After Grim Fandango, this is my favorite. It's not easy, it's not short, it has 7 or 9 different outcomes depending on your candor and choices, it has Barry Corbin... It has fmv, interactive puzzles, some action, a great story that includes alien landings, it's set in the near future... I don't know what anyone else would want out of a game. Oh, and it also has one of THE best travel devices ever: if you have already been to a location, just call it up on your map and click. Beautiful. I'm not a great, technical reviewer but I have played well over 100 adventure games and I know what sucks and what's great. An overall 7.5 does not do this game justice.
If you can get it to work on your computer you will be richly rewarded.
30 to 60 Minutes
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
This is my second attempt at reviewing a game which is over 6 years old but since it is such a quality often overlooked game I wil try.
You play Tex Murphy a burbon swilling, ciggerette smoking, smartass PI just trying to scrape a living doing what you love. What you love is being a Private Eye and scraping a living at it seems quite tricky.
You start out trying to find the friend of a missing scientist and events quicly build from there. You wander around 3D world with the aid of your mouse and keyboard looking for clues and talking to people. I have to remind you that this is a 6 year old game so the 3D is far from cutting edge. In fact it does not make use of video card accelleration at all. Even with this in mind the game looks suprisingly good.
Where this game really shines is in the story and the dialog. It just oozes personality and builds on the previous world. The innovation in this game is that the responses that you give during the FMV conversations with people actually have an effect on the story. They are not just funny derivations in a branching dialog tree. In fact there are 7 different endings to this game which are completely dependent on how you play the game.
There are a couple negatives though. Some of the puzzels are somewhat obscure. In fact you can only progress in the plot if you head back to a certian area for no reason which in turn triggers a cutscene. These problems are lessoned because the game has a hint system which you can refer to whenever you are having trouble.
Although probably the toughest mystery you will have to deal with is getting it working on modern machines. There are a couple ways that work. First and most flawlessly is running dosbox using full dos and soundcard emulation. You need quite a high end PC to run this though. Your second option is to use VDMsound to emulate older soundcards although you will not get the quality you would with dosbox.
The acting in this game is generally good. There are a few places where you will be really impressed and also covering your face at the quality of the acting. In general the acting has improved over the previous installment of the game. They pull off a campy yet serious atmosphere within the game which suits it very well.
If you can find the game it is definetally worth playing. This is a meticulusly crafted story which will have you on the edge of your seat for much of the game.
Simply one of the greatest games ever made.
100 or More Hours
The Bottom Line:
In 1995, I was introduced to Tex Murphy in Under a Killing Moon. Once my family got its first Pentium computer the game was installed and I loved it. So much so, that when I heard that a sequel was coming out I rushed to the store to get it as soon as I could. Even twelve years later, The Pandora Directive ranks as one of my top games of all time. Along with Half-Life 2 and Knights of the Old Republic it makes my top 3.
The Pandora Directive was released at a time when the adventure game was more popular than it was today. But while many were sticking with the tried and true 3rd person point-and-click adventure, Access Software tried something completely different, first with Under a Killing Moon, and then with The Pandora Directive and its sequel, Overseer. The Pandora Directive is described as an "interactive movie". It uses FMV for its cutscenes, and the gameplay takes place in a fully 3D environment.
Don't let the FMV scare you. The level of acting in The Pandora Directive is probably some of, if not the best in video games. Whether its the well-known actors like Barry Corbin, Kevin McCarthy, or Tanya Roberts, some of the lesser-known actors like Suzanne Barnes or John Agar, or even those whose acting experience is limited to this game and its predecessor like Chris Jones or Doug Vandegrift there are few moments when the characters are anything less than believable. Chris Jones is especially amazing as the main character Tex Murphy. Co-creator of Tex Murphy, and former president of the now non-existent Access Software, he had no real acting experience prior to Under a Killing Moon. Despite that he brings a personality to Tex that makes him one of the best video game characters ever conceived.
The Pandora Directive's story is inspired by the supposed Roswell incident of 1947. With The X-Files at the peak of its popularity in 1996, Roswell and aliens were common themes at the time. Though the story sounds a bit too cliche, its actually so much more than just Roswell. The game starts with Tex hired by Gordon Fitzpatrick (played by Kevin McCarthy) to find a missing friend (Thomas Malloy, played by the late John Agar). Through the game, Tex crosses paths with a dangerous serial killer, a deranged NSA agent (played by Barry Corbin), and even a quirky conspiracy theorist. If you're worried that the game sounds too much like so many other Roswell stories, without giving too much away, I have to say its not. The game deals more with the morality and danger of using the alien technology and involves trying to discover the secret that Thomas Malloy went into hiding to protect. No time is really devoted to attempting to uncover the truth about Roswell. In fact, when it's first mentioned its truth is fully revealed.
Finally, we come to the gameplay. Like most adventure games, The Pandora Directive uses inventory-based and conversation-based puzzles to move the game forward. However, unlike some games where many of these puzzles are contrived, The Pandora Directive succeeds at tying the majority of them in nicely with the actual story. Many involve the search for clues that will help you progress through the game. Some clues are items, like a scarf with a unique perfume or an address found on a piece of paper. Others are found by questioning the characters in the game. One of the great things about the game, is that even though some characters don't have anything important to say about certain people or objects you can still question them about it and their responses are frequently worth hearing.
