Crime Scene Hands-On

We snap on some rubber gloves and investigate horrific crimes in this upcoming adventure game.

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Forensic detective wannabes will find that there is much to do in SouthPeak's upcoming Crime Scene for the Nintendo DS, in which you play as a rookie detective who must investigate the double murder of a coworker and his wife. It's like Phoenix Wright meets CSI, but with a lot less reading, because you progress based on the clues and evidence that you collect. We got a chance to check out the first grisly case in Crime Scene when SouthPeak stopped by our office to give us a first look.

Examine the crime scene to seek the truth.
Examine the crime scene to seek the truth.

You play as Matt Simmons, a forensic detective who has just joined the police force and is ready to get out there and do his job. His first case is to find out what happened to a fellow detective and his wife. There's an overarching storyline to Crime Scene, but we were told that each of the five cases in the game will be quite different from one another. At a glance, it appears to be a murder-suicide, but as you begin to gather evidence, things will start to become clear. We began our investigation in the apartment where the crime had taken place, and by using the shoulder buttons, we could pull up different locations to visit on the touch screen. The first room we checked out was where the detective's sprawled-out body was, with a bullet hole in his head and blood everywhere. Before getting down to business, we snapped a photograph for our files and talked to the coroner to get all the details from his perspective.

Everything that a detective needs is in your inventory on the touch screen, including a messaging system where you can get helpful information from others. Using the stylus, you can scan the crime scene until your cursor changes as it homes in on an object of interest. We began with the obvious, zooming in on the body to collect a blood sample from the deceased. Collecting evidence is like several minigames in one. First you have to pick the swab and dip it in a bucket of solution. A meter will appear, and you have to hold the left button long enough for the arrow to stop in the green zone so that you don't break the swab. By pressing the shoulder button again, you use your stylus to wipe the blood until you have enough and then put it in a packet that automatically appears.

Dusting for prints is also a multiple-step process: you have to use a brush to leave powder over the print, blow into the microphone to remove the excess dust, and then apply some tape to remove the print. It takes a few tries to do all the steps correctly, but you're given directions in the first case so that you can get an idea of what you need to do. Using tweezers to remove the bullet was a bit tricky at first too, because you have to trace the arrow that appears on the screen quickly and accurately enough to succeed. After gathering the evidence, we stopped in the hallway to interview a neighbor by choosing the options that were presented. It didn't look like our choice would affect the conversation much, but we went through all the dialogue options to get as much information as we could.

Back at the office, we were able to analyze the samples that we had collected. Analyzing the DNA involved using a pipette to put the blood and solution onto a slide and then checking it out under a microscope. Unwanted cells and glucose bits were floating around, which we had to zap with the stylus to get the information that we needed. We also took a fingerprint from a gun that was retrieved at the crime scene and checked it against the database to find a match. The bullet fragment that was collected also had to undergo some ballistic fingerprinting and be matched with another bullet of the correct size. All these steps are required for you to gather enough evidence to present to your boss to complete the case. As you go through the game, your performance will affect your credibility meter, which will rise and fall depending on your actions. There is a hint system in place if you're really stuck, but it costs you some credibility to use it. Presenting your findings too early is also not wise, but you can save at any time and try again later.

It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.
It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

Crime Scene will be rated M due to the content and all the blood that you'll have to swab, but it does have a clean, hand-drawn presentation, like games such as Trauma Center or Phoenix Wright--but without the anime influence. The interface is easy to use, once you get a handle on how to use all your tools. Like on an iPhone, you can slide through the objects in your inventory with a swipe of your stylus. We were told that the first case can take up to two hours to solve, and the entire game can take upward of 15 hours to complete.

We're curious to see how this case pans out, but we're going to have to wait a bit longer because Crime Scene is expected to be released in February of next year.

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