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Unsolved Crimes

Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Developer: Now Production

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NDS Preview - 'Unsolved Crimes'

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 13, 2008 @ 5:29 p.m. PDT

In Unsolved Crimes, players will take the role of a rookie detective as part of the New York police department homicide division. An aspiring model, Betsy Blake, has disappeared and a social outcast and loner is the prime suspect. The case is a lot deeper than it appears on the surface. Crime is rampant in the city and Blake's disappearance is the latest in a frightening series of events that are slowly bringing New York to its knees. The local police department is having a hard time cracking the case and Blake's safe return lies in the detectives hands to solve the mystery before it's too late.

Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Developer: Now Pro
Release Date: September 23, 2008

The adventure genre had its heyday on the PC, but a few developers have recently noticed that the Nintendo DS' stylus and touch-screen work exceedingly well for a point-and-click romp. Slower paced than a typical action game, graphic adventures typically rely more on solving puzzles than on pressing a button really fast. Empire Interactive stopped by to give us a preview of its new graphic adventure, Unsolved Crimes, which is set for release this month.

Set in New York City in the mid-'70s, Unsolved Crimes drops you into the role of a detective, newly assigned to the homicide division. The city has been racked with a series of unsolved crimes, and an aspiring model has just been kidnapped. Not only do you need to solve each of the individual murder cases, but you also have to discover the common thread tying them together to have any hope of saving the model before she becomes another statistic.

Each case in the game is broken into four major parts: a briefing, investigation, query section and case wrap-up. The briefing occurs at the station and gives you an overview of the suspects and initial evidence. The investigation portion of the case is on-site, and where the majority of play will take place. Here is where you are given the ability to freely look around and search for clues.

The query section is intertwined with the investigation portion of Unsolved Crimes. As you discover key pieces of evidence, your partner will ask a series of questions to ensure you are on the right track. Answer the questions correctly, and you will progress with the investigation. Make too many mistakes, and it's game over. Back at the station house, the wrap-up has you presenting a summary of the case to the Chief in order to close the case file.

In order to allow for maximum freedom during the investigation sections of the game, every environment is rendered in 3-D. You explore by using the d-pad and the four face buttons in tandem. The face buttons are used to approximate a second d-pad. If you see an item of interest, just tap on it with the stylus. Your partner will let you know if it is worth checking out or something you should ignore.

Mixing things up a bit, the game drops a few basic action sequences into the cases. These are simple affairs and don't require mad button-mashing skills, but do provide some variety. One example that we saw was a car chase. As a suspect was escaping, we had to chase him through the back alleys of the city. Car control was elementary, making it perfect for the casual crowd. It was impossible to go off the road, and the only real challenge was avoiding major obstacles.

After playing around with Unsolved Crimes, our initial impression is favorable. It's not going to attract the hardcore crowd, but it should appeal to both fans of the adventure genre as well as casual players who just can't get enough of crime dramas like "CSI" and "Law & Order." Assuming the level of writing stays consistent and the puzzles keep to a sense of logic throughout, Unsolved Crimes will make a good little time-waster. Look for our full review when the game ships later this month.


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