A little over a year ago, indie Irish developer Straandlooper launched a new adventure series on the iPhone called Hector: Badge of Carnage. Later ported to PC, the game was fun and well written, if short and incredibly raunchy in subject matter. One of the few downsides of the game was that We Negotiate with Terrorists was only episode one of three, leaving the "fat arse of the law" Detective Inspector Hector in mortal danger as the credits rolled. It’s been a long time to wait to see if the unpleasant but oddly likable Hector is able to escape the death trap we left him in, but fortunately the second episode, Senseless Acts of Justice, has finally arrived. The design and style have changed very little, but that’s a good thing as the first Hector episode was as entertaining as it was crude. Unless your senses are still reeling from the filth of the first game, you’ll find this sequel a worthy continuation. And if you don’t have an iPhone, fear not, as this episode has been released simultaneously on PC, Mac, and iOS platforms.
The second game begins right where the last one left off. Hector is staring death in the face, in the form of a morality terrorist’s sniper rifle. This scenario is used as a tutorial and the humor starts right away, with Hector loudly objecting to what the instructions ask you to put him through. After escaping certain death, Hector is still trapped in a condemned building with only his wits and his hapless partner Lambert to help him find a way out. The first episode of Hector required our hero to satisfy three unusual demands, in no particular order. This episode follows the same “rule of three”, as Hector needs three things to escape the building. Not all of these are to be found inside the building, so Hector is forced to work cooperatively with Lambert in order to find all three ingredients to whip up a batch of explosive freedom. In the process, Hector recovers several clues from the scene and vows to follow these leads right back to the mysterious villain who has forced so many indignities upon him. This entails more than simple legwork, of course, as Hector will have to do everything from bluffing his way into a seedy nightclub’s VIP lounge to arranging a date with a randy gun store clerk in order to find the answers he’s looking for.
The game’s interface on the PC is very simple, likely because it needs to work with the one-button Mac mouse and the touchscreen iOS interface. In short, the left mouse button is all you’ll need. Each screen has a number of hotspots that Hector can interact with or examine. The tutorial says that by holding the left mouse button down and scrolling around the screen, you’ll be able to see hotspots as you pass over them. This is odd advice, as you can scroll around the screen without the button pressed and the hotspots show up just fine. Likely this is how you’d see hotspots in the iPhone and iPad versions (by holding your finger down on the screen) but it seems strange to include such an unnecessary instruction in the PC version. There’s no hotspot finder that some adventure games offer these days, but to its credit Hector doesn’t really need one. There aren’t an excessive number of hotspots and the graphics usually make finding the key hotspots quite easy, at least on the large screen of a PC.
Left-clicking once on any hotspot will prompt Hector to comment on it, often with negative and/or foul verbiage. Double-clicking on it prompts him to manipulate, pick up, or talk to whatever it is you’re clicking on, depending on the context. The only annoyance with this system is that not every hotspot can be interacted with; some can only be examined, but there’s no way to tell except by double-clicking and seeing if Hector will do something or simply repeat whatever observational commentary you’ve likely just listened to. It’s a fairly minor irritation, as dialogue can easily be skipped by clicking the button once more, but it remains a sloppy aspect of the one-button interface. If Hector picks an item up, you can interact with it via the inventory bar at the bottom of the screen. Here double-clicking the object will examine it, while single-clicking will select the object for use. Clicking a hotspot in the environment, or on another inventory item, will cause Hector to attempt to use the object in that way. Try not to make too many mistakes experimenting with combinations though, as Hector has only a handful of stock phrases for incorrect attempts. It gets somewhat old the fifth time he’s called you an idiot in the same tone of voice.
Hector’s visual style evokes memories of older hand-drawn games like The Curse of Monkey Island, only far, far grungier. The cartoonish style perfectly fits the bizarre and over-the-top setting of the series. After all, things like police officers getting their heads blown clean off by a sniper and beauty parlors that double as gun stores simply wouldn’t be funny if they were realistically portrayed. The town Hector protects, Clappers Wreake, is a place so filthy that even the nuns moonlight as pole dancers, and the graphics reflect this by making everything feel like it has an extra coat of grime. Even the posh restaurant you visit feels dirty, displaying revolting hygienic practices that by this point feel completely unsurprising. The overall look is of an inexpensive but well-conceived cartoon, though not one you’d want your kids watching on Saturday mornings.Continued on the next page...