A vulgar latter-day Leisure Suit Larry with simple adventure mechanics

Consider yourself warned: Detective Inspector Hector is not the gruff softie you might expect, the tough-talking cop with a heart of gold we’ve all grown used to seeing on network television. He’s rude, foul-mouthed, angry, corrupt, hates just about everything and everyone with equal intensity, and he’s most definitely not family-friendly. But if you’re an adventure fan with a taste for off-color humor and bizarre British slang, you might just find his antics in Hector: Badge of Carnage amusing enough to be worth a look.

Hector is a cop in the city of Clappers Wreake, known to people far and wide as the town that took the “Great” out of Britain. He’s surrounded by lowlifes, filth, corruption and crime, but he doesn’t mind; in fact, he likes it that way. So when a hostage-taker presents him with a list of oddly civic-minded demands in “We Negotiate With Terrorists,” the first chapter in Hector: Badge of Carnage, he’s less than thrilled with the prospect of making them happen. But he’s a cop and he’s got a job to do, and it’s pretty obvious that doing it is the only way to make everyone leave him alone so he can sleep off his hangover.

Mechanically, Hector: Badge of Carnage is very simple. One click examines an object while two clicks interacts with it in appropriate fashion, and two items can be combined or used together simply by clicking on one and then the other. That’s all there is to it, and it’s actually a very elegant approach that maximizes the transparency of the interface and ensures that the focus is entirely on the game.

The game itself is a very straightforward adventure, packed with plenty of dialog and numerous “use this on that” puzzles. It’s not too terribly difficult, and there’s a very well-designed help system built in that offers everything from gentle hints to a precise, step-by-step walkthrough if you do happen to get stuck. Voice acting is generally very good, although there are one or two segments that sound oddly out of sync with everything else, and the music is a perfect fit for the action.

The overall level of polish is very high, but the real hook is Hector and his colorful lexicon. Terms like “turd nugget,” “butt pube” and “arse biscuit” get tossed around freely, as does a good number of “see you later” cracks aimed at the blind pervert in front of the porn shop. Hector also displays a certain propensity toward violence; at one point he electrocutes a prisoner, slams a car hood down on his head and then drives away, with the still-twitching prisoner dragging alongside. It sounds horrifying but the whole thing is played for laughs and the cartoonish visuals ensure that it comes off as pure slapstick. And believe it or not, it’s not the worst thing you’ll do to get the job done.

It’s not uproarious by any means but there are some rather amusing bits and I laughed out loud when Hector referred to a group of unruly youths as “slack-jawed cob jockeys.” The bottom line is that Hector: Badge of Carnage is aimed squarely at people with a taste for the vulgar, sort of a latter-day Leisure Suit Larry without the soft heart and charm that made Larry such an endearing character. That’s not to say that Hector doesn’t have a certain appeal of his own, just that he’s a little less refined. Okay, a lot less refined, but if that’s your cup of tea then a romp around town with the good Inspector might very well be a fun way to spend an afternoon.