Monday, August 9, 2010

(TrueAchievements Repost) Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper Review

In order to write this review I first had to find the address for a computer technician to fix my keyboard. I needed to go old school and use an actual phone book as my computer was out of order of course. Sadly, the only phone book in the area was up on the balcony of a third floor apartment. No one was home, so I had to mug a fireman and take his ladder. In order to mug this fireman, I had to first secure a hefty wooden tree branch for use as a makeshift club. This meant I had to distract the squirrel on the branch since I did not want to hurt him. To do this, I had to find my nuts.

Okay, so I did not actually have to do any of that, but if that was tough for you to read just stop right now and do not play this game. Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper is an old school adventure game. I am talking Myst adventure games here. Originally a PC Game in the U.K., now a 360 game here in the States (as well as the U.K.), Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper is an acquired taste.

Plot

You play as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, attempting to solve the infamous Jack the Ripper murders that took London by storm in 1888. The world's first sensationalized serial killer (Jack the Ripper stirred up media interest like no one's business) was never actually caught, making this an excellent case for Sherlock Holmes. The game, surprisingly, uses the actual timeline, locations and suspects of the Jack the Ripper murders. By playing this game, you will know the actual history of the Jack the Ripper murders.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED - LEARNED SOMETHING FROM A VIDEO GAME

Gameplay

Unlike the PC version, you can play in either a first or third person perspective. Third is easier to get around the drab rooms and corridors of 19th century London, but first makes it much easier to grab clues and items. Which you will be doing. A lot. The same scenario plays out over and over again. Sherlock and Watson will be in the office and then will get a clue. You rush off as one of the Dynamic Duo to investigate the clue but in doing so, must go on the sort of subquest hell not seen since Breath of Fire 2.

The solutions to most of the puzzles are quite logical. So logical in fact that I found myself missing an important clue right in front of my face. A few will most likely, require a guide, despite having one by my side I actually enjoyed figuring some of them out on my own. I know! this day and age, someone taking the time to figure out logic puzzles! Go figure.

Control

The controls will make a few of those puzzles significantly harder then they should be as this was originally a PC game, a mouse and keyboard is clearly the control scheme this was designed to use in the first place. Finding the right pixel can reach annoyance levels akin to finding the loose brick in the dungeon of Maniac Mansion.

Combining items in your inventory and flipping between menu screens is a bit convoluted, but you get used to it. There is a term for control schemes like this...Stockholm Syndrome.

Graphics

Horrible. Good thing you are not playing this for them.

Sound and Music

The voice acting is spot on and did not drive me to the brink of insanity. With the amount of British accents present, you would think it would be incredible grating and over the top, but no, the voice work actually enhances the story. Nuances can be picked up if you actually stop and listen to the plot advancing, one suspect at a time.

Music is nearly non-existent but the ambient noise is not intrusive either, so given the excellent voice work, we will just call this one a wash.

Achievements

With a guide, this is one of the fastest 1k's available. Only 4 achievements are miss-able and the rest you will earn naturally by finishing the story.

Conclusion

Well, the graphics are horrendous and the control will make you scream before you submit and accept it as your master, but to be brutally honest?

I found the game to actually be fairly amusing.

Granted, that is almost entirely because of the historical accuracy on display throughout the entire game and my own background in History. The old-school adventure gameplay is also charming once you realize exactly what it is you are getting yourself into with this game. Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper is such an acquired taste that I can not recommend this for everyone.

If the thought of old school adventure in a historical setting sounds remotely appealing to you, then grab this one on the cheap and have a fun weekend.

If the thought of having to read while playing a game confuses you, then stay away.

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