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Community Playthrough #27: Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive

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Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the community playthrough of

An epic tale of crime, corruption, greed, love, betrayal and ... well I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you that haven’t played it before (and the box cover contains enough spoilers as it is), so lets just say that there is quite a few plot twists, and if good old Tex knew what he was getting himself into, then he would probably had run as fast as he could in the opposite direction, I know that I would Smile

I’m glad to see that many that didn’t vote for the game have decided to join us anyway, and I hope that the 1st person motion sickness doesn’t get too bad, for those of you that suffers from this.

Oh - and this is the first time I lead a CP, though I have been looking forward to leading a CP of this particular game for some time. Just be warned that I’m not an experienced playthrough leader, and that there are some challenges regarding how to play it in a CP. But more on this later. 

Technical Stuff

Before we can get to the interesting stuff then lets get the boring technical stuff out of the way first:

The game is a dos game, so if you have and are using the original CD’s then you will have to set it up with DosBox, a better or at least easier alternative is simple to buy the game at GOG (unfortunately not currently on sale), which will then automatically be installed with a preconfigured DosBox.

Personally I have never experienced any technical problems with the GOG version, this of course doesn’t mean that there can’t be any, so if you do encounter any problems please post it here, and I and I’m sure others will do what we can to help solve it.

You have a couple of days to get the game installed and tested, before I officially start the playthrough this Monday the 10th of March, though I can dealy it for a couple of days if you have trouble getting the game to work.I will in the meantime post more info about the game and my plans for this CP.

Please confirm when you have the game installed and are ready to go.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Background Story

The game takes place in the beautiful city of San Francisco in the year of 2043

In the post WWIII era

Where the radiation has caused a large part of the population to turn into horrible deformed mutants


(Nope - I’m nor kidding she really is a mutant!)

Whereas others are perfectly normal

Our hero is a classical gumshoe detective down us his luck, in the best tradition of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe

Nope - not that guy but this guy called Tex Murphy

The game is the 3rd part of a series of Tex Murphy games starting with Mean Streets, and hopefully not ending with The Tesla Effect, which will be released right in the middle of this CP.

Even though it is part of a series, then it is not a continued story and the game can be played without any prior knowledge of the series, but some of the characters are old friends of Tex and also appears in the previous games (well at least in UAKM I have never personally played Mean Streets or Martian Memorandum), so let me introduce you to some of the main characters.

(Descriptions and pictures shamelessly stolen from The Unofficial Tex Murphy Site)

“Chelsee Bando runs the Newsstand across the street from Tex’s office at the Ritz Hotel. Like everyone else in this part of town, Chelsee is a Mutant, but it doesn’t show. In fact, nobody knows what her mutation actually is. Chelsee has a way of turning Tex’s knees to jelly, and he’s been trying to get a date with her since their first inauspicious meeting. Working at the Newsstand keeps her up-to-date with all the current events of the city, both by reading the papers she sells, and by talking with the customers. Therefore, she knows more than most people about what goes on in the shadows of the city.”

Since her mutation doesn’t show, then I have always wondered

Nah… That can’t be it - Can it?

“Louie LaMintz is the owner/proprietor of the Brew & Stew cafe. He’s a bloated Mutant with a heart as big as his waistline. Louie is probably Tex’s best friend, if he has one, and is always willing to let Tex run up a tab of epic proportions. Everyone in the neighborhood comes to Louie’s cafe, where the smell of fresh-grilled brains, lamb stew, or spicy chili mixes with the pungent aroma of his infamous “Armageddon blend” coffee.”

“Rook Garner, owner of Rook’s Pawn Shop, is a crusty old WWIII vet with a mean streak longer than his lifeline—with a particularly antagonistic attitude towards Tex. Contrary to popular opinion, however, Rook isn’t a completely bitter, nasty, horrible little man. In fact, he’d be the first one to take you in on a cold night, feed you, clothe you, give you a place to sleep—and then demand that you pay him 200 bucks for the trouble.”

“Lieutenant Mac Malden is Tex’s link to the San Francisco Police Department. Mac is always reluctant to help, but then remembers how many times Tex has saved his butt by solving a big case for him—usually resulting in a promotion for Mac, and no credit whatsoever for Tex.”

