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Crime Stories
Crime Stories
Developer:Artematica Entertainment
Publisher:The Adventure Company
Release Date:April 2006
Article Posted:May 2006
System Requirements

Crime Stories is a game based upon the Martin Mystère graphic novels. Crime Stories is a point and click mystery game played from a third-person perspective. The game was developed by Artematica Entertainment. [Editorial Note: Just in case there is any confusion left in this matter, Crime Stories was originally released in Europe in 2005. The original title of the game was Martin Mystère: Operation Dorian Gray]

Crime Stories begins with Martin waking up to a ringing telephone. Upon answering the phone the detective finds out that there has been a murder. Travis is calling to enlist Martin’s help in the investigation. Your first set of tasks comprises Act 1. You need to get dressed, get your car, your cell phone, and a map. This involves a fair amount of searching around the house and the introduction of Java. Java is a friend/housekeeper. There is a bit of brief dialog explaining his role in Martin’s life. Java mainly grunts and is unhelpful. He looks rather like a Neanderthal. [Editorial note: As fans of the comic would have already realized from Suz’s remarks, the depiction of Java in Crime Stories does not necessarily stay true to the comic books.]

Crime Stories is designed as a series of acts. The game features a total of eight acts. This structure does occasionally become frustrating when players are required to find the one little piece that allows you to progress to the next act. What you need to do in order to proceed is not always very clear. The problem is made worse due to the way the game’s interface is setup. You use a mouse cursor to explore your environment. The descriptions for what you see appear at the very bottom of the screen. Sometimes there are verbal description of what you are seeing and sometimes not. So as you’re pixel hunting, you need to keeping looking down to see if there are any changes. This structure is awkward and keeps you from being immersed in the game. You also need to use the left mouse button to change the cursor from the magnifying glass to the hand or speak cursors. This control structure can take a little getting used to.

There are eight save slots. The game is saved with a picture and labeled with the act number. Since you can revisit the same area many times in different acts, it might have been better display the save games with a time stamp or allow the player to label them. You can end up with multiples saves with the same picture and Act label, but different content.

With a few notable exceptions during the later parts of the game, Crime Stories is basically an inventory-based puzzle and dialog driven game. It is worth noting that there is inconsistency on how items in the inventory are used. Sometimes you need to select inventory items in order to use them. Yet at other times the game automatically uses them. The non-inventory-based puzzles are not terribly difficult. They also do not seem to fit the flow of the game.

The graphics and music are well done and quite detailed and beautiful. The settings are very detailed with much too look at. However the consistency in labeling is not very good. For instance, an animal in the game is labeled as a monkey or lemur depending on the camera angle. In another case the large statue outside the estate is labeled as a police car, I don’t think so! The camera angles can also make it very difficult to see items. This is particularly true in the Professor’s rooms in Mexico.

The voice acting might be good, but it is hard to say because the dialog itself is horrible. The dialog is cut up to fit the subtitles which makes it choppy and hard on the ear. Spaces are filled with Ah and Um’s that are unnecessary and sound really bad. My suggestion is left click as quickly as possible through those sections.

My conclusion is that Crime Stories might have been a good game, but it is not well constructed. The graphics and music are wonderful, but it is hard to get past the problems in other areas. I would call it a bargain bin purchase.

Final grade is 74/100.


PC System Requirements:
Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP
Pentium® III 850 MHz
256 MB RAM
32 MB DirectX® 9 Compatible Video Card
DirectX® 9 Compatible Soundcard
16x CD-ROM Drive
Keyboard, mouse, speakers