Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel

Released: 1987
Published by: Sierra Online, Inc.
Developed by: Sierra Online, Inc.
Author(s): Jim Walls, Al Lowe, Greg Rowland, Ken Williams, Scott Murphy, Mark Crowe, Gerald Moore, Robert Eric Heitman, Chris Iden, Jeff Stephenson.

                             
EGA 16-colour graphics

                   
CGA 4-colour graphics

Introduction

Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel is set in the fictional town of Lytton, California. The player character is Sonny Bonds, a seasoned officer with the Lytton Police Department. The exact date it takes place is unclear, though dates mentioned in the game range between 1983 and 1986. The game is the most serious/realistic of those developed by Sierra in the late eighties (when compared to Leisure Suit Larry, King's Quest, or Space Quest), and featured many puzzles where proper police procedure is required to succeed.

The original Police Quest game was released in 1987 and uses Sierra's Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI). In 1992, they remastered Police Quest 1 to feature 256-colour VGA graphics, better audio support and ran using the new Sierra Creative Interpreter (SCI) v1.1 with its icon/mouse-driven interface.

System Requirements

System Requirements Original AGI Release:
8088/8086 CPU, 256 KB RAM.
Graphics support for Tandy/PCjr, Hercules, CGA, and EGA (max. 320 x 200 resolution in 16 colours).
Audio support for PC Speaker and Tandy/PCjr only. *An unofficial "experimental" patch allows 3-voice music to be played from an MPU-401 interface*
No mouse support.
1992 SCI Release:
80286 CPU, 640 KB RAM (1 MB recommended).
Graphics support for VGA only.
Audio support for PC Speaker, Ad Lib, Sound Blaster and Roland MT-32.
Mouse supported (and recommended).
Original Media Original AGI Release:
Three 5.25" 360 KB (DS/DD) floppy disks and two 3.5" 720 KB (DD) floppy disks - the game shipped with copies on both floppy formats for convenience.
1992 SCI Release:
Installed Size 1 MB (original)

 

Copy Protection

Police Quest was the first game they released on the DOS platform without copy protection. At the time, insiders stated that "it would serve as a test for future Sierra releases". Despite not having copy protection, you will still need to refer to the manual to progress through the game, as it contains police codes that are crucial to solving certain puzzles.

 

Game Audio/Video


PC Speaker Intro 
Tandy 1000 (emulated) Intro 
AGIMIDI* 3-voice Intro 
*AGIMIDI is after patching the PC speaker driver using the AGIMIDI utility to produce 3-voice sound. This output was recorded using an Orpheus 1 sound card with DreamBlaster X2 daughterboard fitted.

 

How to Setup

The game can be installed to your hard disk or run from the original floppy disks.
There is no configuration utility apart from a batch file that can be used to install the game from floppy to hard disk. To run this, insert Disk 1 and run:

INSTALLH C:

Then follow the instructions. By default the game will be installed to C:\SIERRA\PQ
There are some command-line options to force the graphics mode. Simple run SIERRA.COM with:

  • -c Forces CGA Composite colour mode
  • -r Forces CGA RGB colour mode
  • -h Forces Hercules (HGC) mono mode for TTL monitors
  • -e Forces EGA mode
  • -t Forces Tandy 1000 graphics and/or sound
  • -p Forces "PC" mode (assumed to tell it you're running a PC not a PCjr or Tandy)
  • -s An unknown flag - not sure what this does
Andy's Recommended Setup
"Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel has very low system requirements, and given that early Sierra games don't run well on faster PCs, I would recommend running a decent period-correct system. I played the game through to the end on a 386DX-33 with 8 MB of memory (I know, not really period correct!), but it worked just fine without any timing glitches. You can run it on an XT or 286 too, and then just use the speed menu to adjust your walking speed to suit. Any EGA or VGA graphics card is good - the game will run at a maximum resolution of 320x200 in 16 colours. Audio is where you may find the game slightly jarring, as only PC speaker or Tandy options were available. AGIMIDI does work, but it's not great sounding, so I would get your late 80s rose-tinted glasses on and stick to PC speaker for the full effect that Sierra were going for."