“Formerly a chocoholic bum living in a dumpster behind Rook’s Pawn Shop, Clint is now a chocoholic bum with his own chocolate stand: The Cocoa Cabana. After the Cabana opens every day at 9:00, everything on the menu has been mysteriously eaten by around 10:30.”

“Tex Murphy is a mid-21st century P.I. who tries—with mixed results—to emulate the style and philosophy of the classic film noir detective. Tex is divorced, perpetually broke, cursed with inconsistant social skills, and is rapidly approaching the big 4-O with some premature wrinkles and a bad back—the result of smoking, drinking, a poor diet, and lack of exercise. Tex doesn’t fall into the typical “super hero” category, but usually manages to succeed despite his particular knack for getting into trouble and offending the wrong people.

In post-WWIII San Francisco, Tex is one of the people counted as a Norm—a person that has a natural immunity to post-war radiation. Most Norms live in New San Francisco, the area of the city that was rebuilt after the war, but Tex prefers to stay in Old San Francisco with the Mutants—the people who were altered by the radiation. Somehow, he feels more comfortable around those who have been shunned and rejected, but he tells his clients (the few that he manages to get) that he lives there because the rent is cheap.

Dressed in a well-tailored trenchcoat and a soft, felt fedora, Tex seems out of step with the 2040’s in which he lives. A man out of time. His only modern concession is the pair of comfy sneakers he wears in place of the traditional wing tips. Tex can handle the futuristic machinery and looks of his surroundings, but give him a glass of bourbon (neat) and a Lucky Strike, and he feels right at home.”

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Tex is installed and ready to go.

     
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I’ve got it installed. I went no farther than the opening screen and exited. Should we play through the introduction? I’m running Win7 64-bit so I’m a little concerned whether it will play properly.

     

For whom the games toll,
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Casual Game Developer List
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Nice introduction. I’m ready to go.
Having played it recently i’m going for a different ending.

     
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rtrooney - 08 March 2014 04:25 PM

I’ve got it installed. I went no farther than the opening screen and exited. Should we play through the introduction? I’m running Win7 64-bit so I’m a little concerned whether it will play properly.

Fell free to play through the introduction even though it is actually a large part of the first chapter, also make sure to walk around a bit and examine or pick up some objects. It is better to catch any problems now, than when the CP has officially started.

But I am also using Win7 64 bit myself, and I haven’t had any problems with the GOG distribution of the game, so I wouldn’t be too worried despite the problem Sefir mentioned.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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The Playthrough

Deciding on a schedule/plan for this community playthrough has given me a bit of a headache. The problem is that The Pandora Directive is a surprisingly large game that has no less then 9 chapters and the chapters also vary quite a bit in length. So if we played each chapter individually with the number of days usually given in the CP, then it would take forever before we finished it, increasing the risk of participants leaving the playthrough for various reason, like dying of old age, and make the members impatiently waiting for the next CP even more impatient.

So my original plan, when I first volunteered to lead this CP, was simply to divide the playthrough into 4 parts, with about 2 or 3 weeks for each part. But the more I have thought about it the more I dislike this idea. It would mean that we would play the game in very large chunks, and we would risk that the smaller less dramatic chapters would drown in the larger and more dramatic chapters, which I think would be a shame.

I have instead come up with a sort of compromise between the two ideas. We will play each chapter or day individually, but I will vary the number of days for each chapter depending on the length of the chapter, and especially the first short chapters will be play at a very high pace. I will then in return allow participants to fall behind on the fast played chapters, and instead add some extra time to key chapters, and make sure everybody has caught up before continuing further.

To summarise: You will only be given a few days to play chapter 1, a bit longer for chapter 2, and plenty of time for chapter 3 to allow everybody to catch up before starting chapter 4.

Also, please feel free to post you thoughts on any given chapter, even if you have fallen behind and we are currently on a later chapter.

The difficult setting

The Pandora Directive have two different difficult settings know as Entertainment and Game Player Mode. The difference is that on Entertainment mode you have access to a pretty good hint system, which is disabled at Game Player mode, you have the option of skipping all the isolated puzzles, whereas you have to solve them at GP mode, and some of these are actually quite hard, and finally there are a few extra puzzles in GP mode.

