Explore Victorian London in ‘Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments’
Video Game Reviews
PUBLISHER: Focus Home Interactive
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 4 (PS3, PC, Xbox 360)
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)
Although the modern TV recreation of Sherlock Holmes is popular, I prefer his original Victorian-era mysteries. It’s fun to step back in time and see his brilliant and eccentric mind astound everyone he encounters, and the gorgeous 19th-century costumes put modern fashion to shame! These are but a few of the reasons why I enjoy playing “Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments.”
With six cases to solve, which each sport complex storylines, it doesn’t make sense to describe them all. What is important, however, is that players take on the role of the infamous sleuth as he interacts with Dr. Watson, Scotland Yard and various witnesses to solve each one. A unique twist to this title is the ability to actually pin a murder on the wrong person if the player desires.
This game uses the traditional method of gathering clues at crime scenes and making deductions that lead to further clues and, eventually, a suspect. In order to do this, Mr. Holmes travels to various different London locales and also uses his vast library and home laboratory to extract clues using various methods including chemical experiments and solving puzzles.
Since Sherlock’s mind is so far advanced, he can access a “Focus” ability that slows down time and lets him detect clues that escape ordinary minds. However, his “Deduction” ability lets him piece clues together in his mind to reach logical conclusions that link evidence together. In this mode, Sherlock can literally draw a line from each conclusion to find the identity of the killers.
I’m impressed with the realistic visuals that actually show the emotion of each character in the game, and the voice acting is also top drawer! My only real complaint is that each case isn’t particularly difficult to solve as long as players are willing to pay attention and utilize the tools at their disposal.
Nevertheless, “Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments” is my favorite point-and-click adventure game to date!
‘Skylanders Trap Team’
DEVELOPER: Toys for Bob
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 4 (PS3, Xbox 360)
PRICE: $74.99 for Starter Pack
ESRB RATING: Everyone
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Activision’s “Skylanders” series is dreamy for kids, but it can be a nightmare for adults. The reason is that players can access more content in each game if they purchase separate toy figures. Past games accepted figures designed for any game in the series, but “Skylanders Trap Team” requires several new characters and the starter pack to unlock it’s full potential.
For the uninitiated, “Skylanders” games include a peripheral called the “Portal of Power,” that transfers special toy figures from the real word into the game. Kids are thrilled to see their figures enter the virtual world, and to then control their actions. It’s like real-life magic to them.
New to the series is the ability to capture villains and then use them during game play. The newly designed Portal of Power has a special slot for traps, and players can capture up to 55 villains as long as they have a separate trap for each one. Not only do players now have to buy new figures, but they also have to buy new traps to hold additional villains. But we all know who has to buy these items — reluctant parents!
Villains can be used at any time during the adventure, but they exist on a short timer. Once they take enough damage or the timer runs out, the game switches back to the original character. However, switching between characters during combat paves the way for new strategies such as using Broccoli Guy to heal Skylanders.
It’s too bad that the focus on combat comes at the expense of good level design. There’s just not enough interesting stuff to do besides fight enemies and trap villains. I also don’t like how so much of the game is blocked to players who don’t invest in “Skylanders Trap Team” figures. The resulting experience will eventually grow tiresome for kids whose parents refuse to invest heavily.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10+: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
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