New York Times bestselling author James Patterson has his finger in a lot of pies. With 52 novels under his belt, he has dedicated a lot of time to various adaptations for film, TV, and video games. The upcoming Women's Murder Club: Crimes of Passion, announced for the DS and DSi at Nintendo's Tuesday press conference, is based on Patterson's highly successful series of books about four women who dedicate their time to solving crimes. We tried our hand at being a detective at THQ's booth during E3 2009.
Who's Making This Game:
Women's Murder Club: Crimes of Passion was developed by Seattle-based Griptonite Games and is being published by THQ. The game's producer, Adam Affruniti, told us Patterson was involved in all aspects of the game's eight-month development, including the decision to exclude the fourth member of the Women's Murder Club from the game's story. The game is targeted at women between 18 and 49 years, but THQ is not hiding the fact that they think everyone who is a fan of Patterson's work will play this.
What The Game Looks Like:
This is an action mystery game in the same manner as Hotel Dusk and is heavily story-driven. The game's environments range from crime scene exteriors to restaurants and cafe interiors, and its visual style is realistic, with a lot of attention to detail on objects and faces. For example, players will be required to medically examine a human body, which is visually impressive up close.
What There Is To Do:
There are three stories in the game, each played from the perspective of one of the three main characters: Lindsay (detective), Claire (medical examiner), and Cindy (news reporter). Each story has its own mystery, but we are told they are all connected in some way. The game is broken up between dialogue-driven story sequences and gameplay that involves analyzing crime scenes and evidence, finding clues, solving puzzles, and conducting witness interviews. There are also minigames that help to unlock clues throughout the game. In the demo we played, we had to analyze a crime scene under a bridge with a variety of different objects to examine, including a car, a basketball, a handbag, and a hedge. We were then transported back to the lab where we had to examine a body, discovering clues that could help us understand why the victim was murdered. Throughout the game, you will have to report back to your boss in between looking for clues, as well as regroup with the other members of the Women's Murder Club, who will help with unsolved clues. The gameplay lasts roughly four hours.
How The Game Is Played:
The game is played with the DS and DSi stylus by simply touching the area of the screen that you want to examine or activate (for example, during the dialogue). The game is played mainly holding the console on its side, with the bottom screen serving as the action screen and the top screen as the information screen. However, sometimes this will change. In the demo we played, the top screen held a list of items that we had to find at the crime scene displayed in the bottom screen. To find items, we simply touched the screen to move and zoom and then touched a particular item when we located it.
The game also has DSi functionality, which includes eight mini-stories that use the console's many features. For example, one of the stories requires players to use the DSi camera to take photos of various faces, which are then included in the story. DSi players will start out with just two of these mini-stories, and must unlock the other six as they play the game's main story.
What We Didn't See:
We played a very short demo that included analyzing a crime scene, examining a body, and having a short conversation with our character's boss. We didn't get to see the game from the perspective of the other two characters, nor did we see more environments or anything more substantial relating to the main storyline.
What They Say:
This game will appeal to all gamers, and there are plans to make more in the series.
What We Say:
We couldn't deduce much from our short hands-on demo other than the fact that the game looks good, and it sounds promising in terms of delivering a captivating story and challenging puzzles. We were also keen to check out some of the minigames mentioned. There is no doubt that this game will appeal to those who are fans of the portable mystery genre, but just how exciting the gameplay will get we can't tell.
Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage on the game before its October 2009 release.