Miss Scarlet, in the conservatory, with the lead pipe "Indeed, no," replies the English butler. "I'm afraid you've got it all wrong. "
Hasbro Interactive's translation of the eternally popular board game Clue transports the gamer to Arlington Hall, where Mr. Boddy has been foully murdered. Through a series of FMV flashback sequences, interviews with various sketchy characters, and entrances and exits through clue-laden rooms, the player sleuths and solves the fiendish crime. Or, at least, that's the idea.
Something is indeed "all wrong" in Clue-land and that something has a troubling name: No multiplayer capability. Six people can play, but they have to hot seat it. Ridiculous. If ever there was a game designed to be played in real time over a network, this is it.
Even worse is that after everyone in your office refuses to play with you because you can't network and they won't play with people who don't network, and you finally settle down to play a lonely single-player game, you discover there's no AI opponent. You are completely alone in Arlington Hall, the only detective in this house of melodrama. You trudge from room to room, talking to Miss Scarlet or Mrs. White listlessly about that wrench in the ballroom, filled with ennui because, instead of a slick and crafty opponent, you have endless turns and limitless quantities of time to take them.
AND adding insult to injury - after you summon the butler with your bell, reveal the murderer's identity, and expose his fondness for candlesticks, and then decide you might like to do it all over again, you discover that there really aren't 12 completely different games to play. Each of the three different stories has four levels of difficulty and each difficulty setting has a different ending (is this beginning to sound like the "Ending A/Ending B/Ending C" ploy from the movie to anyone else?). But each level uses so many of the same flashback sequences and puts so many of the characters and weapons in the exact same places as the level before that you've got half the clues figured out before you even really play the "new" game.
Finally, the game goes just a tad bit overboard in fleshing out the characters. There are enough little subplots going on (Mr. Green's sly engagement to Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard's secret passion for Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum's plan to help Mrs. White into secure retirement) that it's surprising the butler doesn't come out halfway through the game and announce, "Clue, brought to you by Rinso - We rinse your clothes so well."
Computer versions of board games work best when they're direct translations of the game to the computer, board and all. Scrabble, for example, is so intensely addictive precisely because it's exactly the same as the board game, except on the computer. These board games have been popular for years for a reason - why change them?
So, the bell has been rung, the butler has entered, and the time has come to reveal the facts about the murder
How about Hasbro, in the computer room, with the overdone FMV and apathetic design?