Police Quest II: The Vengeance Review

Screenshot from Police Quest II
Jessie Bains, archnemesis of Sonny Bonds, seeks revenge in Police Quest II

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Sierra On-Line
  • Publisher: Sierra On-Line
  • Release Date: November 1988
  • Time played: 5 hours

What is it

Every adventure gamer or gamer that played games in the 80s and 90s, would've heard of the company Sierra On-Line and if you played one of their "Quest" games during that period, there's a good chance you would've played one of the Police Quest games.

The first three Police Quest games were designed by Jim Walls, an ex-California Highway Patrolman. He was recruited by CEO of Sierra On-line, Ken Williams, as he was looking for a police officer to assist in the development of a new police adventure game and to ensure it was an authentic experience. Walls agreed and this resulted in 1987's Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel, 1988's Police Quest II: The Vengeance and 1991's Police Quest III: The Kindred. The fourth instalment of Police Quest called Police Quest: Open Season was designed by ex-LAPD Police Chief Daryl F. Gates and released in 1993.

By late 1995, it's reported that the four Police Quest adventure games sold more than 850,000 copies.

The original Police Quest was developed using the older Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI) engine where character movement was performed using the keyboard's arrow keys or Numpad and interacting with the world was done by typing commands into a text parser. 16 colour graphics (aka Enhanced Graphics Adapter or EGA) was standard along with a 160x200 resolution. Police Quest II was one of the earliest Sierra adventures to use the new Sierra Creative Interpreter (SCI) engine which allowed for higher resolution (320x200) graphics, better animations, mouse and sound card support.

Police Quest II follows the exploits of Lytton City police officer Sonny Bonds. In the first Police Quest, Sonny helped lock up a notorious drug lord called Jessie Bains and also hooked up with a childhood sweetheart called Marie Wilkans who he is now dating. Unfortunately, Bains manages to escape from prison and it's now up to Sonny to track him down and bring him to justice.

How I got it

As I played quite a few Sierra adventure games back in the day it only made sense for me to acquire the entire Police Quest collection which I purchased off GOG back in January 2011.

The games sat dormant for a while until recently when Choona suggested I revisit all the Sierra adventure games as part of my Pile of Shame Initiative. I've already reviewed many of my AGI adventures, so I decided it was time to move on to games developed with SCI. After completing Gold Rush! Classic, one of the last Sierra adventures developed using the AGI engine, I decided to try out Police Quest II next.

Screenshot from Police Quest II
You get to meet all sorts in this game

What I like:


We're only talking a matter of 160 pixels but you can definitely notice the difference in resolution between SCI adventures and the AGI adventures of old.


You gotta love the exuberant soundtrack in this game thanks to veteran Sierra composer Mark Seibert: it all would fit perfectly as background music to a 1980s cop show.


There are a couple of cameos in this including the fictional Leisure Suit Larry and the not-so-fictional President of the United States, Donald Trump (back when he was better known as a Manhattan property developer).

Screenshot from Police Quest II
Jim Walls admonishes you for not waiting for the little green man

What I dislike:

Simplistic views on complex issues

After snooping around police personnel files and checking if your colleagues are being investigated by Internal Affairs, you apparently get points in the game for telling your workmate to don't do drugs. He thanks you and decides to book himself in a rehab centre. So, I'm guessing the lesson here is that snooping into the private lives of your co-workers is encouraged and all it takes for drug addicts to break the cycle is for a nosy co-worker to tell them off. Noice.

Also, in what is a borderline ridiculous scene, humble police officer Sonny Bonds manages to take on a couple of Middle Eastern terrorists (who are portrayed as dumb, incompetent brutes from "Bum Aroun" and "Bum Suk" in Egypt) as well as defuse a bomb, saving the lives of everyone aboard the plane. So remember folks, successfully taking on terrorists is as simple as that.

Brutal adherence to police procedures and the law

Just like the first Police Quest, Jim Walls wants to make sure you follow the rules, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Okay, sure, adjusting your pistol sights is probably an important maintenance task but you actually have to do it a couple of times in this game, and while the first time gives you a cue that you've done it right (i.e. the game awards you points) the second time it doesn't.

Also, crossing the road at the airport when the crosswalk light isn't on will result in you being run over by a car and dying. It's almost as bad as not checking your tyres in the original Police Quest...

Critical items that are hard to find

Sometimes items that are critical to your progress aren't easy to find. For example, the field kit that you use to gather evidence at crime scenes is actually off the screen when you're at the police station.

Also, the passwords you require for logging into computers are on a piece of paper on the captain's desk (that's not that easy to spot since there are a lot of papers just lying around the office in general).

The game also requires you to search for things in not-so-obvious places. For example, when arriving at Lytton City Airport, there's no indication that a weapon has been stashed anywhere, nor is there any hint you're supposed to search for it, but if you don't go around randomly looking in toilet bowls, you'll never find it.

Score – 5/10 (Average)

Police Quest II has definitely aged better than its predecessor that was released only a year before it thanks to the improvements to audio and graphics with the introduction of the Sierra Creative Interpreter (SCI) engine. However, like the original game the game is brutal in its adherence to police procedures and law; the game also tends to oversimplify complex issues and critical items are hard to find, making it an even more frustrating experience than the first game (and I didn't think that was even possible).

(I've placed the following disclaimer when reviewing Sierra games before and I'll say it again: before I get burned at the stake by the Sierra fans, I'm trying to judge this game on its own merits, playing it today in 2019. No doubt the game was highly regarded by fans in the 1980s, but nowadays, things have evolved and, in my humble opinion, generally for the better).

Is the game worth $14.59 AUD?: No. Although it really depends if you're an old fan (so you've probably already got a copy anyway) and what price you would put on retro games in general. The $14.59 is not only for Police Quest II though; it also gets you the EGA and VGA versions of Police Quest 1, Police Quest 3 and Police Quest 4: Open Season so when you think of it as $3 per adventure, it doesn't seem as bad.

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[ LINK: Police Quest Collection @ GOG ]