It is entirely up to your own preference which difficult level you choose to play it on. In fact for those of you that have never played TPD before, I will recommend that you play it on Entertainment mode. The puzzles you will miss only constitute a very small part of the game, and they are some of the most annoying and difficult puzzles in the game, so you won’t really be missing much, and the game is still a quite hard game with many challenging puzzles.

Also worth noticing, is that you can start the game on GP difficulty and then later switch to entertainment, but you can’t switch from E to GP. But the choice is entirely your own.

Multiple paths / endings

There are three different paths through the game, respectively know as Mission Street, Lombard Street and Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Boyscout Tex, Tex Murphy PI and Evil Tex), leading to 8 (7 unique) endings. Your path and ending is determined by the choices and dialogue options you choose through the game, where the more unselfish and “good” you play the more likely you are to end up on Mission Street, whereas the more of an egocentric jerk you play, the more likely you are to end up on Broken Dreams.

For those of you that have never played the game before, I recommend that you simply ignore this and just chose the options you fell are the right ones. This will most likely mean that you end up on Lombard Street, staying on Mission Street is actually quite difficult as there is very little room for mistakes before you get bumped to LS.

If you want to see the other endings once we are done, then I have a collection of savegames for all of the 8 endings, once again courtesy of the unofficial Tex site.

Personally I’m looking forward to acting like a real jerk and ending on BoBD, which I haven’t done before, and which surprisingly enough is something I usually find quite unnatural to do in games.

Non-linearity

Especially the first 5 chapters are relative non-linear where many “things” or objectives can either be completed immediately or can be delayed to a later chapter, and there are other objectives that will trigger a new day or chapter when completed.

In order to ensure that we are all on the same page and have played the same parts, then I will post the “action” that will trigger a new chapter, and I encourage you all to do as much as you can and complete as many objectives and puzzles, before triggering the next chapter.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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I watched the intro up to the point that I needed to do something. And then quit. Other than needing to this all over again there seem to be no problems with Win7/64.

Sorry Sephir.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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I’m still unsure whether I’ll be joining the playthrough (that’ll greatly depend on when the Tesla Effect beta is released – I don’t really want to be playing both games at the same time), but I’ve installed the game anyway.

In any case, I strongly recommend returning players try the darkest path. Mission Street (the good path) is almost identical to Lombard Street (the middle path) except for the end cutscene, but the Boulevard of Broken Dreams is significantly different throughout (not just the ending).

     

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Recently finished: Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (R) (4/5) | Detective Di (3.5/5) | Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations (R) (4.5/5) | Heaven’s Vault (3/5) | Ace Attorney: Justice For All (R) (3.5/5) | Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (R) (4.5/5) | Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space (R) (4.5/5) | The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker (abandoned) (2/5) | Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (3.5/5) | The Sexy Brutale (R) (4/5)

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Whilst I don’t think I’ll be playing with this particular play-through (work is keeping me exceptionally busy) I love the idea of it and will be checking in as and when I can. I’ve loved the Tex Games since playing MEAN STREETS on an old 386 computer back in the day.

At the time I was playing Pandora, I was also a huge X-Files fan and the two meshed nicely for me.

I hope everyone enjoys the time they spend with Tex and his friends over the next few weeks!

     
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Kurufinwe - 09 March 2014 06:57 AM

I’m still unsure whether I’ll be joining the playthrough (that’ll greatly depend on when the Tesla Effect beta is released – I don’t really want to be playing both games at the same time), but I’ve installed the game anyway.

In any case, I strongly recommend returning players try the darkest path. Mission Street (the good path) is almost identical to Lombard Street (the middle path) except for the end cutscene, but the Boulevard of Broken Dreams is significantly different throughout (not just the ending).

This is the one ending I’ve never tried for down the years as it seems so unlike Tex and I can’t bring myself to attempt it. I’m not sure I’ll be actually joining in the CPT (but I might as the game is installed!) as I know the game so well but I’ll certainly be following it.

     

Never cry for something that can’t cry for you.

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Jabod - 09 March 2014 08:48 AM

This is the one ending I’ve never tried for down the years as it seems so unlike Tex and I can’t bring myself to attempt it.

