Crime Stories (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, April 22, 2006

Graphics: 7.75
Sound: 5.00
Gameplay: 6.75
Replays: 5.00

Crime Stories is the latest adventure game to come out from The Adventure Company, and it may seem like an odd candidate to be TAC’s latest. After all, the game hit Europe back in September of 2004 and US gamers have finally gotten the title nearly a year and a half later. And while certain elements have been improved over the European release, there are still some bugs that drag the overall experience down.

The game puts you in the shoes of Professor Martin Mystere, who is called on to investigate the murder of a famous scientist. While things start off a bit slow (which seems typical of many adventure games these days), a little ways in the story gets extremely interesting. Although some players may not make it up to that point, those that do will find an enjoyable tale within.

Puzzles in Crime Stories are primarily inventory based, making them a tad bit easier than those of other titles (such as Voyage and Echo). Typically the solutions are fairly logical, and none of them will stump players for too long (adventure veterans may even find the game a tad bit too easy). However, the setup used to manage the inventory and character actions works well. Using the right mouse button, one can choose whether they are going to examine an object, try to take it, or attempt a conversation. Each appropriate action has a different icon when used, making it easy to navigate and use. The inventory itself is also very easy to scroll through, something that some titles in this genre seem to have issues with.

Graphically the game is on par with other titles in the genre, as it uses pre-rendered environments. Although gamers will only find themselves in a handful of locations, everything is nice to look at. There are a few cutscenes here and there, and while they are not top of the line, the scenes fit the style of the game well. If there is one flaw, it would be that animation sometimes seems a little glitchy. Martin has a habit of walking in circles at times even after a hotspot has been clicked, which looks rather awkward. Also, sometimes the camera changes at odd places, making it hard to get exactly what you’re looking for. These aren’t big flaws, but do bring the game down a bit. Overall the look of the game is competent, but still fails to compare to past titles TAC has published (such as Still Life).

Voice acting, particularly in adventure games, always seems to be a hit or miss. Unfortunately, in Crime Stories the acting ranges more on the mediocre side. Martin’s voice is pleasant to listen to, but the actor takes way too many pauses when speaking. This causes the dialog to feel disjointed and unnatural, making the game lose its sense of illusion. Other characters have similar problems, and as with a lot of titles, the secondary characters have laughable voice acting at best. Dialog also seems almost unintentionally cheesy at times. None of this really ruins the story, but it does make it seem a bit more comic than what was probably intended. The background music is sparse, but is pleasant to listen to when there is (it often seems more on the jazzy side in particular areas).

Crime Stories ends up being a fairly forgettable title despite an interesting premise. The gameplay is solid and the puzzles aren’t too hard, but the game takes a little while to get going and is pretty short (it is spread out throughout eight acts). There’s nothing particularly bad about the title, it just fails to be as enticing as some of TAC’s other games. If you’re starved for a new adventure title and don’t mind the bugs, Crime Stories could be worth your time. But for everyone else, skip this one and await what The Adventure Company comes out with next.

Overall Rating: 6.00

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