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Blue Force 


Release date: 1993
Developer/publisher: Tsunami
Game language English
Boxshots

 

 

A review by slydos   18th August 2002

 

"Blue Force" is a 3rd-person point&click police adventure game by the maker of the first three Police Quest games. Jim Walls unpleasantly left Sierra and it seemed that he wanted to show it to his former employer with "Blue Force". Sierra however countered with "Police Quest 4 - Open Season" - by Daryl F. Gates and wasn't only in front because of the well-known series name. "Blue Force" is not a well known game under adventure gamers, probably not at last because of the small promotion by Tsunami, which was, by the way, created by former Sierra employees.

Prehistory

15th May 1984. We learn from the intro, that a business man with a document suit-case pushes a computer disk towards another man in a bar and then disappears. Thereupon the policemen John Ryan and Lyle Jamison arrive at the scene and want to speak with the man at the table, but he betakes himself to flight and disappears on a motorcycle. He loses the disk thereby, which John Ryan takes up. The two pursue the fleeing man, but he can escape.
19th May 1984. It is dark. A long haired man tampers with the window of a house and enters. Shortly after, we hear shots. It is the house of the Ryans and John and his wife were shot this evening. Only their son Jake survived.

Eleven years later Jake is taken up to the police academy and walks into the footsteps not only of his father, but also a number of further ancestors. The crime against his parents was never cleared up. Lyle Jamison, John Ryan's partner and best friend, was like a second father for Jake. He never gave up to look for the killer. When they wanted to force him to close the file he quit the police service and founded a private detective office. Jake was raised by his grandmother, Frannie Ryan, and Lyle always remained close to him. Lyle supports Jake to continue the family tradition and become a policeman.

Story

It is Jake's first day on the service. We accompany him into the police building and the game begins. Jake still hopes to find a trace of the murderer of his parents. We accompany the motorcycle policeman on his patrol, while he attends to his normal work and puts together the puzzle parts in his very own affair at the same time. Thereby you must, exactly as in the Police Quest games, observe police rules, enter police codes and conduct arrest procedures.

Installation

The game comes on ten 3,5"-disks together with a detailed manual in a well fed box. Two new patch disks are attached directly. Later also a CDROM version was released, containing an extra sound track, as far as I know. You have to select the installation program from the start disk, as usual with all other DOS games. Then you are led through the automatic installation procedure, which lets you at the same time select the sound card and the installation directory.

One needs 20 MB free hard disk space. "Blue Force" could be installed both under Windows 95 and under Windows XP without any problem. In addition there is a very rare but comfortable feature, as with other Tsunami games too, you can change the sound card during the game - fine! If one should possess the CD version, it is possible to play the game directly from that CD however the game cannot be saved then. The installation of the 10 disks needs approx. 10 minutes.

I had no problems at all to get the game running, but should however difficulties occur, then several chapters are located in the manual, which carry detailed and clear assistance, e.g. about DOS memory settings or sound cards or the production of a DOS start disk.

Handling

You play with the mouse but can in addition use some hotkeys (Help, Save, Restore, Restart, Pause, Sound, Exit). To accomplish one of the 4 possible actions such as a Walk, Look at, Speak or Take/Manipulate, you have to click the right mouse button and the action menu in form of a police badge appears. Here you can select the appropriate icon (the badge disappears then) and then use it at the screen with left-click.

There are no marked hotspots at the screen. One should look at everything very exactly with the eye-icon and also examine with the hand-icon. There are no areas and objects, to which one doesn't get at least one explanation - in each case in text form. In opposite to "modern" adventures in this game still the "mature" gamer is expected, who doesn't get served all hotspots bite-sized. Thus you get a quantity of object descriptions, even if these are not necessary for the progress of the game and on the other side you'll surely overlook the one or other game-important item.

The speak-icon invokes automatic dialogues. There are no multiple choice questions/answers. But one can start conversations using certain inventory objects, by selecting e.g. a document and applying it to a person. Sometimes you receives new information, if you use the speak-icon several times, sometimes however one sentence can be too much and means fast death. So even the dialogues show some freedom of selection. In the action menu there is another link to the main menu. Unfortunately one can save only 8 games. That's a bit few, since the game leads due to its non-linearity here and there into some dead ends, where you'll often miss the correct savegame.

The inventory is always visible at the bottom of the screen, shows only 4 objects simultaneously and can be scrolled with arrow keys (right beside it). If you've selected one of the inventory icons with left-click, you can use it either at the screen or click on the otherwise inactive question mark icon to receive a description. If it's a document, the contents is sometimes shown as short text, sometimes you get a readable picture of it. Inventory objects cannot be combined. We usually don't carry much objects with us so that the inventory doesn't become too complex. From the beginning we have our handcuffs and our weapon plus ammunition with us. It was a bit disturbing, that you don't know, which objects you have collected until you click the question mark icon.

