Tex Murphy is perhaps one of the best examples on how Full Motion Video
and adventure gaming
can be married in a way that's both high quality
, high profile
, and damned fucking entertaining
. Where the FMV
doesn't detract, but rather ADDS to the experience
To this day, Tex Murphy has appeared in the following games, all created and published by Access Software:
Mean Streets - 1989 - designed by Chris Jones and Bruce Carver
One of the first games to use the MCGA (later the VGA) graphics mode. It also featured digitized actors, which was a pretty new concept at the time. Not only that, but it also took advantage of Access' ability to make the lowly PC speaker in your computer utter digitized speech and music, in the pre-Sound Blaster days. Compare to other games of that era, say, Space Quest 3.
Martian Memorandum - 1991 - designed by Chris Jones and Bruce Carver
In an era where VGA graphics had become commonplace, and digitized characters were still innovative but more commonplace, Access topped everybody else again. Martian Memorandum only came on disks, but still featured full motion video with real actors in key interrogation scenes. The interrogation scenes are also infamous for being convoluted, and can get you stuck for saying the slightest thing wrong. (A certain date sequence springs to mind.)
Under a Killing Moon - 1994 - designed by Aaron Conners (also screenplay) and Chris Jones
Arguably the most famous Tex Murphy adventure to date. Under a Killing Moon was the first game to ever use more than two CD's (closely followed by Wing Commander III). Not only was everything FMV (and nicely done, too), but it also pioneered what is arguably one of the best game interfaces in gaming history. All locations were in full (NOT pre-rendered) 3D mode, well before the advent of 3D accelerators, which you could explore in detail. Anybody who has ever spent over 30 minutes looking for the damn key in the conference room or the geigger chow in Ching's study will know what I mean.
The Pandora Directive - 1996 - designed by Aaron Conners (also screenplay) and Chris Jones
At a time where FMV games were taking a lot of heat for detracting from the story line (and, let's face it, with games like Phantasmagoria out there, who can blame 'em), Access decided to prove everyone wrong. The gameplay and interface hasn't changed from UAKM, only improved. Pandora Directive was famous for not only being an exceptionally long game, but for also having six different endings (the legendary seventh is a hoax) and two different skill levels.
Overseer - 1999 - designed by Aaron Conners (also screenplay) and Chris Jones, based on Mean Streets design
Overseer was partly commisioned by Intel, who wanted a game to show off their new technologies. With a limited time to complete the project, Overseer came out with just under a year of development. The big seller this time was that Overseer had been specifically engineered around DVD-ROM, and the 5 CD-ROMs that accompanied the shiny DVD disk contained a severely degraded quality version of the game (using 256-color Smacker videos, no less). The game is basically a re-telling of Mean Streets, but it was to be the first in a trilogy of Tex games, which never came to pass.
Unfortunately, the Tex Murphy series died a slow death after Access Software was purchased by Microsoft. Microsoft apparently did this to gain control over Access' very succesful golf simulator, Links, which up until that point had actually managed to best Microsoft's own offering - not only with accuracy, but also in sales figures - something that our dear friend Bill just couldn't tolerate. It also, unfortunately, meant the virtual death of everybody's favorite 21st century P.I.