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Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Gamecock
Developer: Crackpot Entertainment


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NDS Review - 'Insecticide'

by Chris Lawton on April 27, 2008 @ 6:53 a.m. PDT

Insecticide is a hard-boiled, fast-shooting detective game set in a festering future city where bugs have evolved as the planet’s dominant race. A murder at a powerful company leads police from the Insecticide Squad on a bug hunt through the city’s seedy underbelly, and into a mystery of epic proportions.

Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Gamecock Media Group
Developer: Crackpot Entertainment
Release Date: March 13, 2008

DS City, my city, is tougher than a two-dollar steak. It always seems to be raining, and not just any rain; I can take normal rain, but this is a heavy, wet rain that constantly makes you depressed. I'm a detective. They call me the best in the business. I'm still alive, and I guess that's got to count for something. It was a heavier storm than usual when Insecticide entered my office. I took the case, of course. Times were tight, and I needed the funds, but God knows what kind of trouble I was asking for.

Things started out easy enough. Insecticide told me her story. She came from a world in which bugs had become the dominant species and humans, or hominids, had been forced to live underground because they're allergic to the air around them. She represented two detectives on the Insecticide Division of the Troi Police Department. Their city was full of crime, and these two guys had gotten themselves in something deep. From what I could tell, it all began when they went to investigate a murder at Nectorola, a multi-million dollar soft drink corporation, and from there, the twists and turns kept coming, leading the two detectives deeper and deeper.

I was intrigued by the story Insecticide was spinning. It seemed to be the stuff of which classic detective-pulp stories were made. On top of that, she was funny. She spoke with wit, and her speech was filled with puns that kept me laughing throughout the night. It seemed like all she had to say was filled with bug references and jokes. What's more, the meat of her story really gripped me. I knew then that I had to help her; I wanted to help her. The nights with Insecticide were great, but I had no clue how bad things could get in an instant.

Insecticide was a two-faced dame. Half of the time, she was real sweet. At certain points during the case, we'd get the chance to get our hands real dirty with some classic investigation. She presented plenty of puzzles and clues for me to find, which almost always seemed logical. Witnesses were also present, which gave me plenty of opportunities to deduce facts and solve little mysteries throughout the case. During the investigations, Insecticide and I were a perfect team. Occasionally, our investigation would hit a minor hiccup with a puzzle that didn't make a whole lot of sense, but those were few and far between, and for the most part, the investigation portion of the case was incredible.

But, it always seemed like when we'd finish the investigation part, Insecticide would change and become a whole different person. These scenarios usually included chasing perps across rooftops, jumping from platform to platform, and shooting any bad guys that got in our way. Unfortunately, when we entered these sections of the case, the mood changed from great to disappointing.

Insecticide represented everything I hate about this business. She was slow when she ran, and her controls almost always seemed sloppy. By default, Insecticide used the d-pad and buttons to control her movements, which created more problems than one could imagine. For starters, she couldn't do anything quickly. She took forever to turn, and while she was doing it, she couldn't move forward. If an enemy was behind her, he'd easily get two or three shots in before she was even looking at him.

And her controls were loose — real loose. Many times, the case required us to be super-precise in our movements, such as when we'd have to walk across a thin wire and do a balancing act, but Insecticide never seemed to control tight enough to make it across the wire without falling off. If there were enemies shooting at us, it was even harder.

Speaking of shootouts, they were a real mess. By pressing one of her buttons, Insecticide would lock on to the enemy, allowing us to take shots directly at them, but it almost never worked well, leading us to miss many of our shots. When foes took shots at us, they almost always connected, which made this case seem more and more frustrating as time went by. While locked on, we could circle around enemies, take shots at them, and dodge any slugs they sent our way. When the enemy died, though, our lock would drop, leading us to turn very, very slowly while taking shots from any other enemies in the room.

Insecticide could change things up by switching to stylus-only play, which worked significantly better than the d-pad and allowed for more aiming precision in our shots. However, it also made a few of the extra controls, such a jumping, a little tougher. Since so many of our chases involved platform-jumping, this option also presented plenty of problems.

These action sequences were also hampered by numerous technical problems as well. Insecticide would often be hit by enemies and objects that were nowhere near her. Sometimes, she would be hit while taking cover behind a solid wall, and a few times, she would miss platforms because she wouldn't look down while jumping, which would have allowed her to aim her landing. All in all, anytime the case took us away from the investigation into the action scenes, Insecticide fell apart, leaving me with nothing but a broken system that felt rushed.

Fortunately, Insecticide, was pretty to look at. In-game, she presented some very nice 3-D visuals that were some of the best I'd seen around DS City. Her movies looked even better, making the story really come alive when she told it. It was an excellent addition to a great story.

She wasn't bad on the ears, either. It seemed like everywhere we went, music followed us to set the mood, and it wasn't your run-of-the-mill stuff, either. The terrific music really captured the setting and visuals, but the music seemed rushed, like other things in the case, often stopping and leaving you in silence for a jarring moment while the track restarted again. It seemed that it'd be much easier to write the music in such a way that it would just loop, but what do I know? I'm just a detective trying to solve a case.

I tell you what, when Insecticide was telling her story, I could hear some terrific voices for each character. These voices, like the visuals, really complemented the story and made it even better. Insecticide may have given me a frustrating case when it came to a lot of the action scenes, but she almost made up for it with the story and the presentation. I truly felt like this case was going to be a big one, and it kept me wrapped around its finger until the credits rolled.

That didn't take too long, though. I'd worked a lot of cases in my years, but this one seemed shorter than usual. It only took me about six hours to solve the case, and after that, Insecticide left me hanging with nothing else to do. There were a few little things in the case I could have collected if I went through it again, but there's really no reward for that. Truth be told, many of the action sequences were so frustrating that it might be best to let this affair go and avoid revisiting past pain.

My adventures with Insecticide were a bit of a letdown. The dame drove me crazy, like most dames do. She threw a terrific story my way, complete with excellent visuals and sound. While we were collecting clues and investigating the case, she was a lot of fun, but once the investigation stopped and the action started, she turned on me, leaving my heart cut open like a gutted fish. Was it worth it? Well, with dames, you can never really tell, but let me give you some advice: If Insecticide ever enters your office looking for help, be prepared for a lot of frustration. If you persevere, though, you might just find some of the gems that Insecticide is hiding.

Score: 7.0/10

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