The Pandora Directive

From Access Software

Brief game description

You play Tex Murphy, a detective in the year 2043. The case brought to you seems simple enough, someone wants you to track down an old friend of his. But life is never quite that simple for Tex.

Classifying this game isn't simple. It's an interactive movie or adventure game with a virtual reality engine. The virtual reality engine means that you get far more control over what the character can do then in most games. It can also lead to more deaths, as you try to successfully steer Tex past obstacles or towards a villain with a gun.

They have taken much more trouble than in the first game with the acting. Gone is the really cheesy stuff, this is a much more serious style. Though some of Tex's lines are just as funny as before.

Game play and hints

The basic game play is much like Under a Killing Moon. The primary differences with this game are there are two levels of play and there are multiple endings. The two levels of play are entertainment and game players. The second is the serious level of game play where hints are not available, also there are more locations and puzzles to solve. The game itself suggests that you play it at least once on the entertainment level.

You can also have Tex be nice if somewhat naive, neutral or a tough guy who only cares about himself. The last is not really something that I care to do, it doesn't seem right after Under a Killing Moon to have a deliberately nasty hard-boiled Tex. One ending is based on the neutral Tex, 2 endings are possible if Tex is a really nice guy and 4 endings are possible if Tex is only looking out for himself.

You will have to get well acquainted with controlling Tex in the game. As in the previous game, there are times when timing is critical. Handy hints, when just about to use dynamite to open a door, you may want to save. It took me six tries to get out of the room fast enough without hitting laser beams that cause instant death.

Gripes about the game

They've done something to the way the game demands memory. I can run Under a Killing Moon with no trouble on my current system. When I start Pandora, it complains about too little memory. Sixteen Meg should not be too little, and it thinks there is less than 5 meg available for the game. They have made a boot disk utility for the program, but it shouldn't be necessary. The boot disk did make the difference though. I can now run the game with all the effects.

Given exactly how Murphy phrases things may have some effect on the end of the game, the brief descriptions can be too little. I've at least once used something that sounded a lot nastier than I intended, just because the little phrase didn't sound that bad.

This game has a major - you must find multiple items in separate places, solve a couple of things and there is a *time limit* - puzzle. This is just about enough to put me completely off this game. Timing puzzles can be bad enough, but if you fail to solve this, you die. I hate that.

Warning, this game has six CDs. You may find yourself swapping CDs frequently at certain points during the game. Especially when you're wandering around looking for your next clue. Interviews are spread over several of the CDs. Given the flexibility built into the game, it is inevitable that CD swapping is necessary. The game isn't linear in design, which has its advantages and this main disadvantage.

The company uses a loose definition of the word 'Starring'. Maybe I've been spoilt by other games which use starring to mean the actor with whom you will be spending most of your time. Toonstruck (Christopher Lloyd), Mummy (Malcolm McDowell), and Frankenstein (Tim Curry) accurately identify those actors you can't get away from in the game. Barry Corbain only had a few scenes, and while they are very well done, to say he 'stars' in the game is a bit much. Chris Jones is the only star in the game. There are many other characters, most of whom you spend very little time with. You will spend lots of time with Jones.


A worthy successor to Under a Killing Moon. If you liked the first, the second should also be a must play game.

No pixel hunts that I noticed but sometimes clues to puzzles are obscure, to say the least, and there are several timing puzzles, at least two of which are deadly.

Some final thoughts on the game.

No PI in the Sky. I deeply miss that part. Then again, it may just be that I like to listen to James Earl Jones and would probably be happy to hear him read the telephone directory. The substitute scene is interesting *once* but takes far too long for me.