The Possibility of moving between individual scenes is indicated by small arrows. If you leave one of the main locations, this happens by clicking on your vehicle, then you can use an aerial photo of Jackson Beach to reach the other scenes.

The gamer can comprehend the game progress by a point score located in the inventory bar. The handling is really simple, good and fast, nevertheless each possible action is described in the manual, sometimes even with examples. Here, and only here, also the numeric codes are printed, which one must use in communication over radio.

Graphics

While the backgrounds (VGA with 256 colors) are handdrawn, they'd used a video capture procedure for the character graphics, which produces a very lifelike effect. The real actors were very smoothly inserted into the environment, which succeeded amazingly perfect for the publication year. However they do not have the realism, as one can find it in "Police Quest 4". The portrait-video-cuts during dialogues are looking very good and also the intermediate video sequences have a good quality.

Sound/music

Unfortunately there are only sound effects and music, no spoken text - also with the CD version. The few music themes and sounds are average.

Puzzles

Altogether the puzzles have a middle degree of difficulty. It is particularly important, to carry out all police procedures, as arrests or questionings, according to the regulations, otherwise one can die easily. We must direct Jake to the correct places, let him speak with the correct people and naturally must also collect and use a set of objects. The puzzles are all together logical.

The game is only within limits linear and so the degree of difficulty is increased, because one can run into a dead end. However you then are always told, why. For example you cannot go on with the game, if you havn't perfectly eliminated your traces in a certain place, but you get to know about that only some time later by a telephone call. The non-linearity lets you solve puzzles in different order. However it can be that you must absolutely observe a certain order within a puzzle.

"Blue Force" shows some action scenes, is however free of action for the gamer, i.e. you don't have to prove your speed, aiming accuracy or reactivity. There are also no time-dependent sequences. One can die however by wrong actions or get dismissed from the police service and then must try again by savegame. Contrary to the early Police Quest games, our hero must not navigate his vehiclce on a city map. In "Blue Force" you travel comfortably by mouse-clicks from place to place.

Summary

Honestly said, it always surprised me, why there are not more police adventures made. This sub category contains finally the adventure genre's original characteristics: Examining, interrogating, collecting clues, drawing conclusions. One does exactly that in "Blue Force". Contrary to "Police Quest 4 - Open Season", you have a lot of freedom in how to approach the puzzles, because it is much less linear and, by the way, also no technical bugs show up. Who enjoyed playing the Sierra Police Quest series, will have fun with "Blue Force". The story is conclusive and offers many surprises. It is something for people, interested in original police work and also for gamers, who like adventures with real actors. Friends of particularly provocative puzzles or 1st-person-games lovers with emphasis on excellent graphics will be less satisfied here. Besides "Blue Force" with approx. 16 hours gameplay turns out a bit short. The game wasn't released in Germany and is one of the more rare US games, which one can find however here and there in online-auctions or through trading sites.

 

Total rating: 65%

Adventure-Archiv-rating system:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommendable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommendable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)

 

Minimal system requirements:

  • 386er and 100% compatible
  • 16 MHz or better
  • DOS 5.0
  • 640K, (590K free memory)
  • Mouse
  • VGA (256 Color) - MCGA not supported
  • supported:
    Roland MT-32/LAPC-1, Ad Lib, Sound Blaster,
    External General Midi

Played on:

  • Windows 95
  • PII 233 MHz
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 4 MB graphic card
  • 16bit sound card
  • 24x CDROM-drive
 

blueforcereview2.jpg (18532 Byte)


Die Vorgeschichte als Vidosequenz
The prehistory as video sequence

Jake's first day
Jake's first day

Morning briefing
Morning briefing

The badge offers access to the verb icons and the main menu
The badge offers access to the verb icons and the main menu

Jake's grandma is his own relative
Jake's grandma is his own relative

The main menu
The main menu

A bit of computer work
A bit of computer work

Starting the motor bike
Starting the motor bike

A most dangerous situation!
A most dangerous situation!

Some "deaths" later
Some "deaths" later

The map of Jacksonville
The map of Jacksonville

The marina
The marina

Dialogue partners are inserted
Dialogue partners are inserted

A bit of advertising for other Tsunami-games
A bit of advertising for other Tsunami-games

Jake remebers his childhood in black&white
Jake remebers his childhood in black&white

Interrogating witnesses
Interrogating witnesses

Important objects are shown in zoom-mode
Important objects are shown in zoom-mode

Near the hiding place of the gangsters
Near the hiding place of the gangsters

One of the many possible game-over screens
One of many possible game-over screens

 

 

 

 

Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 18th August 2002

 

 

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