My version of this game has AGI interpreter version 2.917 (the most up-to-date interpreter released for this game), and by default it runs in EGA graphics mode. Running with the -c option worked well. -h wasn't tested as it requires a TTL (digital signal) monitor. -v I hoped would work but displayed corrupted EGA graphics.

The game doesn't require any extended memory (XMS) or expanded memory (EMS) drivers to be loaded.

 

Problems

Symptoms: Playing the VGA remake, the message "Unable to initialize your audio hardware" appears.
Cause: As with most Sierra adventure games, they are very speed-sensitive. When the game is first started, the audio hardware detection does not give sufficient time to complete when run on faster PCs. It is likely you are trying to run the game on a PC that is too fast. Check the minimum system requirements at the top of this page to confirm.
Resolution: If you are running on a 386 or 486, trying disabling the L1 or L2 cache(s) and try again, or use slowdown utilities like Mo'Slo. There is also an audio driver patch called GOSiERRA. This patches the AUDBLAST.DRV and SNDBLAST.DRV files to allow them to work with Pentium II-class computers and higher. View the readme file for instructions.

Symptoms: The game runs too fast.
Cause: As with most Sierra adventure games, they are very speed-sensitive. It is likely you are trying to run the game on a PC that is too fast. Check the minimum system requirements at the top of this page to confirm.
Resolution: If you are running on a 386 or 486, trying disabling the L1 or L2 cache(s) and try again, or use Mo'Slo or equivalent to slow down your PC by introducing wait states. Also make use of the in-game speed control either by going to the menu by pressing ESC and moving to 'Speed' and choosing 'Slow', or type in the word 'slow' and hit Enter.

 

Keys

Moving Your Character
Use the arrow keys, the numeric keypad or by clicking the left mouse button.

Moving While on the Map Screen
Use the arrow keys including the diagonal direction keys (use F6 Normal speed when parking!)

Using Your Weapon
F6 = Load weapon
F8 = Draw weapon
F10 = Fire weapon / Use Nightstick

Game Speed Control
Use the Speed menu to adjust game speed. When driving you can use:

F6: Normal speed
F8: Fast speed
F10: Emergencies

Shortcuts

F1 = Help                
F2 = Toggle sound   
F3 = Repeat previous command
F4 = Enter/exit car (or toggle map view)
F5 = Save game
F7 = Restore saved game
F9 = Restart game from beginning
Tab = Inventory
Esc = Show menu bar/Pause game
Ctrl-C = Cancel typed command
Ctrl-I = Inventory
Ctrl-P = Pause game
Ctrl-Q = Quit game
Ctrl-V = Change volume


To Quit the Game

Press ALT-Z in-game and hit Return to go to DOS.


Supporting Documents

Here are the original documents that came in the game box:

And other documents that may be of interest:


Save Games

Save game files are stored where you decide after hitting F5 while in the game. By default the game directory is chosen for save game files, and you have 12 available 'slots' into which you can store your save game but you can enter a short text description for each one.

In the original releases, each save game 'slot' is a file called pqsg.1, pqsg.2, pqsg.3, and so on. They are not text-readable.

I created a complete set of save game files for Police Quest version 2.0G which you can download here:


The first set of save games takes you from 0 points up to 80.
The second set takes you from 85 to 142.
The third set takes you to 211 points.



In the Good Old Games version of Police Quest, these files are called pq1sg.000, pq1sg.001, pq1sg.002, etc., as well as pq1sg.dir. This .dir file contains all the descriptions of the save games. By default they are saved in your AppData folder, under C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files (x86)\Games\GOG.com\Police Quest 1-2-3-4\Police Quest 1

Note that it is unlikely that save game files that were created using one version of Police Quest will work with another version.


