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Nintendo DS Review: Crime Scene

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Being the huge forensic fanatic that I am, I was in bliss when I heard about Crime Scene for Nintendo DS. A game where you actually go around, collecting forensic evidence and clues to solve a murder?!? What could be cooler than that?!?

The main storyline to Crime Scene revolves around Matt Simmons who is a new recruit to the police force and a forensic detective. Matt's first case is the double murder of a fellow detective and his wife. Enter the crime scene: body, blood, bullet holes, you name it. Your job, as the gamer, is to use your stylus to obtain clues, collect samples, and do whatever needs to be done to solve the crime, find the suspect, and put him/or her behind bars for a good long time. Piece of cake, right? Not so much.

Though the premise of this game is awesome, exciting, and morbidly exhilarating, the play itself falls a bit flat. The gamer must move the stylus around the screen, locating certain critical points, which are then indicated by a larger double circle. Once you have zoomed in, you will discover if you must collect a sample, dust for prints, or perform some similar sort of operation. However, there are times where these zooms don't require any action and rather simply find the characters commenting on what is there.   These moments really do nothing as far as moving you closer to solving the crime.

Before you are allowed to proceed on and unlock a new location, you must collect all of the clues and evidence from the previous locations.  This can be quite frustrating when you can't find anything more and sit there, stylus in hand, wondering "WTF?!" Not so fun or exciting.  More like confusing and frustrating.

Beyond that, there are nine different forensic tools for you to use, including: gloves, cotton swab, tweezers, UV light, blue spray, scalpel, brush, adhesive tape, and electrostatic dust print lifter. I do have to mention that Crime Scene is one of the few games that I have experienced that actually  incorporates the use of the L and R buttons (to activate the forensic tool of choice).

Once evidence has been collected, it is turned in to the lab for such testing as DNA analysis, photo enhancement, finger and foot print matching, weapon and bullet ID, as well as other tests that are used in real crime investigations. Sounds pretty cool, right? For the most part, it isn't bad, but still could use some massive improvement.  Particularly helpful would be better navigation, easier use of tools, hints as to where overlooked clues may be, etc.  These changes would make for an excellent — and far more playable — gaming experience. Perhaps it is my ineptness in the game that causes me to think this and more play would change my opinion, but I simply am not blown away by Crime Scene.  For true fans of movies and games in the CSI genre and those with true crime interest, the idea of this game will be an exciting one, but I certainly recommend renting before purchasing.

Crime Scene is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Violence.

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