Monday, 8 August 2011

Deadline (MS-DOS) - Guest Post

What's that? I'm doing a game that looks interesting? I know!

Let's start off with a super-interactive FMV mega montage of SWAT guys doing their stuff! YEAH!

According to this video guy, I've just been promoted to Team Leader and I'm getting his chair. I'm the boss now so I'm supposed to watch out for the video phone to ring, because that's when things get serious.

It's the videophone! Things just got serious.

This is 'B', the boss of all FMV. I've got four hours of real time to sort out a hostage incident in Borton. The clock is ticking.

The last guy kindly left me a finished plan for this mission, so I can simply hit the 'Execute' button (a prize for guessing which one that is) and win the mission. That's assuming the plan he left would work.

Before I do anything, I'm going to try to ring the hostake takers and see if I can simply talk them down.

Ring ring... I don't get a video, but I do get audio!

I get a bunch of dialogue options ranging from the aggressive 'We're going in now! Surrender!' to the passive 'There's no need for violence.'. Unfortunately for me, this guy doesn't want to give up just because I asked him to.

So much for diplomacy, what else can I do?

Let's try to equip the squad.

We've got a couple of grenade launchers in the van! That's the perfect weapon for my sneaky team of sneaky soldiers!

Nah, I'd better not. I don't think the plan will work quite as well if I start replacing our guys' pistols with grenade launchers. It'll be entertaining for me, but not for the hostages.

I'll look at all the options properly on the next level, so let's just execute the plan and see what happens.

It's time for the isometric action view! Tense music!

I don't quite know the details of the plan I'm executing here. My soldiers seem to walking around the outside edge of the building over and over again. I hope none of the bad guys are looking out of the windows, because this is not as subtle an entrance as I'd hoped.

I turn away for a second and all my guys start storming the entrances simultaneously! There's guys on the top floor and guys on this floor and gunfire everywhere. Hostages have pluses above them, bad guys have squares. Somewhat fortuitously, between the plan and my soldiers' AI, we seem to be winning this somewhat chaotic battle...

One of my guys at the top of the screen near the mouse cursor has been knocked unconscious, but the guy in the bottom right has got the drop on the bad guy directly in front of him. I've decided not to intervene because I'd have absolutely no idea what to do.

Mission complete! B's relieved that I didn't swap out the soldiers' weapons for grenade launchers or start clicking randomly during the action sequence. Excellent.

For my first proper level, I can choose to lead the Rapid Reaction Force again, the Metropolitan Security Force (for dealing with VIPs) or the Transport Police. I'm staying with the RRF because they are cool.

Looks like my team sticks with me from mission to mission, and I can recruit new men between missions. I'm picking Captain Jean-Pierre Debard, because he's a badass.

Here's the planning screen. I've got just over five hours to defuse a hostage crisis (again). There's a businessman and his family being held hostage in this mansion.

On the previous mission, the blueprint was covered in a mass of lines and markers from the already prepared plan. Clicking on the map only placed more markers; it's a miracle I didn't totally screw up the plan when I tried to scroll the map. I don't seem to have any intelligence on how many bad guys I'm dealing with or where they are so I'm going to leave this alone for now.

I've called up the local hacker. You can tell he's a hacker because he's lit up blue. I've asked him to disable the alarm system in ten minutes. (Great idea, eh? Wish I'd thought of it. I was just dialing the numbers one by one and this was the only conversation option it gave me.)

Let's call the bad guys.

Wow! I've convinced them to let the businessman's family go! Mission half-complete! They've reduced the timer to fifteen minutes but I think I can come up with a workable plan in that amount of time. The alarm's going down in six minutes so I'll move in then.

We've hit upon a snag. Or rather, a whole cluster of snags.

I managed to arm all my guys with MP5 submachineguns and Glock pistols, but we can't seem to get the front door open. Left click moves, right click fires, but kicking the door doesn't get it open.

I've sent in our demolitions expert with some grenades (they were all we had that went bang) to try and get the door open.

Oh... bugger. He threw the grenade at the door, but it hit one of my men and fell to the ground.

That was really, really stupid.

With half my squad dead, I'm free to chuck my remaining grenades at the door. All direct hits. No damage.

Everybody who's left is ordered to keep kicking the bloody door until it opens. I'm certain I can claw this back in 37 seconds.

B is not a happy bunny. Mission failed.

I'm a little peeved that the game claims I didn't rescue any hostages. I quite clearly DID rescue two of them. It says right there in the conversation log.

If you're wondering how I managed to spend five hours screwing around off-screen, I was trying to use the research system to come to a non-violent resolution. Check it out:

You get reports from intelligence services throughout the mission. If you want, you can click on specific terms like 'assassination squad' or 'other members' to research them. It takes about twenty minutes of real time to research each term. (There is a fast forward.) If you're lucky, you get a new report about the term, but most of the time you get absolutely nothing. I'm convinced that if I pick the right terms to research, I can end some missions peacefully over the phone. That's yet to be shown in practice, though.

Man, that last guy was very smart to give up his chair. This is not an easy job. I'll leave this to the pros.

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