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Nancy Drew - Secret of the Old Clock
(PC CD-ROM Game)
We were recently given a few mystery games for the PC and usually I don't give them a second glace, though one caught my eye as I remember reading some of the stories when I was younger about Nancy Drew, a fictional teenage detective who goes around solving mysteries for people. Knowing I loved reading the stories when I was younger I thought I would give it a go and was pleasantly surprised. This first game I tried was called 'Curse of Blackmoor Manor' which I have also reviewed. After playing and loving this game I went and bought 'Secret of the Old Clock' from Ebay for only £3.00 including postage and packaging - a great price, and even if the game didn't turn out as any good, it would not have broken the bank.
Before I take you into the game I thought I would give you some information which may help you decide if this game is apt for your computer as there is nothing worse than buying a game only to find out that it is not compatible with your system.
* Runs on XP and Vista (Have used this game on both operating systems and had no problem on either)* CPU type and speed: Pentium II 400MHz or equivalent
* Hard drive space: 300MB
* Memory: 64MB (512 for Vista)
* Graphics: Any 16MB DirectX compatible video card
Installing the game is very simple and like most games. Usually the installation programme will commence when you put the disc into the drive, though if it does not just go to explorer and find your CD-ROM drive and click on SETUP.EXE. Once you've installed the game, which doesn't take too long at all, you are ready to begin.
WELCOME TO BLACKMOOR
"Venture into the past and outwit a cunning criminal before time runs out"
The year is 1930. A fiery explosion at the Lilac Inn leaves its owner, Emily Crandall, teetering on the edge of sanity and propels you, as Nancy Drew, headlong into adventure. A will, left behind by an eccentric millionaire, could solve Emily's problems, and fortunately you've got a car and can drive anywhere you want though is there more to this mystery than meets the eye?
A lot of games like this are quite static and more of a 'find the hidden object' game which solves a mystery. These types of games bore me, though I am happy to say that this game is not only fully interactive, with characters moving and interacting with one another, but it is also has 360° movability in which you are able to walk wherever you want, as well as drive your car around the area. This, in my opinion, is much better when completing a mystery game like this. The game begins with a small opening story allowing you knowledge of why you, as Nancy, have come to the Lilac Inn. Straight away, the action begins with the kitchen blowing up and some jewellery going missing. This is the start of the mystery. The first thing that struck me when starting this game was the fact that there was no kitchen to explore due to the explosion. Perhaps a funny thing to notice though in the last Nancy Drew game I played, you could not go into the kitchen there either so it makes me wonder whether the makers of these Nancy Drew Interactive games can actually build kitchen designs into their games!! Anyway, this is more of a personal gripe than anything to do with the game so let me continue...
The game play area is a lot bigger than that of the Blackmoor Manor game so I felt quite excited at the prospect of a bigger game (this was not to work out entirely accurate as you will see later!). There are three main buildings to explore including a whole area on the map to drive to;
The first building is the Lilac Inn where the main action takes place. After a large mansion in the previous game I certainly expected more from the main building. The appearance was fantastic with some great graphics though there was a lot of 'empty space'. What I mean by this is that although you could move upstairs and into the lobby area downstairs, there were many doors which never opened and many spaces in which were decoration only. You could not explore the back of the Inn nor could you go in to the other four bedrooms upstairs which was a huge disappointment. There is, of course, certain 'special' areas which can be uncovered later in the game though I won't say too much about these so not to give anything away though I will say that they held the same slight disappointment as the Inn with more hype than anything else.
The second building is situated a small walk away from the Inn and consists of only one room in which you can explore. Although there is a lack of places to go in this house, this building does have more appeal and excitement than the Inn for various reasons. Near to the house is a small shed in which holds possibly the most information of the game though again, there is not an overabundance of places in there to explore. `
On the back of the games case is a picture of your view from the driving position in a car with wording which leads you to believe that you will be able to drive the car around from the view of the driving seat. This is found to be very misleading. The car automatically drives out of the Inn's car park though when you get to take over it feels as though you are playing a game of micro machines with the birds eye view of the car from quite a distance up. You move the car with the mouse button and cursor and avoid pot holes. I found that the highlight of driving the car was the horn though I found that by accident when dropping something on the keys! You are automatically given a map of the area in your inventory at the start of the game which helps you know where to drive though apart from some useless visits to certain places, only two places are of any interest or use and that is the bank and the pond. In the bank you are able to look around the one room and talk to the banker and at the pond you can actually fish whereas all the other places you simply hear a voice over and occasionally get a old photo to resemble the place you have stopped. Very disappointing really.