Versions of the game known to exist

Version Date Comments
Demo 1987 This is "Demo Pack 1" (Sierra produced 5 so-called Demo Packs to showcase a variety of titles). Demo Pack 1 contains a demo of Thexder, Mixed Up Mother Goose, 3D Helicopter Sim, and Space Quest II.
Demo2 1987 This is "Demo Pack 2", which contains demos of 3D Helicopter Sim, Space Quest II,Thexder, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest, Kings Quest III, Mixed Up Mother Goose, and Kings Quest II.
2.0A 23 October 1987 All VOL.n files are slightly smaller than later revisions. The file AGI is called START.EXE in this version.
2.0E 17 November 1987 Uses AGI interpreter v2.917.
2.0G 3 December 1987 Minor update. VOL.1 file slightly altered over 2.0E version. Still uses AGI interpreter v2.917.
VGA Remake 1992 The 1992 remake of PQ1 featured 256-colour VGA graphics, nice audio support and ran the SCI 1.1 interpreter.
Police Quest Collection: 4 Most Wanted 1995 This compilation includes PQ1, PQ2, PQ3, PQ4 and PQ1 VGA.
Police Quest Collection Series 1997 For MS-DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.1/95. Comprises all four Police Quest titles, plus the first SWAT title. It also includes trailers for Gabriel Knight 2 and Police Quest: SWAT 2, and a video on the making of Police Quest by Daryl F. Gates.
Police Quest Collection 2006 Released by Vivendi for Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7.


Original Floppy Disk Contents

The floppy disks have no specific volume label. This is the original 1987 release.

Disk #, Media Type and Game Version Media Scans

Disk 1 of 2 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD) v2.0G:

Directory of A:\
AGI                      39,424 04-12-1987  9:09
AGIDATA OVL 8,192 01-12-1987 8:49
CGA_GRAF OVL 1,024 01-12-1987 8:48
EGA_GRAF OVL 1,024 01-12-1987 8:48
HGC_FONT 3,072 26-01-1987 15:47
HGC_GRAF OVL 1,536 01-12-1987 8:48
HGC_OBJS OVL 1,024 01-12-1987 8:48
IBM_OBJS OVL 512 01-12-1987 8:48
INSTALLH BAT 1,239 04-12-1987 9:08
JR_GRAF OVL 512 01-12-1987 8:48
LOGDIR 360 03-12-1987 9:17
MAKEPATH COM 74 22-04-1987 12:05
OBJECT 369 20-10-1987 12:04
PICDIR 351 03-12-1987 9:17
PQ101088 QA 13 01-01-1980 1:41
SIERRA COM 3,115 16-11-1987 13:32
SNDDIR 126 03-12-1987 9:17
VG_GRAF OVL 512 01-12-1987 8:48
VIEWDIR 768 03-12-1987 9:17
VOL 0 66,869 03-12-1987 9:15
VOL 1 195,134 03-12-1987 9:15
WORDS TOK 6,737 17-11-1987 19:12
_INSTALL BAT 999 04-12-1987 9:09
_PQ BAT 36 23-10-1987 18:00
24 File(s) 333,022 Bytes

Disk 2 of 2 (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD) v2.0G:

Directory of A:\
OBJECT                      369 20-10-1987 12:04
VOL 0 66,869 17-11-1987 22:16
VOL 2 250,269 17-11-1987 22:17
VOL 3 23 01-01-1980 0:29
4 File(s) 317,530 Bytes
 

Disk 1 of 3 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD) v2.0E:

