Blade Runner is a Westwood Studios PC game loosely based on the 1982 movie of the same name. Released in 1997, the game was advertised as "the first real-time adventure game". The story featured "Blade Runner" Ray McCoy searching for replicants in Los Angeles, California in the year 2019.
While it was generally agreed that the game's graphics and sound (music composed by Frank Klepacki) succeeded in adapting the cult film's haunting atmosphere, the designers' attempt at innovating gameplay such as simplifying the interface, adding action elements, replacing a traditional inventory with a database of clues, randomization of some events as well as multiple endings were given mixed reviews.
Background and Plotline Edit
The Blade Runner video game is based on the 1982 movie of the same name. The game is set not long after the beginning of the movie (we can see this as Tyrell hasn't been killed yet, as well as many more minor plot details, such as Holden having been attacked and taken out of commission and, in an optional meeting with Tyrell, the mention of Tyrell being in a meeting with Deckard earlier that day), in November of 2019. Our protagonist, Ray McCoy, is a rookie Bladerunner under command of Guzza, a police officer of superior rank. True to the film, the environment is similar, a dystopian, heavily polluted Los Angeles, brought to life by the fledgling 3D Real Time technology of the day. Also included are some landmarks from the movie, such as the dominating Tyrell pyramid structures.
McCoy is faced with the task of tracking down a group of replicants and "retiring" (killing) them. The game is unique to the point and click genre in that it begins in a highly complicated fashion, and continues that way until the game's conclusions. You progress through a number of crime scenes, in which you must gather evidence, this is a matter of being highly observant of surroundings as well as using techniques typical of detectives. The clues gathered are all kept in the KIA database ingame.
- McCoy hunts down the replicants
- McCoy sides with the other replicants
- McCoy's sides with neither; he leaves the city
- With Crystal
- With Lucy.
The Blade Runner video game is notable for its accurate, even lovingly imitated environments, and for remaining quite true to Philip K Dick's novel. The game is in some ways even truer to the book, in that Ray McCoy is more troubled by his identity than the film version of Deckard - much like the book's version of said character. Ray laments through a character named Lucy, who faces a similar dilemma; the theme is carried further by the many choices the player can make for Ray, which determine his eventual fate. Unusually for games of that era, Blade Runner has full voice acting for all dialogue. Puzzle solving is a major element of the game: one must solve a number of compulsory puzzles and find a number of clues in order to progress the game's storyline.
Clues are found by searching crime scenes and areas in general, the first such scene being a trashed pet shop. Clues come in the form of items, photographs, personal interviews or unusual markings. One can also use the ESPER system, located in the police precinct and in McCoy's apartment, to enhance photos, potentially finding some crucial information. Blade Runner can become very difficult as it requires some deductive skills to solve the difficult puzzles.
Combat in Blade Runner is occasional and extremely simplistic. There is one weapon in the game; Ray's standard issue police pistol. However different varieties of ammunition are available.
In 1997 when the game was released, Westwood promoted the game's then-unique "Real Time" system, which mainly comprises a series of scripted character paths and events; which should in theory add up to a highly replayable game. The game also includes considerable randomization of certain events, but ultimately these do not have a major effect. The alignment of certain characters (whether they are human or replicant) also varies between playthroughs, and an experienced player can tell what certain characters will be from the evidence collected - e.g. whether McCoy perceives a suspect as an expert or amateur bomber. The game includes four different endings, some of which vary slightly depending on choice. Much akin to Philip K Dick's writing (or many crime novels), the game deceives and confuses the player intermittently, before eventually allowing them to witness Ray's destiny.
Ray McCoy is the game's protagonist and a rookie police officer. McCoy seems younger and more naive than his film counterpart Deckard, having not actually gained Blade Runner status yet. He is instead working towards a promotion to full Blade Runner. He lives with his pet dog Maggie in apartment 88F (there is some obscurity as to whether Maggie herself is artificial or not). McCoy's name may have been partly inspired by the expression "the real McCoy", especially in relation to the game's question of whether Ray is human or a replicant.
Crystal Steele is a colleague of McCoy's; she is a sassy, witty female detective who works alongside McCoy within the Blade Runner unit. She is very much in favour of replicant extermination and appears at various stages in the game depending on the player's actions. She is an excellent marksman, scoring an almost perfect score on the LAPD's gun range. She displays a minor attraction to McCoy, as well as considerable disrespect and condescension. She always calls McCoy "Slim". Her fate in the game is ultimately tied to the player's actions; she can either die (killed by the player or in an explosion set up by Sadik) or survive and pair up with McCoy as he gains the rank of "full Blade Runner" following the retirement of Clovis, the rogue replicants' leader, in the Moonbus.
