Part 2: We are good at collecting intel
Suggested Listening: Metal Gear Solid 2 - Sneaking theme
Alright, let's get started!
True to their word, the Bureau drops us off right in the middle of town with no leads, no equipment, no money, and no way of contacting them. Secrecy!
Let's talk interface. Bureau 13 is a point-and-click, with all the usual commands - you've got your look at, your use, your give. Each character ALSO has a number of unique commands, which are the top right commands. Poor Delilah is sort of a one-trick pony, so she only has "smash", leaving an empty command slot (you can see special moves on the character files in update 1)
What's notable is that a significant number of these commands are going to see virtually no use - give and throw have exactly one in-game for each, and if there is ever a useful time to push/pull, I haven't found it. I'm also pretty sure you can make it ALMOST through the entire game without talking to anybody. By contrast, search, pickup, open, all will see a ton of use.
One notable thing about the game is the sheer number of descriptions - most anything of interest has a description associated with it, sometimes many descriptions. We'll get into that later. I'll also only look at the important things unless there is something somebody is DYING to see.
"...and Several important leads. (Details on page two.)
Welcome to the first puzzle in the game! We are supposed to be collecting information, and this newspaper has the delicious facts that we crave. But how to GET it?
Well, as it turns out, each of the teams has a handy way to get at it.
- Our path is barred from us, like our souls from the blessed purgation that leads heavenward. I fear we may have to ask a stranger for help, my son.
- Yeah we're not doin' that. I'm just gonna break in here right quick.
- Stealing!? The weight of your sins bears upon us both, and I shall not be defiled with...
- Hey, could you look up, uh, 2 Timothy 2:5 for me Father?
- I... suppose. Let's see here...
- Alright, "Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete..."
- Yeah never mind. Hey, look, the machine seems to have opened!
- A miracle!
- Goodness, it does appear that, despite the best efforts of our Bureau, we were placed somewhere near a source of information. No matter HOW bad the American press may be, this will surely have some information of help.
- Now how to GET at it. I could enthrall a mortal to do my bidding, of course, but that lacks a certain subtlety... Ah! I have it! I will assume my mist form and enter the machine. I will partially re-corporate, and operate the lever release mechanism from inside. From there, I will need you to be ready to...
- Or we could just get it.
- A delicate touch, I see. How appropriate for a stealth mission.
- Hmmm. Troublesome. We were dropped off without any currency, and I lack the necessary tools to construct an electromagnetic lock pin equalizer. I don't suppose you could magic open the lock?
- Young man! I need to CONSERVE my magickal energies, and wasting them on frivolous things like opening a newspaper vending machine is QUITE out of the question!
- Sorry, sorry! Alright, we'll have to come up with an alternate plan. Hmm, I suppose if I was able to obtain a block of magnesium.....
- Hold on a minute.
"Divination result - the top story in the newspaper (in the vending machine) indicates that critical evidence pertaining to Agent Withers' attempted assassination of Sheriff Tucker is currently in the police evidence locker. The police station is to the east."
And yes, that's essentially what the newspaper article says for the other people. And no, I'm not quite sure why a newspaper would go into detail about "THE POLICE HAVE THE EVIDENCE IN THEIR POLICE STATION LOCKER. JUST IN CASE ANYBODY NEEDED IT BESIDES THE POLICE!"
Small town journalism!
Incidentally, what would happen if you had, say, the priest/hacker team operating? What would happen is you would search the vending machine, and find that there was a quarter in the coin return slot, which you could use to get the paper.
Well, heading east as the paper directed us, we come to the police station. It's kind of a dump. Might as well head on in!
In here we'll encounter our first non-Bureau person. I want you to see how the game handles the battlemech.
Click this link, it's worth it
That's right. They don't. Everybody just looks at the battlemech like she's a totally reasonable person to be standing in front of them. My favorite part of that is her trying to fake that she's a journalist. A JOURNALIST. LOOK AT HER. Surely the policeman will see right th-
.... Whatever. Moving on.
So this police guy is a stone wall. You can talk to him and find out that the Sheriff is being held in the hospital, but he won't give out any more information. We need to get past him into the evidence locker.
Remember how the newspaper puzzle had a bunch of solutions? Let's try solving this one!