The game also uses some logic-based puzzles. While some are challenging, the game has a full hint system which lists every necessary action in the game. The logic-based puzzles are even skippable by entering a secret by-pass code found in the hint system. The game gives you points for completing most necessary, and many optional actions, however using the hint system will deduct from your overall score.
Where The Pandora Directive really shines in the gameplay department is its replayability. It was one of the first games to have multiple endings. You can play through the game as the good-guy and finally get together with the series main love interest, Chelsee Bando, be an immoral man who burns his bridges and sides with the enemy, or be something somewhere in between. The choice is yours. Because it was an early attempt at multiple paths through the game, the actions you need to take to go down the good or bad path are a bit restrictive, but if you're having difficulty, a quick look at a walkthrough should help. Each of the different paths not only yield up to 7 different endings, but many of the cutscenes throughout the rest of the game will differ as well making each path unique in its own way. Even some segments of gameplay will differ between the different paths. This really adds a rare type of replayability not seen in many adventure games.
To add to the replayability are the two difficulty modes. Entertainment allows you to use hints and has fewer challenging puzzles. Game Players doesn't allow hints, but adds some more puzzles and locations for you to play. Both levels have points, with a total of 1500 on Entertainment, and 4000 on Game Players. Many of these extra points are rewards for finishing logic-based puzzles within certain constraints (either time limits or number of moves). Its important to note that these constraints are not strict. If you fail to finish the puzzle within them, its not game over, you just don't get the bonus points. Getting all the points in the game doesn't mean just finishing the game by completing all the necessary actions. There are plenty of optional elements to the gameplay which further enhance the replayability. Some puzzles and locations are entirely optional and you could technically go through the whole game without bothering with them.
As a final note, I want to say that many of the cutscenes in the game are extraordinarily well-done. Some are action-packed, some emotional, and others downright funny, and they really add to the experience that is The Pandora Directive. The score composed for the game is great, and the song written for the end credits by Blues musician Richie Havens fits the tone of the game perfectly.
Though The Pandora Directive is a DOS-based game, it can be run well on modern machines using DOSBox. With a total of six discs, I recommend using one of the many free programs out there to make disc images and have DOSBox mount them to six separate drives. The Pandora Directive can be fully configured so that it looks for each disc in a different drive. Probably the biggest problem with the game is the cumbersome disc-swapping, but thankfully modern PCs have ways to eliminate it.
If you can still find this game, I highly recommend getting it. If you already own it and haven't played it in years, then isn't it about time you give it another go?
Gamespot rating is awfull.
40 to 100 Hours
The Bottom Line:
I havent play an adventure game since 2000 but in the 90s it was my main computer entertainment. i must have played aproxymately 80 adventure games including the monkey island series, space quest, larry,legend of kyrandia,day of the tentacle many many excellent games like The Dig, full throttle phantasmagoria etc. Among all these in my mind the Pandora Directive is at the top. the best adventure i ve ever played and one of the greatest experiences i had in non real life.
The reason i m writing this article is that i felt like playing an adventure game again and i thought that since i dont know whats happening in the adventure world the last 10 years it would be a good idea to see the gamespot ratings about adventure games and choose which game would be the proper to make a new start. Taking the list from top to bottom i saw high ratings for games that i expected to be so high like grim fandago and full throttle, but it surprised me that among the first wasnt the game i always believed that it would be considered the best so i thought that maybe it was too old and gamespot didnt even exist that time. it was a great surprise and dissapointment for me when i turned to the second page and saw that it is rated as 7.3 among mediocre games like The Experiment which i tried to play and it was awfull.
This game had everything. Great graphics for its time. amasing complex story, great acting, HUMOR (you mindless critics that praise no-brain action games like Prototype for a recent example), good puzzles and walkthrough system, atmosphere and was generally it was a great innovation for its time.
I feel offenced by gamespot's rating and besides that i now think that being advised by gamespot ratings isnt a very good idea for finding a good adventure game to play. what happened to Pandora Directive may have happened to other games so there maybe are out there some very good games that gamespot burried with low scores so i wont bother look their scores. i ll try to find a site with critics that still use their brain....
Sorry for my english i m from Greece.
FMV Fans Only
40 to 100 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Best in series"
You have to be a real actor FMV game fan to give a real review of any real actor game, so many FMV games are just so bad they should be destroyed on site, but in this case Tex Murphy games are so different great movie feeling bigger budget than your other crappy real actor games Pandora Directive is a classic in it"s own right not to be missed by any Real actor pc game fan, you will instantly like the hero that is Tex Murphy you can relate to him in so many ways, plus the story is Pandora Directive is amazing and so is all the FMV cut scenes. This is a must in any Real actor pc games collection, also Tex Murphy has such a true and huge following the only FMV game to still get talked about to day and is available at GOG good old gaming for the classic gamers. It is also fair to say that Tex Murphy is the best of all FMV Real actor pc games.