"Look, prophecies aren't in my job description OK? I'm just a humble PI trying to save the world as we know it."
Tex Murphy, Under a Killing Moon
In 1989, Access Software developed and published Mean Streets,
a noir adventure thriller for several different platforms. The game starred Tex Murphy, who represented the epitome of an old-fashioned, black-and-white noir private detective.
Access would go on to make five games; The sequel to Mean Streets
, Martian Memorandum
(1991), was released strictly for the IBM PC and was not terribly revolutionary. The third game, Under a Killing Moon
(1994), was a whole different ball game: it introduced a 3D virtual world and made extensive use of full motion video cutscenes. The fourth game, The Pandora Directive
(1996), included the same system and was Access' most ambitious effort. Number five, Overseer
(1998), was essentially a replay of Mean Streets,
but brought into the modern video game era with Access' usual movie work.
Tex Murphy's setting is a post-apocalyptic America after World War III
. Tex, a gritty Private Detective
who lives in San Francisco, is genetically resistant to the effects of radiation but lives amongst numerous mutants. He tries to tiptoe along the dangerous fault lines between the world of the mutants and the world of the "norms".
The plots of the five games can generally be summarized thusly: Tex is down on his luck, has no money and is largely reduced to eating dog food. A client appears and offers him a relatively simple job: Find a MacGuffin
, track down my friend, etc. In the course of his investigations, Tex discovers that he is a pawn in a plot to bring about The End of the World as We Know It
. He then saves the world, making sardonic quips along the way.
The final three games were, as mentioned, notable for their "interactive movie" quality. They featured solid writing, sharp acting and some surprising celebrity appearances. (Russell Means, Margot Kidder, James Earl Jones
, Barry Corbin, Tanya Roberts, John Agar, Michael York, Richard Norton, Joe Estevez, Brian Keith and Clint Howard
At least two additional games were planned, but they were spiked when Microsoft bought Access in 1998 and sold it to Take Two Interactive. Take Two eventually shut down Access, apparently killing the Tex Murphy franchise. However, the original developers have since formed Big Finish Games, acquired the rights to the series (via a clever loophole, thanks to the novelizations that series creator Chris Jones had written), and teased fans with the announcement of "Secret Project Fedora". After years of speculation they finally confirmed that Fedora is indeed a new Tex Murphy game, scheduled for release in summer 2013 after a very successful Kickstarter project
In the meantime, you can get the Tex Murphy games at GOG.com
These games contain examples of: