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Tex Murphy games: Opinions?

Joined
Jun 10, 2010
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Made a trip to the parentals recently, and after a quick look in the basement to see what goodies I may have left there (found my old copy of 'Shattered Lands', box and all) I came across the 6 cds that made up 'The Pandora Directive', a game I remember playing when I was younger and being a little bit in awe of the time.

That said, let me clarify that 'awe' may come off as a strong word to use, but I was a real fuckwit back in the day (still am to certain extents) and the entire FMV phase was something I found kind of cool... hey, I told ya I was a fuckwit.

Well, back on track here. The reason I'm bringing it up now is that though I always knew there was a previous game by the name of 'Under a Killing Moon' I just discovered an older game called 'Martian Memorandum' as well, though that one is labeled as 'Tex Murphy 2' on the website I'm taking a look at. Not in the mood to check Wiki out to see what the full series is, as my main question is how these games have aged since the FMV fad fell out.

I'm probably going to give Pandora another try, as I remember I was too dull to even try the hard mode of the puzzles back in the day, but how are the other two, and the series as a whole? I know you guys are nice and honest with your commentary, so what is the Codex's opinions on these games, or recommendations if I shouldn't bother with them at all.
 

Sceptic

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Divinity: Original Sin
Quick rundown:

Mean Streets: flawed and a bit of a mess, but there's a good game in there. It has a stupid action minigame (obligatory) and a boring flying minigame (optional, using the Eschelon engine). Aside from that it's a good little game with an interesting plot, one of the few investigation games that manage to have a LOT of red herrings (some of which you can follow for a while). It's also extremely nonlinear.

Martian Memorandum: awesome game. VERY good story, good puzzles but very unforgiving. There ARE hints when you mess up, but if you miss the hint you can get yourself completely stuck. More linear and tightly structured than MS. Has some annoying trial-and-error bits and the occasional place where timing is important, but the rest of the game is so good it's worth putting up with the annoyances.

Under a Killing Moon: tons of potential, mostly fail. Poor writing, really bad acting, lots of visual glitching due to superimposition of video and 3D backgrounds, pretty boring puzzles (including a LOT of trial-and-error), average story. All in all the weakest Tex Murphy game.

The Pandora Directive: pure awesome. This is what UKM should've been. Great writing, mostly good acting, good to great puzzles, somewhat linear (depends on the chapters), pretty long, overall story is meh but some of the details are excellent (eg tracking down the Black Arrow Killer, getting away from the "terror" in the secret base). Great atmosphere, captures Noir almost perfectly. It's the best Tex game and probably the only good thing to come out of FMV: it's one of the few games that manage to use FMV and still be a real game. Oh yeah, and it has lots of C&C - emphasis on the Consequences.

Overseer: basically a remake/reimagining of Mean Streets. Same basic plot, some of the details are changed, got rid of all the extra stuff and red herrings, uses similar gameplay to UKM/Pandora. YMMV. I find it not as good as MS, as it removed some of the things that made MS special, but the game feels much tighter too. Oh, and it has Michael York being awesome in a wheelchair.

Good series all in all, with a couple of excellent highlights.
 
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Hrmm, now that I think about it I do recall 'The Pandora Directive' winning an award for adventure game of the year when I purchased it, though I guess that meant a little more back when it was released compared to nowadays.

Anyway, thank you again for the excellent detail of the series, shall definitely be giving the first 2 games a try as well. Now to see if I can get Pandora to run on my current laptop.
 

DriacKin

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If I remember correctly, Pandora Directive wasn't really all that difficult to get running in dosbox.
Also, the game gets a glowing recommendation from me. Easily the best of the series.
 

jazzotron

Liturgist
Joined
Jul 14, 2009
Messages
248
I agree - Pandora Directive is easily the best, although I did enjoy UaKM as well!

Only thing that bugged me about the series are those damnable conversation puzzles - the ones where you have to pick the correct dialogue options or die! They're not even puzzles given that there is no logical path through them - one must pick an option randomly and hope for the best! :cry:

I've heard rumour of a new Tex Murphy game in development - can anyone confirm or deny?
 

trustno1code

Prophet
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La Pologne
jazzotron said:
I've heard rumour of a new Tex Murphy game in development - can anyone confirm or deny?
There were plans apparently, but I think it went nowhere. When Chris Jones and Aaron Conners founded Big Finish Games they were hoping to get enough of an income of their new stuff ("3 Cards to ..." franchise) to afford making another Tex game eventually. They even went ahead with sorting out the rights issue (source):

Aaron Conners said:
We've always said that it was our most heartfelt desire to bring Tex back for at least one last hurrah. Rest assured that we still feel the same.

Three Cards to Midnight started out as a possible means to that end. We thought that we might have some success by creating a game with a broader appeal and, hopefully, generate some revenue that we could eventually leverage into a budget for a new Tex game.

(...)

There are some things in the works that might help us bring Tex back. There's nothing official, but we will certainly make a big announcement when and if we make a deal.

One issue that we want to put to bed is the questions of the rights. I can't go into detail, but it's no longer a concern and there's no reason to do anything with the purpose of "convincing" Microsoft, IndieBuilt, 2K or anyone else to "free Tex" :)

This may not be the news you were hoping for but, trust me, we're headed in the right direction and I no longer think Tex's return is an "if", but a "when".

That was over a year ago. Unfortunately, the "adventurish HOGs" they created apparently tanked, and they're pretty much out of business. With one "but" (source):

Aaron Conners said:
Our hope with the 3 Cards series was to create a game that would be casual enough to appeal to casual gamers, but offer enough story and challenge to please the more core adventure gamers; after making these two games, I'm not sure it's even possible. Many casual gamers aren't patient enough to get into the story and think even the easiest difficulty levels are too hard, while many adventure gamers find the structure too restrictive and repetitive. We used to think that there was some crossover there (and maybe there will be in the future), but what makes a successful casual game is mostly a direct contradiction to adventure design.