Directory of A:\
AGI                      39,424 18-11-1987 16:40
AGIDATA OVL 8,192 16-11-1987 15:16
CGA_GRAF OVL 1,024 16-11-1987 15:16
EGA_GRAF OVL 1,024 16-11-1987 15:16
HGC_FONT 3,072 26-01-1987 15:47
HGC_GRAF OVL 1,536 16-11-1987 15:16
HGC_OBJS OVL 1,024 16-11-1987 15:16
IBM_OBJS OVL 512 16-11-1987 15:16
INSTALLH BAT 1,239 18-11-1987 16:39
JR_GRAF OVL 512 16-11-1987 15:16
LOGDIR 360 17-11-1987 22:17
MAKEPATH COM 74 22-04-1987 12:05
OBJECT 369 20-10-1987 12:04
PICDIR 351 17-11-1987 22:17
SIERRA COM 3,115 16-11-1987 13:32
SNDDIR 126 17-11-1987 22:17
VG_GRAF OVL 512 16-11-1987 15:16
VIEWDIR 768 17-11-1987 22:17
VOL 0 66,869 17-11-1987 22:16
VOL 1 384,576 17-11-1987 22:16
WORDS TOK 6,737 17-11-1987 19:12
_INSTALL BAT 999 18-11-1987 16:39
_PQ BAT 36 23-10-1987 18:00
23 File(s) 522,451 Bytes

 

Disk 2 of 3 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD) v2.0E:

Directory of A:\
OBJECT                      369 20-10-1987 12:04
PQ101088 QA 13 01-01-1980 1:41
VOL 0 66,869 03-12-1987 9:15
VOL 2 189,447 03-12-1987 9:16
4 File(s) 256,698 Bytes
 

Disk 3 of 3 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

Directory of A:\
OBJECT                      369 20-10-1987 12:04
PQ101088 QA 13 01-01-1980 1:41
VOL 0 66,869 03-12-1987 9:15
VOL 3 250,262 03-12-1987 9:17
4 File(s) 317,513 Bytes
 


Installed Directory Contents

Once installed, the following directory structure exists in the game directory.

Game version 2.0G:

 
                              
Directory of C:\SIERRA\PQ
AGI 39,424 04-12-1986 8:33
AGIDATA OVL 8,192 01-12-1986 7:49
CGA_GRAF OVL 1,024 01-12-1986 7:48
EGA_GRAF OVL 1,024 01-12-1986 7:48
EXISTS COM 574 10-09-1987 12:52
GODIR COM 507 05-09-1988 8:24
HGC_FONT 3,072 26-01-1986 14:47
HGC_GRAF OVL 1,536 01-12-1986 7:48
HGC_OBJS OVL 1,024 01-12-1986 7:48
IBM_OBJS OVL 512 01-12-1986 7:48
INSTALL BAT 1,545 12-06-1995 8:18
JR_GRAF OVL 512 01-12-1986 7:48
LOGDIR 360 03-12-1986 8:40
OBJECT 369 23-10-1986 15:00
PICDIR 351 03-12-1986 8:40
POPDIR COM 768 12-05-1986 15:40
PUSHDIR COM 768 12-05-1986 15:39
SIERRA COM 3,115 16-11-1986 12:32
SNDDIR 126 03-12-1986 8:40
VG_GRAF OVL 512 01-12-1986 7:48
VIEWDIR 768 03-12-1986 8:40
VOL 0 66,869 03-12-1986 8:37
VOL 1 384,591 03-12-1986 8:39
VOL 2 250,262 03-12-1986 8:40
WHAT EXE 3,170 30-07-1987 23:00
WORDS TOK 6,737 23-10-1986 15:00
_INSTALL BAT 999 04-12-1986 8:32
27 File(s) 778,711 Bytes


Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel - Game Review

Sierra On-Line branched out in 1987 into this new 'Quest' series. Still leveraging their AGI, or Adventure Game Interpreter, they recognised a gap in the market for something more serious than that offered by King's Quest and Space Quest.

In the prior two years, we had seen Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter, King's Quest I, II and III, The Black Cauldron, Mixed-Up Mother Goose, and then around mid-87, Leisure Suit Larry was launched alongside this, the first in the Police Quest series.