I’m sure we’ll discuss this in more detail over the course of the playthrough, but what I find so interesting about this path is precisely that it’s not unlike Tex at all. It’s a butterfly effect of sorts: Tex being slightly more aggressive/angry/sarcastic than usual (maybe he’s having a bad day) leads to different events which in turn affect his perspective on things. It’s really very cleverly done. You should definitely try that path at some point.

     

Currently playing:
Recently finished: Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (R) (4/5) | Detective Di (3.5/5) | Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations (R) (4.5/5) | Heaven’s Vault (3/5) | Ace Attorney: Justice For All (R) (3.5/5) | Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (R) (4.5/5) | Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space (R) (4.5/5) | The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker (abandoned) (2/5) | Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (3.5/5) | The Sexy Brutale (R) (4/5)

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Kurufinwe - 09 March 2014 06:57 AM

I’m still unsure whether I’ll be joining the playthrough (that’ll greatly depend on when the Tesla Effect beta is released – I don’t really want to be playing both games at the same time), but I’ve installed the game anyway.

In any case, I strongly recommend returning players try the darkest path. Mission Street (the good path) is almost identical to Lombard Street (the middle path) except for the end cutscene, but the Boulevard of Broken Dreams is significantly different throughout (not just the ending).

That’s my objective in this playthrough. I’ll be using the guide you provided in the other thread.
I think I’ll check out the “perfect” ending after.

     
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I re-played this not too long ago, and I have a lot on my plate, so I’ll probably skip, but I’m going to enjoy reading the comments here.

Although I always liked the humor of UAKM more, this is in some ways the best adventure game ever. The branching paths, the epic scope, the 3D exploration, the cast of characters… I can’t think of many games that did ANY of those things better, let alone all of them.

     
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A few tips and extra information for those of you that have never played this game before.

The Controls

There is not point denying it, the controls are somewhat awkward and the weakest point of this game. I actually don’t remember them as being awkward when it was originally released, but since then a standard for 3d games has emerged, and TPD doesn’t follow those.

You control Tex’s movement with the mouse, which in itself isn’t so bad once you get use to it, slightly more annoying is that you have to switch between movement mode and interaction mode to interact with items or charactesr. If for example you want to open a drawer you first have to walk to it, then switch to interaction mode and click on the drawer to open it.

Where it however gets really annoying is, that once you have opened the drawer, then you are not necessarily in a position to see or pick up the contents, and you might have to switch back to movement mode, reposition yourself, tilt your head down and switch back to interaction mode, before you can examine or pick up the content. Quite a few steps for something as simple as opening a drawer and picking up the content.

4 buttons that you will have to use quite a bit, is the up and down arrow to tilt your head/view up and down, and the left shift and ctrl to raise and lower your height, which is necessary in order to find some items or operate some controls.

Fortunately finding more or less hidden items is only a small part of the game, and once you get use to it, it actually isn’t as bad as it sounds.

On the positive side, the game has an excellent fast travel option, which you can even use to travel around Tex’s small apartment/office if you don’t feel like walking the few meters between his office and bedroom.

The Great PI in the Sky

It is possible to die in this game, which I think is only fair and adds to the experiance, as there are some people who would like nothing better than to get rid of Tex.

But don’t worry, the deaths never comes out of the blue, you will always have plenty of warning that you are now entering a dangerous situation where there is a risk of dying. But the game doesn’t autosaves or automatically restores you to right before you died, so remember to save often, and especially right before entering a dangerous situation.

Money

In the beginning of the game, Tex will get a nice stack of cash, but Tex is also a man with a lot of debt, and the stack isn’t quite high enough to cover his expenses. Fortunately there is a few sources of extra cash, often just lying around in odd places, most of these accessible right from the start of the game, so make sure to explore a bit and find this extra cash.

In the worst case, you can always convert some of your points for extra cash.

Points

There is also a point system in the game, your score however have absolutely no influence on your path or the ending you will get. It is just a score that you can choose to completely ignore.

If you fell like bragging about how high your score is, then fell free to post it, but it is not a competition and there is no price for the highest score.


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For those of you that haven’t done already, please confirm that you have installed the game and are ready to go. The playthrough will start tomorrow evening (CET)

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Got the gog version installed.
Does anyone else get all that background noise when Tex is talking? Not during movies, but when clicking on stuff. I fiddled a bit with the mixer settings in the dosbox config file and it improved a little, but it’s still there.

     

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