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#592931 - 02/01/10 10:40 PM Art of Murder Puppeteer
oldmariner Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 1377
Art of Murder-- Puppeteer

Art of Murder 2 sat on my shelf unopened for four months because I did not wish to deal with yet one more serial killer. Finally I went at it to discover this game is pretty similar to the first but slightly better. If you liked that one then you will enjoy this version, if not, oh well.

Game Mechanics----
It is a standard point and click 3rd person interface where double clicking allows Nicole to run. A magnifying glass in the the game scene invites you to up close dealings with puzzles etc. A right click on objects generates a closer look and in inventory allows you to interact with the object if the game calls for that. Often a simple click on that object gets nothing so right clicking is a must or you could easily miss something. There is no pixel hunting as most items you need are easy to see. The designers have included a question mark on the inventory bar when clicked reveal hot spots on the screen to make searching even easier. The inventory bar is displayed at the bottom of the screen and is not intrusive. You can as is the norm mix items inside your inventory for alternative uses. Here again left clicking is used to alter some items hidden in the inventory object, such as a ring hidden inside something else. Right clicking is very useful to gain further info on those items. I cannot comment on the number of saves allowed as I had 23. Saves are displayed in pages with a scroll bar on the right side of the menu window. Scroll to change pages.

The graphics are nicely rendered with no overly dark spots. There are many locations to visit from the opening crime scene in New Orleans to Paris and other locations in France, Spain and Cuba. But you will be happy to note there is not a lot of senseless running back and forth, some yes but minimal. As in the first game the camera is fixed with no spinning angles to get people directionally challenged, bless the developers for that. Background sounds are blended in well, so well they almost go unnoticed. But when you are listening they are quite good. The voice acting is pretty good especially Nicole. So we have a game with user friendly interface, including the windows start key in xp which enhances your needed peek at that walk through. The graphics are nice and the voice acting won't cause you to pull out your hair. So far so good. The game is on a single dvd which installs in xp rather quickly. The dvd needs to be in the drive when you play the game.

Game play----

We begin with puzzles as they are quite simple, standard fare, nothing to get excited about. No mazes. There are a few timed puzzles but they provide ample time to complete the task. An auto save occurs prior to the timed scene. You can save whenever you wish except inside timed sequences. There are several puzzles that have random solutions where a walk through won't give you the definitive answer. Those are easy enough where a few moments of consideration should resolve it. Most Puzzles were of the inventory variety. Some required you to put item (A) with item (B) and use the resulting item (C) to open the lock or door etc. We get a large break here because there are no puzzles where you have to study evidence collected using lab equipment. Are you tired of those pain in the neck Sherlock footprints yet? The folks at City Interactive spared you that. That feature overly used in games these days hopefully has finally worn out its welcome. No microscopes but they did give you a camera and evidence bags. City, however, did throw in a wrinkle almost sure to catch you the first time out. There are the obligatory put the torn pieces together puzzles. When you do if you fail to follow though with an obvious action the thing falls apart in inventory and you have to redo the puzzle. Nasty yes but realistic! I will say in regard to the puzzles none struck me with the feeling it was put there to lengthen the game. Puzzles are a combination of search the room find the combination and open the safe and use the inventory object with item on the screen. In regard to walking around and troublesome backtracking it is there but not too time consuming. One annoying thing is Nicole cannot pick up some things until she knows she has a specific need. At other times you can pick up everything in sight with no clue as to why you may want it. It is rather inconsistent here. The game is linear in regard to the aspect that you cannot leave an area until you complete the needed task. That does cut down on having to go back very far because you missed something. There is one hateful slider puzzle which can be quite time consuming. For those of you who truly hate those things savegameserver.com has a saved game to spare you.

The largest concern is how short the game is, it could have been longer. As we all play games at a different rate and use of a walk through will effect game playing time. This makes it difficult to say it is a certain number of hours long. I'd suggest Puppeteer is equal in length to the first game. You travel from scene to scene driving Nicole's rental car, a borrowed motorcycle and still another borrowed car. You enter the vehicle and get a map that you click and instantly go there. The right choice is highlighted so you cannot go wrong. Later in the game you simply go where you are supposed to automatically. There are conversations as to be expected in a game of this type. But questions and answers are brief and you are not burdened with long trees and talkative contacts. Several cut scenes, all needed, all well done and informative. No fatal actions that I encountered but that does not mean there are none if you do something wrong. In that regard the game is quite forgiving. In the opening scene there is a bit of confusion of how you are supposed to deal with the evidence you gathered so you can exit to your next location. That could have been handled better, however, it is nothing major.

Story----

The crux of it all is the story and characters. Nicole returns from the first game and you play her exclusively throughout the game. She is sent to France by the F.B.I. to track down a serial killer. Of course the French police want nothing to do with her and the F.B.I provides zero help. It seemed to me to be a stretch. Her phantom partner shows up for one brief scene and disappears not to be seen again. As a rookie agent she skillfully solved her first case so it is less far fetched to send her off to France for a second high profile case. The characters you encounter are well done but no one is likely to impress you as anything memorable. There are several minor issues that could have been better written. In regard to the usual task where our heroine needs assistance from a local she has to do a favor. Some of the favors could have been less typical of what we have seen endlessly. It would have enhanced the game if those task had something to do with advancing the plot. Once again we have to muse over the foolish notion that a government agency with deep pockets would send an agent into the field without money. The resulting solution is rather silly but typical in the way many games handle these things. It would have been refreshing to have the agency give her an expense account and the writers dream up a problem that had something to do with the plot. It does not seem that complicated.

