The Pandora Directive (1996) is an adventure game for the PC. It takes place in the world of Tex Murphy, hero of Mean Streets, Martian Memorandum, Under a Killing Moon, and Tex Murphy: Overseer. After its creators reacquired the rights to the series, it was re-released on Good Old Games on July 2, 2009.
Like all Tex Murphy games, The Pandora Directive takes place in post-World War III San Francisco in April 2043. After the devastating events of WWIII, many major cities have been rebuilt (as is the case with New San Francisco), though certain areas still remain as they were before the war (as in Old San Francisco). WWIII also left another mark on the world: the formation of two classes of citizens. Specifically, the Mutants and the Norms. After the events of Under a Killing Moon, tensions between the two groups have begun to diminish. The end to the Crusade for Genetic Purity was a turning point in the relations between Mutants and "Norms". Tex still lives on Chandler Ave., which recently underwent a city-funded cleanup. The events of WWIII still left the planet with no ozone layer, and to protect their citizens many countries adopted a time reversal. Instead of sleeping at night, and being awake in the day, humans have become nocturnal, in a manner of speaking. Though Tex lives in what is considered a Mutant area of town, he himself is a "Norm".
In The Pandora Directive, Tex (Chris Jones) is hired by Gordon Fitzpatrick (Kevin McCarthy) to find his friend, Thomas Malloy (John Agar). Tex quickly discovers that Fitzpatrick is not the only one who is looking for Malloy and finds himself dragged into a dangerous situation. With few he can trust, Tex must try and unravel the mystery surrounding Malloy, and along the way he'll learn the devastating truth behind the greatest government conspiracy of all time. The game has a large cast of characters ranging from the deranged to deadly. Several well-known actors starred, including Barry Corbin and Tanya Roberts.
The Pandora Directive is the second game in the Tex Murphy series to use virtual world technology. Using their own 3D engine, Access Software developed a 3D world that the player could fully explore - something very rarely seen in adventure games of its time. In this virtual world, the player controls Tex searching for clues that will lead the player to find Thomas Malloy. Instead of providing the player with a list of responses showing the exact words that Tex will say, as was customary in adventure games, only descriptions (often humorous in themselves) of the responses are given.
The Pandora Directive was one of the first games on the market to take interactivity to the next level by offering multiple game narratives and endings. The player could take Tex down "Mission Street" where he takes the high road and wins the love of his long time crush, Chelsee Bando. Mission Street has three possible endings. Down "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", Tex is a selfish and cynical jerk worrying only about the big payoff. Boulevard of Broken Dreams leads to four possible endings. If the player chooses neither path, Tex will go down "Lombard Street". On this path, he's not really a nice guy, but he's not mean either. Lombard Street leads to two possible endings, both of which are common to Mission Street. The "best" Mission Street ending is an Easter Egg in that two conversation paths have to be followed exactly earlier in the game.
The Pandora Directive provided two difficulty settings, Entertainment and Game Players mode. On Entertainment, hints were available and the player could bypass certain puzzles if the player so chose. Some minor objects and video scenes were available on this setting that were not available on Game Players mode. A total of 1500 points were available on Entertainment mode. On Game Players mode, no hints were available and puzzles could not be bypassed. Bonus points were available to those who solved certain puzzles in an allotted time or within a certain number of moves. In addition to this, extra in game locations and puzzles were available on Game Players mode that weren't available on Entertainment mode, making for a more challenging game playing experience. A total of 4000 points were available on Game Players mode.