- Child's play! I will simply assume my mist form, and move past the guard undetected!
- Are you sure changing in front of somebody is a good idea?
- This peasant wouldn't notice Dracula himself, if he swept in in all his majesty!
It... doesn't go well.
(The desk fan inexplicably turns around and blows the cloud of fog away. Not... the most dignified way this could have turned out.)
Well ok, so that didn't work. Our thief actually has a COMMAND called sneak. Let's sneak past the guard!
in! I've got an eagle eye, pal. You best not try anything like that again.
(So he didn't notice the mist form or the battlemech, but SNEAKING... )
Hm. Ok. Can't sneak, can't mist past, can't attack the policeman (the game just doesn't accept the attack icon placed on him).
The priest is supposed to be able to talk to people on a deep level, but he can't get through to this guy at all. What to do...
be helpful, especially since cigarettes like the one the sergeant is smoking are a common cause of most fires.
Hm. I see. Well, away we go!
It doesn't go well
So a brief aside: there are a lot of things that this encounter illustrates very well, that are both indicative of common things in games from that era, and of lazy programming, unfortunately.
1) The game doesn't keep track of (most) conversations. You can tell the guard that you're a secret government agent, leaving aside how stupid that is for a second, and he won't react any differently if you JUST said you were a reporter.
2) Puzzles like this infinitely reset. This guy is SO patient with putting out fires and resuming his day.
But one thing I have to give them, is that when there is a stupid puzzle with a very "adventure game" solution, by gum, they don't make you hunt all over the game for the item that solves it. Yet.
Yes, friends. The only other item in the room is a bottle of super glue. Put on your thinking caps, kids!
And THIS time...
That very contained wastebasket fire was enough to make the poor detective run away forever. Now, LOOTING TIME!
Heading into the sheriff's office, we find it to be fairly modern. I mean he's got old-fashioned chairs, but that monitor on the left there looks pretty fancy!
There's not much to do in here. We snag the keys, and look at that monitor. It shows a security camera pointed at the evidence room. No good!
Fortunately, there's a breaker box in the back, so we can shut off the lights. It's made clear that this DOESN'T shut off the camera, just the lights.
This next part has the hallmark of a deleted puzzle. Alex there will remark on how being a creature of the night he has no trouble seeing in the dark, and Suttle will say he's used to working in the dark.
Or you can do this. (This is us having unlocked the evidence locker, the other door in the police station). The light spell presumably only gives the characters light, not the cameras. Also it DOES have an effect, so the text box lies!
I think they wanted seeing in the dark to be a puzzle, but realized they couldn't guarantee that Selma, Suttle, or Alex would be in the party, and so scrapped it. This whole part can be done in the dark.
We also swiped a camera from the desk there. Not with any film on it, but, you know, maybe we'll need a camera!
This is as good a time as any to point out the insane points system. See, this is a STEALTH mission, so we need to make a low impact. NOBODY CAN KNOW WE WERE HERE.
What that means, in practical terms, is we lose points from our score if we don't shut every door that we opened, and turn the lights back on.
We can't put the evidence back that we stole, of course. Even after we read it and it's useless to us. And we can't put out the fire in the trashcan.
So the sequences of events as the desk sergeant would report it is: vampire and woman in robot suit enter police department, first identifying as members of a super-secret government bureau (in that conversation tree we also reveal that the department doesn't issue IDs, because they are so secret, but there ARE Bureau 13 credit cards ). A fire then breaks out in the trashcan. Unfortunately, the fire extinguisher was glued shut. The officer then left the building, leaving the vampire and battlemech alone inside.
The security camera then cuts out for a brief time, in which two bodies can be seen moving around inside the evidence room. Later, the lights come back on, and all the doors are still shut, but the sheriff's keys are missing, and the evidence room locker is unlocked.
Where could the evidence have gone?!
And that is considered MUCH SNEAKIER than the same sequence, except leaving all the doors open.
Anyway. To the evidence!
(Two things I didn't note: The thief, and only the thief, stole the policeman's revolver, and everybody took a fuse from the fusebox)
being killed. The report further indicates that some C4 (plastic explosive), similar to that used in the bomb, was recently stolen from Advanced Instrumentation, a local military contractor. The folks at AI have been most uncooperative in the investigation for some strange reason. Probably some national security thing.
The report also indicates that two other leads have not yet bee explored: Rick's Electronics, where it is assumed that the electronic detonator was purchased; and the town's delivery service, where the packaging box may have been acquired. These leads are considered slim at best. There are really very few clues to go on.
(I don't know why I went by the gym for this picture)
entire device was deployed in a cardboard bo. Some small print on one cardboard scrap reads "... Deliv..y Serv.."
Now THIS is a part of the game I want to give props to. That description is what you get when the technically inclined hacker looks at the bomb fragments.
If somebody else, say, Suttle looks at it...
Incidentally, that skull is what happens if a) you start the game with only one agent, or b) one of your agents dies.
That's actually a really cool mechanic, and adds to the re-playability of the game. Not just inventory items, but lots of background stuff has different descriptions depends on who's looking. Witch and Hacker seem to give the most unique options, but I know of a few that Delilah has.
So: now we have some leads to go on! We can piece together that the bomb components were bought from a local hardware store. So local, in fact, that it's only one screen to the right!
Team subtlety gains access to the locked door in the usual way. Alex's mist form wouldn't have worked on the newspaper, but it WOULD work to get past this door.
But you try telling DELILAH that.
Oh Delilah, you are dangerously unstable.
Suttle can obviously pick the lock and get in, so where does that leave poor hacker/witch?
It leaves them with another huge complaint I have about the game.
3) This is even worse than a pixel hunt - some things there are simply NO environmental clues for. You have to just search (NOT look, SEARCH) every square inch of the screen. Eventually...
- Bite me, Granny.
Note that this doesn't eliminate the brick from you inventory. A minor complaint
4) is that by the end of the game you are going to end up with seriously 30+ inventory items, and you only ever need 2 at a time. Most you can't get rid of because of throwing or giving. Oh well.
Let's INVESTIGATE !
The hacker shows off
Alex is clueless. (Yes there is a way. YOU COULD ASK THE HACKER)
So there are a few things of interest here.
In the back there's a box with customer files.
credit card. The card later proved to be overdrawn. The file mentions that the
proprietor of the electronics store called the credit bureau, and a response was left on the answering machine two days ago, giving J.P.'s current address
This is the only clue we get about a hidden item in the room.
We can also listen to the tapes on the counter.
Tape 1: Hi. I was just wondering if you carry 100V step up transformers. I'll call back tomorrow.
Tape 2: This is Eddie Houstan, Private investigator. I've been hired to follow up on a terrorist bomb threat. The bomb was made using components from your store. Stratusburg's sheriff was very nearly killed by the bomb. I'll want to look at your customer records. I'll stop by later.
Tape 3: I dear. I just wanted to remind you to buy a gallon of milk and some eggs on your way home.
Tape 4: Listen, jerk! I hear the cops have come around asking about a guy named J.P. Withers. You don't tell 'em nothin', see? There's a couple of feds snoopin' around too. You talk to Feds or cops and yer meat!
Hm. So that's all very interesting. I'm a little surprised he only keeps one message per tape, but you know, different strokes for different folks. But we didn't hear anything about the company calling about Withers! Well, this is another "click everywhere, there are no clues" thing. If you search the area behind the cash register...
Tape 5: Hi, this is Jessica Turner from Acme Credit Checks. I'm returning you call regarding a Mr. J.P. Withers. His last reported address was 146 fifth street. We checked it out. Unfortunately, that's the address of a used car lot. If you see Mr. Withers again, please cut up his government credit card. It's been revoked, but he's continuing to use it to rack up quite a large bill.
So... they revoked his card, but he's... still... using it?
Well anyway! We have a good number of leads now, and I think we're done here.
Well, almost done.
(note that we take the money from the cash register. That's an item that a team without Suttle or Delilah genuinely cannot get)
SO: We've got a few leads! We know that the folks at Advanced Instrumentation (AI) are being uncooperative, and that Withers stole some bomb stuff from them.
We know that he got the package from the messenger service, and we further know that his last given address was an abandoned car lot.
Which of those three do you want to follow up on first? Majority wins!