Game Review | Unsolved Crimes (Nintendo DS)

Remember all of the skills you learned from those marathons of CSI New York? Well its finally time to put them to use! You get to use the intuitive observation skills of Gil Grissom and the deductive reasoning skills of Sherlock Holmes as you solve cases as the rookie in the New York Homicide division in 1976. You and your partner Marcy Blake are assigned cases from Captain Abbot, the head of the department. And as if the bodies aren’t enough for this, add in an abducted model (who happens to be Marcy’s sister) and you have Empire Interactive’s Unsolved Crimes.

With this being my first hand held game since Pokémon Yellow for the Gameboy Color, it was an easy introduction game for the DS. While investigating crime scenes, Marcy asks you questions involving the case and you get to choose the correct answer from multiple choice options. Sounds simple right? Well, it is. You have a total of three tries before you get kicked out of the department, with the occasional bonus question to gain an extra “star”. Some of Marcy’s questions involve drawing the trajectory of a bullet, or filling in missing portions of a map but most consist of either writing in the answer or choosing from 5 multiple choice answers. This makes for the game to be simpler that I would have preferred but I will admit that there are those questions that had me perplexed for a while, but for the most part the questions were pretty easy as long as you think it through logically. It’s all elementary my dear Watson.

Dare I add to the cheesiness? Yes I do. The graphics are a crime in itself. With the graphic’s color range as far as I can throw an elephant, I wouldn’t suggest nominating this game for any awards in artistic design. The colors are limited in shades and textures are minimal at best. The 3D aspect of searching through the crime scenes are rather flat. Whether this was a conscious choice on the designers part I’m not sure, but I don’t believe it fits with the game very well.

The continuing story line of a kidnapped model gives you a break from the usual routine. With the tracking down of suspects, searching their apartment for incriminating evidence, or memorizing license plates from suspicious vehicles, the game becomes a little more intriguing. After a while, solving cases one after another becomes a routine and rather predicable, but when side investigations from this continuing story arc are put in intermittently into the case lineup, it can keep us interested enough to see the game through to the end.

Although the somewhat repetitious game play and poor graphics are a downside to the game, upside of a good thinking game with a story to break up the monotony helps bring this game up a couple of notches in my book. It may not be the huge adrenaline rush that games like Gear of War 2 is, but if you want something different than “woah! Did you just see its head explode?” kind of game then give this game a try! Not that I’m condemning those kind of games. I may not look it, but trust me, I enjoy the games where I get to watch an alien creature’s head pop through a sniper scope! But every once in a while I do want to embrace the idea that while playing a video game you can use your brain for more than planning around AI aliens trying to kill you, and Unsolved Crimes would be one of those games where I can get my synapses started up.

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