The best point-and-click adventure games combine striking artwork and clever brainteasers with engaging story lines and (when applicable) A-list voice acting. Sadly, Art of Murder: FBI Confidential - a new release from Polish developer/publisher City Interactive - only connects on about half of these points. The game follows a young FBI agent named Nicole Bonnet as she investigates a series of grisly ritualistic murders in New York City.
The narrative moves her between assorted city locales - FBI headquarters, a pre-Columbian art museum, the City Library, and various crime scenes - before eventually winging her off to a Peruvian archeological site. The game mechanics involve the standard point-and-click movement interface, inventory combining, and dialogue-heavy character interaction set against some detailed and attractively rendered background scenery. Bonnet can also access her PDA at any time to review past clues, take photographs, or telephone key characters, and a welcome “hint” feature eliminates the pixel-hunting common to the genre.
Art of Murder does a decent enough job with all this stuff while presenting a mostly entertaining series of logic-based puzzles for our heroine to solve. Where it stumbles - and badly - is in its contrived plot, terrible writing, and even worse voice acting. Agent Bonnet is more Nancy Drew than Dana Scully, and her ill-advised and oftentimes incomprehensible lone-wolf investigation technique would see her fired inside a day in the real FBI. You also can’t warp quickly between locations, and the resulting backtracking soon becomes as tiresome as the senseless script and amateur-hour voiceovers. Art of Murder gets most of the fundamentals right, but after spending an hour or so with its grating characters, banal dialogue, and inept plot, you probably won’t care.
Jul 28, 2008