HECTOR: Ep2 – Senseless Acts of Justice
Ballbags! Detective Inspector Hector, the hard-bitten, rough-edged lawman from Clappers Wreake is back for more in Badge of Carnage Episode Two: Senseless Acts of Justice, turning his foul mouth, surly disposition and wanton indifference to the sanctity of human life to the task of figuring out who's terrorizing his wretched, beloved city and putting a stop to it once and for all. It's a crude, lewd and outrageously offensive point-and-click cartoon cop story and for those with a taste for it, it's an absolute pot of comedy gold.
Pop quiz, hotshot: do you know what a merkin is? Feel free to look it up if you don't, and then take a moment to consider the inherent comedy value of such a thing. Don't see it? Then you should probably just stop right here and go play something else. But if you think the potential for laughs is obvious, then you need to make a trip to Clappers Wreake, the sleaze-ridden stomping grounds of Detective Inspector Hector.
If you've played the first Badge of Carnage episode, <a href="http://www.gamezebo.com/games/hector-badge-carnage-ep1">We Negotiate With Terrorists</a>, you'll know exactly what awaits. For those who haven't, it's a very straightforward point-and-click adventure game that follows the exploits of Hector, his hapless partner Lambert and their pursuit of a criminal mastermind who killed 37 successive police negotiators and held the city hostage in part one. The game's comic-book-style visuals are simple but ideal for the cartoonish subject matter and the voice acting is generally excellent, although Hector's accent seems to get a little out of joint now and then. The music is likewise very good, setting the mood while remaining subtle and understated, and the interface is simple but effective and a real pleasure to use, requiring just a single click of the mouse to examine an object, a double-click to interact with it or a single click on two separate objects to combine them.
As far as adventure games go, Senseless Acts of Justice is pretty easy stuff. Items are collected and then used in fairly obvious fashions and there are some fun puzzles to be solved, but it's generally quite simple and the game really does its best to keep things moving ahead. If you do get stumped, Lambert can give you a gentle nudge in the right direction and if that's not enough a full-blown hint system will provide more precise clues and even spell things out for you, although not without ridiculing you for it first. It's very conventional, meat-and-potatoes adventuring with a relatively low level of difficulty, which in some ways is a plus because it doesn't get in the way of the story or humor. But in pure gameplay terms, it's entirely unremarkable.
Yet the game as a whole is anything but unremarkable. Hector is the most cynical, world-weary cop in the city, and possibly on the planet. He's surrounded by a bizarre cast of characters who in his eyes have been put on this planet for no other reason than to irritate him, and it's made him the ultimate "ends justify the means" kind of guy. At one point he expresses regret over some of the things he's done in pursuit of his quarry, not because they were monstrously wrong - and they were - but because it all turned out to be kind of a waste of time. I don't want to put out any spoilers but at one point during Senseless Acts of Justice, Hector burns down a church - and that's not the worst thing he does over the course of the game.
Senseless Acts of Justice is longer than its predecessor and feels a little slower out of the gate. There's a segment early on in which you'll have to play as both Hector and Lambert, switching between the two several times, but without the clever dialog or earthy cursing it tends to drag a bit. But by the midway point, when the various plot lines start to come together and Hector has built up a full head of steam, the hilarity blasts off way above and beyond that of the original. You'll know you've hit the good stuff when Hector lets loose with what may be the most incredibly vile and long-winded invective ever heard in a video game, and a routine involving a phone call to Beef On Demand is brilliantly written, with a denouement that just about killed me. I chuckled several times at the first episode; this one had me laughing so hard I was crying.
Of course, comedy is entirely subjective and what had me rolling on the floor might (okay, probably will) leave others deeply offended. To be clear, there's no actual swearing or sexual content anywhere in the game, and the violence is pure Elmer Fudd. I would have no hesitation letting a 12-year-old play it, largely because that's about the level of sophistication of the game's humor. It's juvenile, rude, silly, and it also happens to be the funniest video game I've played in years. It's not for prudes or serious adventurers looking for a brain-busting challenge, but if you're the kind of person who can't say no whenever someone says "pull my finger," then Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode Two: Senseless Acts of Justice is definitely the game for you.
- Smart, sharp dialog and some wickedly funny bits.
- Not everybody thinks this stuff is funny.