In PQ1, you play Sonny Bonds, a police officer in the Lytton Police force, who has aspirations to becoming Detective some day. To get the most of out of this game, you will need some patience and logical thinking. Unless you have a police background, much of this game will be trial and error, so I recommend you save your progress regularly. Forgot to read a suspect their Miranda rights before making an arrest? Too bad, start over. Failure to do the mandatory vehicle inspection every time you leave the station? Uh-oh, start over.

Within a few minutes of exploring the station, you will meet other colleagues and work out where you need to be. Sometimes during your play-through of PQ1, you may be wondering 'what next?' - especially when you leave the station to go out on patrol; give it time and some event will occur that requires your attention. Driving around the map can be a little tricky too, but fortunately the game has function key shortcuts to adjust your vehicle speed from Slow, Medium and Fast (with the reds and blues on!) which are essential in helping you not crash.

After a number of routine police events that help you understand how the game mechanic works, you are gradually introduced to the main plot - a drug lord who must be taken down. Once on the trail, you still have a number of non-plot-related tasks, but the storyline does a good job of keeping your progress moving in the right direction by exposing Sonny to new characters and more and more evidence on the case.

These days the AGI interface can seem a little clunky so you do need to cast yourself back to 1987 [if you were around back then] - for its time the text parser was really pretty decent. The combination of being able to move your character with the arrow keys in the graphical portion of the screen coupled with the text entry below to interact with the environment gave you a lot of flexibility within the game world.

AGI was used by Sierra from 1984 to 1989. In 1988 they released the first game based on AGI's successor, SCI: King's Quest IV. The last game to use AGI was Manhunter 2: San Francisco, released in 1989.

Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel does give you some guidance as you work through various scenarios, while at other times it is inevitable you will forget a critical item before going to the next scene. It rarely feels rushed, and unlike some other Sierra titles, I don't believe you can 'miss' a key interaction by not getting somewhere fast enough (or not waiting around long enough for some key character to show up), which can be a source of frustration.

Perhaps where the game is let down, and this is common for the other AGI games, is the almost complete lack of sound during gameplay. There are a few bleeps and bloops, but it is otherwise silent. Despite this, Police Quest is still a lovable title, and one that must be played if you've not done so before. If 16-colour EGA or text entry isn't your thing, try the remastered version that provided a point-and-click interface and glorious 256-colour VGA graphics.

** SPOILER WARNING: The screenshots below are taken from an entire walkthrough of the game,
so if you have not yet completed Police Quest 1, don't scroll down! **


The game's intro sequence


In the middle of the police station (don't forget your keys and radio), the briefing room, and the locker room


Your briefcase, Sgt.Dooley's office, the police station's computer, and more rooms


Don't leave before the briefing, be sure to shower before your shift, the daily newspaper, and in the briefing


Once you're on the road you can drive around the city, and as you do, Dispatch will radio you when you are to pick up a task.


Arriving at the scene of an accident, questioning the bystanders, and taking a break at Carol's Caffeine Castle


Back on the beat you stop a speeding sports car - be sure to follow proper Police procedure!


Rough bikers, drunk drivers - all in a day's work


You'll visit the jail quite often in PQ1. Back at the station...


there's an ongoing secret gremlin that plays games with Sgt.Dooley, end of the shift, and meeting up with your friends


Back for another shift, and it's another daily briefing, call in for backup and search the vehicle


Check IDs, read little black books, and don't forget the trunk! Back to the Narcotics office


to check the files, gather evidence and try to stop the suspects going free


At the Lytton Courthouse


Staking out a drug exchange with your partner, and it's off to jail for you two


Another crime scene, this time a body at the river. The plot thickens as you are prepare for an undercover assignment


At the Hotel Delphoria


A quiet backroom card game, gain their trust to be invited back for a higher stakes game


Shootout in the hotel