that you should go re-sight your gun as the next time you fire you’re likely going to miss.
Aside from your field kit (which contains a lot of different items you’ll need to collect evidence), there isn’t all that much inventory management in this game. Most of the stuff you pick up will either be evidence you can book back at the station, or a clue to the next location you may need to visit.
In Police Quest 1 you needed to pay really close attention to the penal codes being used when you’d bring in evidence or suspects. This time around you can just go up to the evidence window at the station and
Though most of the game is pretty linear and easy enough to identify what comes next, there is one sequence early on where you’ll need to dive underwater to look for evidence. It’s really important to check the tanks in the van before you head out as only one has enough oxygen to last the entire dive (hint: look for the one with 2200 “AIR”).
This is an interesting sequence that will require you to visit 3 underwater screens and find evidence at the bottom of the lake, as well as a body. It’s not obvious at first how you even need to initiate this sequence, but it’s something along the lines of Keith asking you what you want to do after Bains escapes at Cotton Cove, and you respond with
REQUEST DIVE(or something like that).
Unless you already know this is the next step to proceed with the story it’s pretty easy to get stuck here.
The story of Police Quest 2 is a lot more detailed than its predecessor. Bains is out to kill everyone involved in his arrest, including yourself and your girlfriend Marie. He’ll end up kidnapping her and taking her to Steelton, which you have to get approval to book a flight to. On that flight you’ll have to stop a hijacking and diffuse a bomb, which doesn’t end up being too difficult (read the instructions and just reverse the steps to disarm it).
Hopefully you’re smart enough to hide and return fire before Bains can silence you permanently
Once you make your way through the sewers of Steelton you’ll find Marie and rescue her. The death angel will try to take you out, but if you hid behind the pipe here and opened fire on Bains quickly enough, you should be able to stop him once and for all.
I’ve played through this game a number of times since I was a kid and it’s been in my top 10 Sierra games as a result. I didn’t find the police procedure focus to be as distracting as it is in Police Quest 1, and the story just seems a lot more solid.
The music in this game is also top notch. I finally got around to figuring out how to get Roland MT-32 working in ScummVM and can honestly say this makes the experience exponentially better. If you’ve never given the game’s intro a listen in MT-32 mode, go do that now!
Police Quest 2 has aged pretty well, which may be partly due to it being a text-parser driven game. The graphics are decent, the story is pretty good and though there’s limited background music, what you get to hear is also really well done.
This can be a challenging game if you’re not well versed in adventure games, but if you’ve never played it before I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot.
|Game||Police Quest II: The Vengeance|
|Release Date||November 1988|
|Systems||DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, NEC PC-9801|
|How Long To Beat?||5 hours|
|Version Played||DOS via ScummVM|
See here for a refresher on how we’re scoring these games.