Gaff is a character originally presented in the film. He is a competent, veteran cop who appears at various intervals to give (somewhat condescending) advice to McCoy, who he seems to see as young and thus unpredictable. He taunts "You killed anyone yet?" in a semi-playful, semi-serious attempt to coax McCoy into a response. He shares Crystal's view on replicants, though to a lesser, more casual extent.
Lieutenant Guzza is the boorish superior to McCoy and overall commander of the Blade Runner unit. He is generally seen in his office for the majority of the game. For the most part, he is bad-tempered; the dire state of the police force in 2019 is expressed through his character; he isn't able to provide McCoy with even petty funds, indicating a decisive shift in social power to the corporations. During the game, Guzza is standing in for Captain Bryant, who is taking sick leave.
Clovis, Sadik, Zuben, Dektora, Luther & Lance (the twins) and Gordo Frizz are the game's replicants. Little emphasis is put on their characters other than their goal to evade retirement and exit Earth on a moonbus. Some are neither aggressive or hateful towards human beings (Clovis & Sadik being the exceptions). The replicants are extremely wary of their status as fugitives. Some of the replicants hold down jobs; Zuben works in a Chinese restaurant's kitchen as a chef, Dektora as a model/exotic dancer, the twins are recently dismissed employees of the Tyrell corporation turned wheeler dealers, mostly in the business of passing artificial animals off as the genuine article; while Gordo Frizz is a comedian. It should be noted that Sadik, Dektora, Gordo and the twins may or may not be replicants, depending on how the plot unfolds. Clovis and Zubin are the only characters in the game who are guaranteed to be replicants on every playthrough, in addition to at least one of their associates.
Lucy is a teenager of about 14 who is unsure and very concerned of whether she is a replicant or a human. The extent to which she can appear in the game depends on the player's actions. If, however she comes to interact with Ray, she grows very fond of him, seeing him as a dependable figure. As with the other characters mentioned above, Lucy is randomly determined to be a replicant or not at the start of each new game.
Tyrell is another character originally presented in the film, the CEO of the Tyrell corporation. His character is for the most part that of an astute, consummate businessman; he has geniune drive for achievement through his firm. As he is not yet deceased, one assumes the game is set shortly after the beginning of the film. Tyrell owns an artificial owl, which are very rare as owls were one of the first species to become extinct following World War III. Rachel is Tyrell's secretary, and as with Rachel in the film, is a replicant who mimics humanity extremely well, she is modeled after Tyrell's niece. She is very attractive, well spoken and brusque, and appears only briefly within the game. As she has not yet paired with Deckard, again one assumes the game is set shortly after the beginning of the movie. Her status as a confirmed replicant is not revealed in the game.
J.F Sebastian is also similar to his film counterpart, a reclusive loner residing in the enormous, bleak and dilapidated Bradbury Building, accompanied only by his eerie robotic puppet. He owns several futuristic devices, such as a synthetic egg creator. He is one of the chief scientists who assisted in the creation of the Nexus 6 replicant models.
Chew is another scientist who assisted the Tyrell corporation in the creation of replicants, unlike J.F Sebastian, his speciality is eyes. He is much like the Chew we see in the motion picture; highly intelligent, but at the same time a wary, eccentric and cautious person. He conducts his work in a small laboratory opposite the twins' apartment.
Bryant is the police captain of the precinct, but is supposedly absent from the game due to sick leave. His stand in is Lieutenant Guzza.
Izo is a gun dealer of seemingly Asian descent specializing in the dealing of rare, high specification automatic guns. He supplies these weapons to the replicants in addition to firearms obtained by Lieutenant Guzza. Depending on how the plot unfolds, Izo may or may not be a replicant himself. In the former scenario, he was a member of a fledgling replicant sympathizer group prior to becoming a felon. In the latter, he came to Earth with Clovis on the Moonbus.
Bob is a grizzled veteran of World War III (which appears to have been a pivotal event a decade or so prior to 2019). He mentions that he served for around three and a half years. He owns the gunshop across the street from Animoid Row, and appears to be suffering from some physical disabilities. He appears to despise replicants even more than Crystal, though when a Voight-Kampff test is administered his result is almost always inconclusive, though when he receives a positive result it is practically always human. Bob is the only character with whom tampering with the Voight-Kampff test can alter the result, allowing the player to decide whether he is human or replicant and therefore whether he can be killed by the player without any fear of repercussion.
Other more minor characters include the police station cops, whom you may interact with at certain crime scenes. The precinct's forensic examiner named Klein. The elderly couple selling grilled tofu-like food on Animoid row. Howie Lee, the owner of a restaurant bearing his name in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles. The various storekeepers seen throughout the game, and "Crazy Legs Larry" a quick talking, paraplegic car salesman and the owner of a car salesroom on Animoid row.
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