Crime Stories Review (PC)

Unfortunately the biggest crime in Crime Stories has little to do with the death of Professor Eulemberg and more to do with the time it robs from people playing it.  I know that comes across as harsh, but this latest crime solving adventure from Adventure Company really leaves a lot to be desired.  All in all it ends up being bland, using traditional tricks of the point and click adventure genre, but using them badly.

Seriously, what professor drives one of these? Yet another exotic investigative location

The basic plot line for Crime Stories is faintly interesting, but full of logical holes that a large truck could be rammed through.  You play Martin Mystere, a mysterious professor of...something, no one ever comes right out and explains what his specialty is.  We find out very quickly that whatever it is he does he's getting paid very well for it, considering he has his own Neanderthal butler, a very nice home and a car that is unlike anything that any of my college professors ever drove.  Also whatever it is that Martin does it's apparently a nifty enough job that the police call him for consultation and assistance in select cases including the murder of another professor by the name of  Eulemberg.  The ins and outs of the search for  Eulemberg's murder which ties into the ancient Aztecs and death rituals is then the plotline for the entirety of the game.

The tutorial for the game starts pretty much when the game does.  Martin, very stereotypically, wakes up to a ringing phone.  Once he's finished on the phone he tries to get dressed and ready for his day only to find that his lovely wife has locked the wardrobe.  Why ANYONE would lock their wardrobe is well beyond me, but it seems that she's done just that.  As our hero cannot solve crimes in his pretty maroon pajamas the key must be found wherever the Missus put it.  So your first job as a player is to learn to pixel hunt in the search for the key.  Added to this little problem is the fact the very expensive looking car is in the shop and Martin managed to lose the number for the mechanic.  Said number was written down on a ripped piece of paper.  Who knows where the other half of the paper is?  So we're off to do more pixel hunting until both the key and the paper are found so Martin can start his heroic career dressed and with wheels.

Unfortunately this pattern of pixel hunting for important objects continues through the entire game and, much more damning, a good part of the stuff you can click on is neither helpful or interesting.  Instead it just gives Martin an excuse to prattle along for a while, which gets more and more annoying as the game progresses.  He has commentary about everything and rarely does his commentary let you know if you've actually found proper evidence or just a book that he personally finds interesting.  As a protagonist Martin is not likable, and about half way through the game I was hoping that he was going to be the next murder victim just so he'd shut up.

Who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?
We have no idea what it is, but bones are cool

The investigation itself has some interesting moments and takes you to various locals around the globe.  Some of these, like the Aztec temple are unique and bring a fantastic element to the storyline, which is actually helpful in granting the moments that are the most enjoyable.  The downside is the number of swapping up games that you end up having to play.  There are several instances where you are told to get an item, for example a ticket for entry into a club, which requires talking to one person.  This person wants a book, so you get that for them.  Then they give you the ticket which doesn't actually work when you take it to the club and you have to forge one instead, yet another weird skill that pops up from no where, and finally you can get inside.  In all of this swapping back and forth you don't really learn much except for the point and click path between your house and the other locations in the game.  Eventually, with enough pixel hunting, you'll pick up all of the pieces that you need in the investigation which will lead you to the best twists in the game, though they feel like too little too late.

There is some puzzle work in this game, but most of it is fairly straight forward.  The majority of the answers are provided in the dialog, if you can find them within the rambling, or by clues in the area.  I actually wanted to see more challenging puzzles since the rest of the investigative work was mostly a matter of collecting random bits and pieces and hauling them around to see if they were every useful.

As far as graphic and sound work these were, again, areas where I was disappointed.  Some of the background scenery is okay and has nice delusions of grandeur, but bad lighting choices and fuzzy pixelation tends to take away from what could be very nice work.  The characters move badly, jerking around from frame to frame and the detailing is off or just not present.  As well there are problems with how the characters interact.  At several points Martin will talk to someone who he isn't facing unless you approach them just right.  The number of typos in the text also became a problem as the game went on.  In a lot of games it just doesn't matter as much, but in a point and click adventure the text is vital to understanding what's going on and the typos get old, quickly.  Most damning for this game was the sound, which was lousy.  The character voices seem to be coded to the words as they appear on the screen.  This means that in long dialogs the characters will pause to allow a new set of text to appear on the screen before they continue again, making them stutter like a bad actor.

Click, here, here, here, here, anywhere... By jove it'

All in all I can't say that I enjoyed my experience with Crime Stories and was very glad when my visit with Martin Mystere came to an end.

Top Game Moment: Realizing that the only really cool professor adventurer is Indiana Jones.

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