Reviewed: December 14, 2010
Released: November 2, 2010
Crime Lab: Body of Evidence claims to train the player to become a master of crime scene investigation. While this is pretty spurious, City Interactive’s Crime Lab manages to put together a competent, entertaining crime story that draws from the same well as CSI. Between the hidden object puzzles that push the plot forward, and the varied mini-games, fans of hidden object games looking for a game with meat on it will find something to like, even though the adventure game-styled puzzle solving sequences can sometimes feel directionless.|
Crime Lab puts players in the shoes of Nicole Bonnet, an FBI agent in the throes of ill-explained fame. Sent to investigate an apparently accidental death, the plot escalates to a hunt for a serial killer. While the story practically runs through a checklist of police procedural clichés, it doesn’t get in the way very often and serves its purpose well enough.
Most of the game is spent looking through areas for hidden objects presented on a list. To the game’s credit, the majority of objects make sense for where they are and serve some purpose in the progression of the plot – You won’t be looking for a picture of a horse on your desk as you try to find the killer. After finding these items, you’re either sent into a mini-game, such as matching DNA or picking locks, or into an adventure game-styled puzzle sequence where the game leaves you to boggle out how to use the items you collected to proceed. The mini-games are quick and fun, but for a game that seems targeted towards the casual pick up and play crowd, the puzzles leave you without much direction.
The graphics are competent, but somewhat drab and without atmosphere. Still, they do their job well enough, and they look like the places you’re meant to be in. The presentation is, at its best, workmanlike, and gets out of the players’ way to let them keep going.
While the game offers over 300 activities, it’s not clear how they reached this total, unless every individual thing the player does is counted as an activity. Still, the game provides a fun, if short, ride. Whether the player is searching crime scenes or trying to analyze evidence, the game’s fun, if not revolutionary, gameplay carries through.
If there’s any real fault of Crime Lab, it’s that it doesn’t do anything particularly new or interesting. It’s a well-crafted game that anyone looking the pass the time on a bus ride or a lunch break could have a grand old time with, but it does little to tantalize the senses of capture the imagination. Still, despite a clunky plot and confusing puzzles, it’s fun while it lasts, and the price is right for casual gaming.