Art of Murder: FBI Confidential

 

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    City Interactive

Released:  May 2008 (UK)

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 9.0, Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, DirectX 8.1 compatible video card with 32 MB RAM, DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card, 1 GB free hard drive space, DVD-ROM drive

Walkthrough  Walkthrough

 

 

 

 

by nickie

 

Nicole Bonnet is a brand new Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and sheís itching to make an impact on the world. Arriving at a run-down tenement for a stakeout, she is dismissed to fetch coffee. Upon her return, she finds her partner dying from a gunshot wound and a panicked run up the stairs to the roof shows a car speeding away from the scene. Determined to find the killer, she is instead assigned a serial murder case. Someone is killing influential citizens in Manhattan, New York and -- like most serial killers -- is leaving clues by the modus operandi. In this case, a ritualistic dagger is being used to carve the victimsí hearts from their bodies, and ancient coins are inserted in various orifices.

The investigation logically leads to a museum in an effort to identify the dagger and talk to those who knew the victims, accumulating any forensic evidence available. As Bonnet progresses with her investigation, she finds links to Peru that convince her that traveling there will shed light on why these particular victims have died. Ignoring protocol and her own safety, the impetuous Bonnet hops a plane in an effort to find a lost city that may allow her to uncover valuable evidence.

Just a minute, you say. A female FBI Agent, a tenement, coffee, a panicked run up some stairsÖThat opening scene is reminiscent of the adventure game Still Life, isnít it? Even the office secretary in this game resembles the coroner in Still Life. The initial similarity between the two games is most unfortunate for this game, as it suffers by comparison. It has none of the artful power to enthrall, the dynamic characters, or the explosive score to thrill while you became a willing participant as Still Life grabbed you and yanked you into its world. Sort of like yearning to kiss a newfound love, and instead having your elderly auntie step up for a peck on the cheek.

The Story

The story is actually quite good: a mystery to solve that spans New York and Peru. Thank goodness the game had Peru after the claustrophobic inside settings in New York. Peru comes alive with areas to explore and evidence lurking around the next ancient ruin. I wish there had been more time spent there, as it was the most enjoyable part of the game.

Unfortunately, the plot of the game is full of great gaping holes, as if chunks were left out due to budget constraints. Some of the more interesting aspects of the story are related by dialogue instead of being played out in the game. I like dialogue in games, but even I was disturbed by this tendency to hear in a few sentences what I would like to have seen and played through. This isnít helped by the jejune conversations you have to hear, either. Although occasionally witty, even the main character fails to make the player care about her and her quest. Youíre never drawn into Bonnetís world, and you never forget even for a moment that youíre playing a game.

When Iím playing a good game, I donít usually mind or sometimes even notice a lack of other characters in scenes Ė my attention is riveted upon the unfolding story. However, in some games such as this one, it is all too painfully obvious that only the absolutely necessary characters for the storyline are on the screen. I donít think itís a spoiler to tell you that even Bonnetís partner is unavailable for most of the game. Why even bother to have him in the story, except to add a tedious puzzle? I recognize that budget constraints may force the hand of the developers. However, much could be done in the way of character development of those characters that do appear, rather than making them shadowy cardboard figures.

Game Mechanics

This is a third person adventure game, point and click.  Moving your mouse over the screen will indicate icons, a left button click for action and movement, and a right icon click for descriptive information. The screens are static with no scrolling. A double click of the left mouse button will make Bonnet run. In addition, there is a hint key on the screen that can be selected to show areas of interest and exits. There is the occasional item location that makes this feature worthwhile and avoids a pixel hunt.

There are ample save spaces and game play is saved by way of a picture depicting the location of the save. You can save at any point outside of certain puzzles and cut scenes.

I encountered no glitches except for once having out-of-sequence dialogue that made me think I hadnít solved a puzzle when it was actually completed.

Graphics

Graphics and story are the strength of this game. Although the cut scenes are choppy and somewhat grainy and the characters are pictured too far away and shadowy for the most part, the landscape scenery is lovely. When the game ventures to South America, it comes alive. Cobblestone streets, a stone fountain, the lush foliage of the jungle and the mysterious ancient ruins are rendered in loving detail.

Sound

The ambient sound is likewise well done, with appropriate sounds according to the scene. The jungle sounds as a jungle should; towns have engine sounds of vehicles, and so on. The characterís footfalls are heard on different substances.

The musical score is instrumental and changes by scene. I found it vaguely disturbing when I was trying to concentrate on the game, and took my headphones off.

The voiceover work is mostly average, with a few voices less than adequate. It becomes rather grating to hear Bonnet tell you for the umpteenth time that what youíre attempting to do to utilize inventory items is incorrect, when what is needed is a line of dialogue from someone before you can do the very same action successfully.

Puzzles

The puzzles are mostly inventory based, with a few simple logic puzzles as well. Theyíre well integrated into the story, and a seasoned adventure game player will probably breeze through them. There isnít anything you havenít seen before in some variation.

The game is very linear, and you canít leave an area of the game until all puzzles are solved. Bonnet will indicate if thereís something else that needs to be done. By the process of elimination, even a new adventure game player will be able to solve this game through trial and error.

For many puzzles it is clear what needs to be accomplished, but as I said previously, a line of dialogue will have to be elicited before the puzzle can be completed. This seemed a bit picayune.

You will encounter two puzzles where failure results in a ďgame overĒ when the character can die. One of these is timed. The biggest problem with this puzzle is that, unless you are really lucky, youíre going to experience a ďgame overĒ at least once while you figure out what is necessary for success.

There are, however, no mazes, sound, color or slider puzzles.

Bits and Pieces

The game is on DVD, so you must have a DVD drive to play it.

The disk has to be in the drive for the game to play.

There are quite a few instances of expletives, and at least one scene that contains gore. The game is rated 16+.

Subtitles are provided. A few of these have typographical errors.

Summary

I donít want to give the impression that this is a bad game, because it isnít. Itís pleasant enough to play. You most likely wonít shake your fist at the screen, bemoaning the fact you bought it, nor will you probably feel the urge to clasp it in a warm embrace and call it your child.

  • Third person point and click.

  • Inventory and logic puzzles.

  • One timed puzzle in which your character can die.

  • Ample saves, and you can save almost anywhere.

  • An interesting mystery with mediocre dialogue.

  • Scenery graphics are well done.

Grade: B-

June 2008

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