The Pandora Directive

9_1Legendary private eye Tex Murphy who wowed adventure gamers around the world in Under a Killing Moon is back in The Pandora Directive, a game that attempts to explain what really happened at Roswell. That’s where the guv’ment had supposedly captured a crashed alien spacecraft. The plot twists and turns from its humble beginnings where Tex takes on a case to find the friend of a scientist to its unusual encounters with aliens in Mexico. Like the original, Pandora uses a mix of 3D first-person exploration and navigation and third-person, full motion video segments.

In this outing, Tex is less the bumbling moron of a detective that he was in Under a Killing Moon – now he’s just a moron. The Tex character remains the weak link in the series, with Access’ Chris Jones merely serviceable in a role that requires a more dynamic presence. He’s with you the whole game; unfortunately, he’s something of a bore. He spouts off couplets throughout the game, which sound like lobotomized Chandler. The overall tone of The Pandora Directive is less silly than that in Killing Moon, so the groan-inducing bits stand out even more.

The performances throughout the game are mediocre at best, laughable at worst. Carryover characters are incredibly weak. On the plus side, this has to be one of the most user-friendly adventure game systems ever in an FMV. Pandora Directive has so many little touches that assist the player through their journey that the game can be quite easy to play. There’s keyboard shortcuts, accelerated travel (which is incredibly important for a first-person adventure, as traveling gets mighty tedious) and a multi-tiered help system (though it penalizes you by taking points).

The game has been designed with quite obvious paths that the player can take. Do you want to steal money from the poor? If so, you can follow the bad Tex path. Tie up things nicely with your soon-to-be girlfriend and you’ll be the good Tex. There are three in all, and all of them lead to the same seven possible endings.

7_1However, will anyone actually have the patience to sit through this thing seven times? The game just plods on and on, never ending. God forbid you’d ever ask for a shorter game, but, well, this game should have been shorter. Once you hit Roswell, the game goes downhill fast. There’s you’ll find a tricky timed puzzle. Whatever dramatic tension that could have been accomplished is thrown out the window when you’re running around, from room to room, trying to collect stuff in order to pass this annoyingly misplaced puzzle.

Up until the entire Roswell portion of the game, The Pandora Directive was a pleasant adventure with a fabulous interface and some decent puzzles. Fans of Under a Killing Moon would feel right at home. Unfortunately, the game kept going on and on, from one illogical episode to another. It simply felt like filler after awhile, but on the whole this is a respectable sequel to Under a Killing Moon all the same.

System Requirements: 80486/66 MHz, 8 NB RAM, Win95

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