Crime Lab- Body of Evidence - Review

Crime Lab- Body of Evidence
Rating: T - Teen

Nicole Bonnet of the FBI is called in to investigate an apparent accidental death of a psychiatrist who had ties to the FBI, and picks up a strange box at the death scene. Although the police have listed the death as accidental, she is not sure. Back to the office, to examine the box, where she is presented with, among other things, a brief page on serial killers. SAY WHAT? One dead person does not make a serial murder, but of course, more are on the way.

This DS title is a rework of "The Art of Murder - Cards of Destiny" for the PC (reviewed here in March 2010). Although similar, the two stories and the gameplay are not identical.

You play as Nicole as she goes from murder scene to murder scene, collecting evidence and clues, bringing them to the lab for analysis, talking to her boss at FBI headquarters, going to other locations to interview suspects. The graphics are good, the tinkly background music not annoying if set to your preferred volume, and the scene navigation works. The full scene is shown in the upper screen, and a section (one-fourth of the full scene) is outlined and shown in the entire lower screen for greater detail.

This pretty much plays as a point-and-click adventure, except that you are often given lists of object to find in the scene - in search-and-find style. Usually one or more objects are then needed to further the action - pry something open, cut a wire, pick up a clue, whatever. Often you will wind up with a puzzle to be solved or a mini-game to be played. Since I play these at the easiest settings (there are three levels available in this game) the hint system can come into play here. You are allowed an infinite number of hints, but when you get one, the hint icon greys out and it takes a minute or two to reactivate. Most of the hints give you a brief shower of stars around the area you need to direct your attention to next - such as the object you can't find or the entrance to another place.

It is in the game mechanics where this game falters. The mini-games are usually timed, and if you fail at them enough, a screen will appear offering to let you go on anyway in exchange for points that you have accumulated. I have had to use this a few times, because some of the games are downright incomprehensible. There is one which comes into play when you put something into the analyzer at the crime lab. The directions make no sense whatsoever, and I have never been able to figure out what to do. Forutunately 5000 points will buy me out, and I don't really care how many points I get, anyway.

Sometimes, after you have found all the objects you are supposed to find, you will discover that you don't know what to do next. Going to the PDA (which can show you a map of the 'city' and places that you can travel to) can be a dead end - the game is so linear that the only sites shown on the PDA map are the next ones in the story. If you aren't done where you are, you can't go anywhere - helpful in a way. As a matter of fact, it is rarely the case that you have a choice of destinations - mostly you can stay put or go to only one other location, so this game has virtually no wandering or exploration. Time for the help again. I ran into a situation where I had to press one of four colored buttons on a ticket vending machine and then enter a two-digit destination. The hints given were so cryptic that there was nothing else I could do but try every possible number, in sequence, till I hit the one that worked. Until that time I was trapped at the location.

In playing computer games you can run into a puzzle that you just can't solve, and when you get the answer you say to yourself, "Well, OK. I wouldn't have figured that one out, but I see what you have in mind." In this case, when I finally hit the correct number, I went back to whatever clues were lying around, and it still made no sense. I have no idea how anyone would figure it out. Luckily, being obsessive compulsive, I just slogged through all possible two digit numbers till I hit the correct one.

The actual story is interesting and compelling enough for me to continue playing (I am up to Chapter 7 of this 10 Chapter game), but there are odd story jumps and a senior woman official in the FBI office who seems to 'have it in' for Nicole which makes me think that there is some sort of back story that they forgot to give us. Because of the hint system and the linearity, I do expect to finish the game, and you would too.

Since there is no way to wander around, and the game does not keep a 'dairy' like Nancy Drew does, you might want to take notes as you go, because you cannot review the past, and objects you may have gotten get used up and vanish. This lack of information may tax you a bit when you are faced with periodic questioning by your boss and don't remember, for instance, exactly which playing card was found with which victim. If you have a DSi, some of the puzzles will make use of the camera

Fun Factor: Reasonable story, puzzles and mini-games uneven.
Female Factor: You play as Nicole.
Player Friendly: Only one save slot (clearly shown) as 'Save and Quit' in the Pause screen when you press Start.

Reviewed by: Lou - Nov/10

  • Crime Lab- Body of Evidence
  • © City Interactive
  • Platform(s): DS DSi
  • To Order: DS $19.99
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