Crime Scene - hands-on

Blood and bodies are hell of a way to start the morning. It was an apparent murder-suicide. Their cold, lifeless corpses were slumped in pools of blood at opposite ends of the otherwise cozy apartment. He was a good cop. Maybe it was the stress that made him snap. Maybe it was something else that made him put a bullet in his wife and then turn the gun around on himself. Either way, something just didn’t jive. It was time to roll up our sleeves, grab the stylus, and dig into to the evidence in Crime Scene.

Nobilis’s upcoming mystery adventure is a crime drama enthusiast’s wet dream. It goes far beyond the paltry offerings of other similar titles typically laden with lots of babbling dialogue and a smattering of minigames. After checking out a portion of the game’s first case, it almost seems as if the developers intended to make the experience a primer on crime scene forensics 101. Dissecting and analyzing vivid murder scenes is gritty and a little disturbing. We like it.

You start off as a rookie detective named Matt Simmons who’s stuck investigating the death of a fellow police officer who appears to have murdered his wife and then killed himself. There are quite a few grisly cases worked into the game, and each takes a handful of hours to complete. The action typically kicks off at each crime scene where you’ll comb over and collect any evidence that’s left lying around, interview any witnesses, and perform important forensic procedures to pick up clues as to what happened. Of course, that’s only half of your job. Another hefty chunk of the gameplay takes place back at the department’s crime lab where you can run tests. There you’ll also pore over photos, evidence, and information you’ve collected in order to put together an accurate report to turn in at the end of the day.

As you poke around each crime scene, you’ll engage in various stylus-based minigames. We swabbed blood from various corpses and the environment for comparison, removed bullets from a wall with tweezers, took finger prints, and tackled other key duties. For the most part, each task was a complex, multi-step affair. For example, taking fingerprints required us to brush powder over the area, blow it off, drop a piece of adhesive tape precisely over the print, rub it in, pull it off, and file it neatly in an envelope without screwing up.

Back in the lab, we ran multiple blood tests. This had us using a dropper to place the right amount of fluids on a slide, carefully placing a glass plate over the sample, zooming in with the microscope, and clearing away the extraneous debris with a laser before getting the results we were looking for. In every activity, proper timing and accuracy is crucial. Asking for too many hints or botching too many of the forensic minigames compromises the investigation and gets you fired. Crime Scene is hardcore in every way. If forensics and unsolved murders get your blood pumping, you’ll want to keep a close watch out for this one.

Dec 10, 2009