Hill Street Blues
Unfortunately I've never seen Hill Street Blues. I've seen just about every episode of Cagney and Lacey (twice, probably!), one or two St Elsewheres and loads of LA Laws, but not a single Hill Street Blues. And, even more unfortunately, Stuart started his review of the game Hill Street Blues (in AP2, where he gave it 70%) in exactly the same way.
I will begin to deviate from Stuart's review eventually but not just yet. First I'd better get all the explaining stuff out of the way, and, unless I lie, it's bound to sound similar. The thing is, you're in charge of a precinct which is represented as a bird's-eye-view, Sim City-style, scrolling (after a fashion) map. Cars drive around the streets, stopping at traffic lights and everything. People walk about (and lead actual, identifiable lives - there are about 400 of them altogether). It goes dark at night. It looks great.
But as well as decent, upstanding citizens, your precinct is populated by criminals, who go about committing crimes ranging from bag-snatching to serial killing. And that's where you come in. You're in charge of a police force, and as reports of crimes come in you've got to assign officers to investigate them, and get them to check out the scene and interview suspects. You've got little police cars to put them in, and they've got guns they can shoot people with (if it comes to that). Thanks, too, to really detailed graphics and some smashing digitised pictures of the show's cast, it's all very realistic.
But it's so true-to-life that, all the time I was playing it, I felt like I really was in charge of a police force. And that I really ought to be paid for organising everyone's lives for them. [Which you were, actually - Ed] Doing it for free just didn't seem right, somehow, and rather boring.
The other thing that seemed a bit odd is the way that you have to tell every single policeman exactly what to do the whole time, right down to getting in and out of his/her police car, arresting people and even simply walking about. There's probably an icon in there somewhere to wipe their noses for them. And while you're making one policeman walk into a building to question someone, there could be fifteen others just lounging around in their cars waiting for you to take them by the hand and point them in the right direction. Something in the way of artificial intelligence might have been nice.
Hill Street Blues is a really detailed game, and a credible attempt to do something logical (and a bit different) with a licence rather than blundering in with a walking-about-shooting-people approach. But I found it all a bit tedious and, unless you're an ultra-patient strategy game fan, I think you will too.
The Bottom Line
Nice to look at, and the theme tune is solidly represented. It's a step in the right direction as far as licences are concerned. But its very detail rapidly got on my nerves, and I never found myself actually enjoying it.