The upside is the story is engaging and keeps your interest without revealing the identity of the bad guy until the end. Because the story was so well done I pushed through it ignoring some of the things I could have explored. Because I wanted to know how it will unfold. The story did lend itself to you wanting to stay with it and the side quest were not too distracting. Like the first game the investigation is self contained with a complete story and ending without any silly cliff hanger. We don't have to wait years to find out who did it in a sequel that may never come. We have no shortage of serial killers and there is nothing that greatly different from many offerings in this genre. But the game is equal to any out there though its major short fall is the length. The action packed ending is handled in a cut scene so unlike Grace you don't have to shove the wolf into a furnace with fifty tries to finish.



In summary as with Art of Murder 1 this is a good game well done and entertaining. Though it falls on the shorter side of what I'd like to see it is still worth the play. How do I rate it? I'd say it is as good as any recent game and better than most of its type. With complete ending, comparable graphics, good voice acting, no technical glitches and better than average story it works well. Yes there was one annoying slider puzzle which we can forgive them them for. They managed to avoid some of the more infamous "what were they thinking" puzzles common elsewhere. No we cannot call it an A+ game. It's not Gabriel or Tex but it is far above many of the clunkers out there. So we will leave it at calling it better than average and worth playing. Hopefully there will be another.




Edited by oldmariner (02/01/10 10:52 PM)

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#592944 - 02/02/10 12:12 AM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: oldmariner]
Mad Offline
True Blue Boomer

Registered: 11/21/00
Posts: 23330
Loc: United Kingdom
Hi oldmariner smile

A nice review, thank you thumbsup

I thoroughly enjoyed the game and thought it was much better than the first one grin

Cheers.

Mad wave
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Time : The Most Precious Commodity

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#592990 - 02/02/10 06:59 AM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Mad]
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
A fine review! I think your wish for another Art of Murder is about to be fulfilled. grin

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#592997 - 02/02/10 07:31 AM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Becky]
Darleen03 Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 12/13/03
Posts: 14748
Loc: Northeast NJ
Good review...

I loved the game, but it was too short.

There wasn't any bad parts to the game...It had a real creepy feeling to the story...
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#593014 - 02/02/10 09:40 AM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Darleen03]
looney4labs Online   content
GB Reviewer Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 42199
Loc: Alabama
thanks Oldmariner wave

It's always great to get your point of view puppy
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"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
-Roger Caras

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#593018 - 02/02/10 10:00 AM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: looney4labs]
Cissy Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 04/02/04
Posts: 493
Loc: San Jose, California
Fantastic review! I too enjoyed this game. Excellent!
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~I love PC Adventure Games

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#593066 - 02/02/10 01:52 PM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Cissy]
oldmariner Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 1377
Thanks for the nice comments guys. This series appears to float under the radar. They are rather short but so far pretty much mistake free. Though nothing special they are well done.

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#593074 - 02/02/10 02:14 PM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: oldmariner]
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
The frequency of releases is great! It feels almost "episodic," though I've never heard the games described that way.

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#593093 - 02/02/10 03:17 PM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Becky]
Mad Offline
True Blue Boomer

Registered: 11/21/00
Posts: 23330
Loc: United Kingdom
Please don't say "episodic" too loudly, Becky !! lol

I so much prefer a "whole game in one go" as is happening with this series - and don't want that to change whistle
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Time : The Most Precious Commodity

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#593184 - 02/02/10 07:23 PM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Mad]
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
Mmmmphmmmphmmmmm. Mum's the word then. Whole games released frequently, and we're glad they somehow manage that. wave

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#593250 - 02/02/10 11:00 PM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Becky]
Mad Offline
True Blue Boomer

Registered: 11/21/00
Posts: 23330
Loc: United Kingdom
broccoli broccoli broccoli Thank You !! lol
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Time : The Most Precious Commodity

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#682459 - 12/21/10 05:57 PM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: oldmariner]
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 2787
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I also thought it was a well-done game, and I appreciated the attempt to inject some personality to the characters. I didn't feel that it had any cheap shots, and the tasks and puzzles were fair. The graphics were excellent as well.

Click to reveal..
However, I was disappointed in the cut-scene ending, the unexpected but convenient brother who intruded to provide the resolution. It left such a strong sense that the ending simply was tacked on just to finish the game. The way the game had been going, it could have gone on much longer, as we worked our way through the catacombs, etc., and actually SOLVED the murders ourselves. But no -- it just ended with a mystery man showing up.

I hope they do a better job with the next game's ending, because overall they've been great fun.


Edited by looney4labs (12/22/10 12:12 PM)

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#682506 - 12/21/10 10:02 PM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Reenie]
Mad Offline
True Blue Boomer

Registered: 11/21/00
Posts: 23330
Loc: United Kingdom
eek12 There's SPOILERS, in them there hills, Reenie eek12
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Time : The Most Precious Commodity

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#682522 - 12/22/10 12:13 AM Re: Art of Murder Puppeteer [Re: Mad]
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 2787
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Yep, but Spoilers are just that: spoilers. LOL I really liked the game, just felt
Click to reveal..
the ending was abrupt.


Edited by looney4labs (12/22/10 12:12 PM)

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