After playing the other game I was expecting many secrets to unravel, objects to find, mystery's to solve and such like, and although there were quite a lot of partly difficult things to crack, there were not nearly as many and everything seemed so much easier. Overall, I think the game took me around seven hours to play. Now, I am no expert in these types of games and have only ever played a couple of games like this and know many people would probably complete the game a lot faster, though for me, seven hours is nothing proving what a short and easy game this is. There were a couple of times where I found what I had to do slightly difficult, though with a few notes I had written from things I had found in the game, I mainly found this game too simple. It does have the age rating on the case of 7 plus though so did the other Nancy Drew game and that was a lot more complex. This, in junior level at least, was so simple that at times it bored me. I have not tried it in Senior detective mode, though this is meant to be harder though will probably not try this as at junior level I was not impressed and so has put me off trying at a harder level.
The storyline to the game is actually not too bad. It is a simple story with some fun twists and turns within it, nothing too mind blowing though. This story really works in the game and in itself is much better than the game itself. Sometimes simplicity works, sometimes it does not. They got it right in the storyline though failed when it came to the game design.
There are only a few characters to this game. There are many more 'voice over' characters in different places on the map though these people do not play any real part in the story. The main character is, of course, Nancy Drew who you play. You never see 'yourself' though do hear her voice which is the same as the other Nancy Drew game I played recently which is good.
The other main characters include;
Emily: Emily is a seventeen year old girl who has just lost her mother and has inherited the inn though she feels that she is loosing her mind as creepy goings on are happening around her (reminds me of Blackmoor manor - they certainly ran out of ideas!). Emily is who the story focuses around and you interact with her to quite an extent.
Jane: Emily's temporary guardian who has the most annoying voice ever! Her character seems to play the part of moving the story forward and helps you piece together a few different things.
Richard Topham: Richard lives in the house round the back of the Inn and took it over after the previous owner died. He deals in the supernatural and apart from discussing a few important things about the previous owner with you, he is more of an annoyance than anything else.
Jim Archer: The banker who is always at his desk in the bank. This character is a tool to help you pass over objects in order to move forward.
All the characters above are fully interactive and all have their own great personalities (even if some are very annoying!). There are also three other characters which can be reached on the phone. The first is Nancy's dad who gives a lot of hints in the junior level game. Calling her dad comes in handy if you are stuck though sometimes the hints are as cryptic as the puzzles! The other two are Nancy's friends who simply help you sort out what you have found out. I did not find these two very helpful at all.
Within the main game, there are also many mini-games. A lot of these play a key part in the mystery. That is the thing about this game - there is little in the game play which is useless apart from certain places on the map. Most things have a meaning and leads to one thing or another, whether it is another clue to something or how to do something else. At first it doesn't seem like it, though by experience of playing the previous game, I knew enough to make notes from the start!
You are equipped from the beginning with a purse in which you have a small amount of money which is needed in various parts of the game. You are also able to earn money from one of the places on the map though I will leave you to find out which one! You also have the inventory option and a notebook, all of which you can find at the bottom of the game screen. The notebook has two parts, the first which are Nancy's notes of what she has done and the second are the things she needs to do which can be checked off by you when you have done them.
You can not die as such in this game, though certain actions may cause you to be fired. This is not a problem, though, as you can choose the second chance option which returns to into the game just before you made the blunder! You can also save the game as many times as you want and whenever you want.
There are two difficulty settings to this game; junior detective and senior detective, with the latter obviously being the harder version. I have only played this game on the easier option and that was enough for me. I completed it in around seven hours and found it very easy. I am not sure how much harder the senior detective mode is though I can not see it being impossible by any means.
The graphics in the game are really good. They are not the best I have seen, though certainly do rate highly. The detail in the rooms and on objects are amazing and you can really imagine that you are in that mansion. There is also no freezing during game play though if you are playing on a system with the minimal requirements you may find this happens.
You can pick this game up for as little as £3.00 online and I would say that it is well worth it for that price. I am quite disappointed in the game and reached the end of the game before I knew it. I found the ending rather rushed as though they had run out of space on the disk! The storyline was simple yet great, though, and the tasks and secrets were better than average. I would say that this particular Nancy Drew would be better suited for a young teenager rather than an adult as it is very easy. Although I have mentioned a number of negatives about the game, I am reviewing as an adult and therefore still recommend this for the younger teenager stage.