At this point, Chris and I are in deep discussions about our future. Unless something significant changes in the casual market, it's just not viable for us as a 3rd party developer. The only way to make any money at all is to do contract work (which we are doing) and get paid to develop a game for a publisher. It doesn't pay much, but it's guaranteed income and that keeps us in business.

In the near future, expect to hear an announcement about a return to our roots: a traditional (though updated and contemporary) adventure game. This may be our swan song, but we're not going to die on the vine without shooting off all our ammo in one last attempt. We feel a bit like Butch and Sundance down in Bolivia...let's just hope for a happier ending!
No confirmation on whether this "Project Fedora" is indeed another Tex game though.
 

jazzotron

Liturgist
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248
Probably for the best if the series stays dead. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a new Tex Murphy game turned out to be a cover-based TPS.
 

Forest Dweller

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jazzotron said:
Only thing that bugged me about the series are those damnable conversation puzzles - the ones where you have to pick the correct dialogue options or die! They're not even puzzles given that there is no logical path through them - one must pick an option randomly and hope for the best! :cry:
I did feel it was too good to be true when someone said that it was an adventure game that actually had C&C. Now I know for sure.
 

Sceptic

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Longwinded & Pretty said:
Now to see if I can get Pandora to run on my current laptop.
Windows mode can be finnicky on modern OS (and even on Win98 it used to crash frequently on me) but DOS mode should work fine in DOSBox.

trustno1code said:
No confirmation on whether this "Project Fedora" is indeed another Tex game though.
The name is a giveaway I would say ;)
But who knows what they can do, if anything, with the resources they have. :(

Dicksmoker said:
I did feel it was too good to be true when someone said that it was an adventure game that actually had C&C. Now I know for sure.
Don't be a dick. The trial and error conversations he's referring to are mostly in UKM. The C&C I was referring to is in Pandora Directive. And no, that is not what I meant by C&C.
 

Fomorian

Novice
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Apr 27, 2010
Messages
95
DriacKin said:
If I remember correctly, Pandora Directive wasn't really all that difficult to get running in dosbox.
Also, the game gets a glowing recommendation from me. Easily the best of the series.

Only Tex Murphy game that won't work in DosBox is Overseer and you can get that running in Windows pretty easily so long as you don't have a 64-bit OS.

Great games. Pandora Directive really is the high point of the series but I always had a soft spot for Overseer since it was the first one I played and Michael York is awesome.
 
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Nomnoming through a smoked meat poutine right abou
Sceptic said:
Dicksmoker said:
I did feel it was too good to be true when someone said that it was an adventure game that actually had C&C. Now I know for sure.
Don't be a dick. The trial and error conversations he's referring to are mostly in UKM. The C&C I was referring to is in Pandora Directive. And no, that is not what I meant by C&C.

Hmm, you by chance mean the multiple endings and one one got to them? I remember finishing off as a clown the first (and only) time I played, and couldn't for the live of me remember why I got one of the 'bad' endings.

The more I think of it the more I'm remembering the different parts of Pandora Directive. Okay, time to install this. It's good to hear it'll run under DosBox, problem is my laptop has been having issues with 'Box since I upgraded to Win7 and lost the control app to the graphic settings. Would feel wrong to run it in a window..
 

Sceptic

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Which ending you get is determined by a number of things you do, mostly by how many people get killed. Generally being nice and warning people who you think are in danger is good, being an ass means people will end up mistrusting you and that can come back to bite you in the ass later. To get the "best" ending you need to save everyone you can (there are a couple of people that will still die no matter what), be as nice as possible to the main characters to make sure they trust you and stay faithful to Chelsea.

By the way the clown ending isn't the worst. It probably means you were a half-dick (rather than a complete bastard) and slept with Reagan. I think there's one choice at the very end that determines if you get the clown ending or the "everyone blows up" ending.
 

jazzotron

Liturgist
Joined
Jul 14, 2009
Messages
248
Longwinded & Pretty said:
Sceptic said:
Dicksmoker said:
I did feel it was too good to be true when someone said that it was an adventure game that actually had C&C. Now I know for sure.
Don't be a dick. The trial and error conversations he's referring to are mostly in UKM. The C&C I was referring to is in Pandora Directive. And no, that is not what I meant by C&C.

Hmm, you by chance mean the multiple endings and one one got to them? I remember finishing off as a clown the first (and only) time I played, and couldn't for the live of me remember why I got one of the 'bad' endings.

The more I think of it the more I'm remembering the different parts of Pandora Directive. Okay, time to install this. It's good to hear it'll run under DosBox, problem is my laptop has been having issues with 'Box since I upgraded to Win7 and lost the control app to the graphic settings. Would feel wrong to run it in a window..

If I've managed to get in before you've installed, then try this.
Saves on having to change CDs everytime you travel or use the phone.

I'm playing again after using this custom installer - see how it goes!
 

trustno1code

Prophet
Joined
May 24, 2007
Messages
290
Location
La Pologne
Bit of an update from Chris and Aaron:
In other news, please check in with us toward the end of the summer (late September-ish) as we will have some news on an upcoming release. No, it’s not Project Fedora, but we do hope to have some info regarding that venture as well.

Thanks for your patronage!
 

Sceptic

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God DAMN it. I was hoping it would be something to do with Fedora.

Would still be interesting to see what they're going to try this time.
 

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