His name is Murphy - Tex Murphy - PI in SF circa 2033 - and he's a hard-boiled gumshoe in the Mike Hammer mould. Some egghead took a flying lesson off of the Golden Gate and his daughter smelt a rat. She wanted Tex to find out the truth. Was it murder? The answer lay on the Mean Streets of San Francisco, lurking in some smog-
Tex had all the latest high-techn 'tec extras, like a hover car complete with fax, a video phone and a Colt '45. Machines, however, can't solve crimes, so he had to hit the shoe leather to track down the slimeball who'd jumped Carl Linsky.
There were five obvious places to start, five people who knew the guy, five goons to bribe and threaten into telling the truth. All Tex had to do was punch in the correct navigation codes (each address in the state has an address code) and let the auto-pilot take the strain. Gone were the days of incriminating telephone numbers on matchbooks, now it was all about Nav codes.
21st century travel still took time so Tex always used the 'phone to gather some background dirt on suspects while in transit. Vanessa, his secretary, was a smart dame. He'd lay one Vid call on her and minutes later she'd fax the info back. The, of course, there was always the stunning Lee Chin, his grass. Lee Chin by name and leeching by nature - any street talk she passed on cost an arm, a leg and a few other body parts besides - but that's another story.
Interviews were just a stagger in the park to Tex. He slobbed through the door and got grilling. Tex didn't exactly have the gift of the gab - he made Hemingway look wordy. He'd only ever ask "What do you know?" then threaten, bribe or leave. All he ever tacked on the end of his questions were full names, company titles or places. Blunt, brutal and effective, just like Tex.
Tex also loved searching suspects' homes. People invariably had some dirty laundry tucked away and rooting through it was like taking a holiday in the dark side of their souls. He always kept any hard evidence he found - he also kept any hard cash.
Tex walked the Mean Streets packed, his one constant companion a '45 automatic. His cannon was the one partner who wouldn't walk out on him after a fight. In the nether regions of California where law and order seldom dared to tread, and if it did it ran quickly, he needed his persuader.
Pimps, pushers, pros, perps and perverts just loved to take pot shots at 'tecs. Tex either shot back or hid behind the crates, slowly working his way across to his destination.
One slip was near deadly - a few hits and he'd have been vulture bait for certain. But these shoot-outs were always good practice for bounty hunting, a fun task that kept the wolf from the door, the rent paid and the State Coroner on overtime.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Mean Streets has style. It's Blade Runner meets Mike Hammer, space age slimeballs with a nice line in downtrodden urban junk. The digitised pictures are animated and ooze sleaze, giving the characters real, solid personalities. The searches are easy - the large animated houses are easily scoured using the joystick and menus. Even travelling to and from places is smart thanks to the great 3D car-
The music evokes the right sense of late-
Mean Streets is packed with clues, locations and suspects. The first few encounters just serve to make you aware of how vast the mystery surrounding Carl Linsky's death really is, with political pressure groups, ditched fiancees and leads by the bucket load. There's a large map to explore and bounty-
On the down side, though, there are two main sticking points. Firstly Tex spends too much time in transit, espaically when the call of duty takes him down the coast. Secondly, as seems to be the case with most graphic adventures, there's just too much disk-
Mean Streets is a tough, hard-nosed adventure. It's not a game you take on and beat in a few hours. It has slow moments and requires the usual pedantry to ensure success, but the satirical bent more than makes amends. The detective character is well designed and well-defined in what he can and cannot do: so when conversing with suspects, he doesn't spend weeks trying to find the correct syntactical form to elicit an answer.
All aspects of the game follow logical detective patterns, which helps in piecing together the scattered notes and solving the crime. Evidence pops up regularly enough to keep you interested while the plot is complexly vague enough to maintain real suspense.