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Sherlock Holmes Vs Jack The Ripper (Xbox 360)

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£16.59 Best Offer by: amazon.co.uk See more offers
2 Reviews

Genre: Action & Adventure / Video Game for Xbox 360 / Release Date: 2009-11-20 / Published by Ubisoft

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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      05.08.2010 10:34
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      A disappointing Xbox game

      This game currently costs £15 on amazon. Give it a few more months and it'll probably be down to a fiver. It might just about be worth getting at that price.

      This, as you've probably deduced, is a game in which fictional detective Sherlock Holmes is pitted against real-life serial killer Jack the Ripper. It's basically a 'point and click' detective game in which you, playing as Holmes and his thick friend Dr Watson, have to solve various puzzles, run errands and piece together 'evidence' to try to determine the identity of the most famous uncaught killer in history. Unsurprisingly, you don't get to play as Jack the Ripper trying to elude the police and Holmes. That might be more fun, but obviously wouldn't be very tasteful. I believe this is the latest in a series of Holmes games made by Frogwares but obviously you won't lose out by not having played the earlier ones.

      This doesn't feel like it belongs on the Xbox 360 at all - it's a very basic game with very basic gameplay. It's also available for PC, where the point-and-click stuff no doubt works better. You have to solve a lot of puzzles, use items you find to progress the plot, and try to figure things out about the murders by examining the crime scenes. None of this comes close to using to console to its full capacity. This could probably run on a handheld device just as well, and would probably be better suited to that format, as it's more the kind of thing you might choose to do to pass time on a train journey, like a crossword puzzle or something.

      Likewise, the animated cutscenes, of which there are many, look old fashioned, like something that would work just as well on an old Xbox (especially scenes where people have to touch one another, few though they are - when the Ripper's hand grabs the first victim's mouth in the opening credits it never looks even remotely like two solid things are physically connecting). The sound effects are a bit weird, and don't seem like they're synchronised with the image. Dialogue is OK, but the street noise is a bit random, and occasionally you'll hear a carriage rattle past when clearly there are no carriages in sight. I think the developer, Frogwares', quality assurance could be better all round, as there are numerous typos in the game, and e's with acute accents don't appear in the text at all, leaving very conspicuous gaps in words when characters talk about séances.

      The main storyline is pretty straightforward. It follows the real facts of the Ripper case reasonably closely, and the suspects are for the most part historically real. The solution the game plumps for isn't too bad as these things go, and they've the sense to find a suspect who pulls in a couple of well-worn Ripper suspect motifs without ever going off into conspiracy theories or silliness. Unfortunately there are rather too many little side quests which need to be completed in order to progress. At one point Holmes has to take care of a sick cat, which strikes me as extremely out of character. The supposedly amusing overweight prostitute character is staggeringly misconceived. On the other hand, some sub-plots are nice, like the Ripper letters episode, or the vanishing corpses stuff.

      They do try to make Holmes a bit of a misanthrope, just as he is in the books. And Watson is a loveable old duffer, whose intelligence is wildly inconsistent depending on his plot function at any given moment. Unfortunately the dialogue is generally terrible. Aside from howlers like "no less than 30", it often comes across as someone trying to pastiche Victorian speech without having actually read a great deal of it. One of Watson's little catch-phrases is "this neighbourhood makes me ill at ease", which is just plain wrong, and epitomises the problem. Superficially, it looks right; when you try to imagine someone saying it in a Dickens adaptation you realise that it just won't do.

      Making the lousy script even worse is some of the most dreadful voice acting I've ever heard in a game. Holmes and Watson just about get by, although Holmes has a tendency to speak too quickly (probably to get through some of the mammoth sentences he has to declaim). But other walk-on parts are terrible. Mr Solomonovich, the Jewish cobbler, sounds like Peter Sellars doing a bad Alex Guinness impression. One of the policemen has a London accent so heavy he sounds mentally ill. And the 'Baker Street Irregulars', Holmes' gang of street urchin helpers, have the most appalling accents I've ever heard in anything. They make Heather Graham in From Hell sound like the high watermark of realism. I assume the game designers only hired a few actors to do all the voices, which is why they go to such foolish lengths to sound different for each character.

      The gameplay is OK, I guess. You wander around looking for spots marked as clues, examine or take the relevant items, and then move on when you're done. The first-person view is alright, although you tend to miss things. You can switch to third person view, in which it's easier to spot clues. The problem with this is that the control style is completely different for each different view mode. As you move through an area in third person, the camera angle will change - idiotically, when it does, you then have to change direction on the left stick in order to keep walking forward. This is unintuitive and an obstacle to getting things done.

      The puzzles range from ridiculously easy to incredibly difficult. I ended up looking online for the answers to a few, just because I couldn't be bothered to invest the time and energy necessary to solve them myself. Sometimes what you have to do is extremely badly explained, adding an extra layer of completely unintended difficulty. Certainly when it comes to piecing together timelines and events during the murders themselves, it helps to know a bit about Jack the Ripper. But you could get by without any extra knowledge.

      It's supposedly a realistic recreation of Whitechapel, but although the streets are in roughly the right places, you can only really wander around about eight roads. Likewise, although you can stop anyone you see for a chat, most of them just repeat the same stock phrases at you. This is a fairly small, limited game - and fair enough, it doesn't really need you to be able to wander through the whole of London stopping for a chat with literally anyone, but this just makes it seem all the more old-fashioned.

      Being an Xbox game, there are achievements to unlock, but all but about two of them are given to you for doing things you need to do anyway to progress the plot. For achievement whores this is a very easy 1000 points.

      The game is described as suitable for people aged 16 and over. It obviously deals with sex crimes, and the murder scenes and victims' bodies and mutilations are represented in a cartoony but more or less accurate way (the game chickens out of showing the last and most unpleasant crime scene, though). There's not much real horror going on here, although the final big cut scene does have a few nice moments.

      All in all this is a reasonably diverting game, but not worth paying £15 for. It took me about 8 hours, I think, so you don't have time to get really sick of the game's faults. It obviously has no replayability whatsoever, as once you've solved it, you've solved it. It is, perhaps, a little bit too elementary.

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      • More +
        14.03.2010 22:21
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        If you don't mind shoddy graphics, and want an easy 1000g then this games for you...

        5th in the Sherlock Holmes series from creators Frogwares, they've stepped over to the Xbox as well as the PC this time round. Although I really think they needn't have bothered.
        I had recently played the 2 CSI games on the Xbox, both of which I liked, and thought that this was going to be quite similar in gameplay, but obviously set back in the days of olde' London town in the late 1800's. After thinking this I put it on my rental list for Lovefilm.com and it was waiting for me on my door step a few days ago.

        -Gameplay-

        Set in the dark and dingy streets of Whitechapel in London, the year is 1888 and a mad man has murdered several prostitutes, mutilating their bodies and stealing their organs. Your job is to investigate and track Jack the Ripper's bloody trail and solve one of the greatest mysteries of our capital city.

        Your typical point and click mystery game that is usually seen on the PC, it really isn't that good compared to other games of its sort on the Xbox.
        You get to control Sherlock Holmes himself and Dr Watson in either first or third person perspective. Although I found the controls a little clumsy at first in third person perspective, Playing in 1st person proves easier, as you see angles and clues that may be harder to spot in third person. The game basics are that you approach people and initiate conversations, look for clues, and apply actions.

        The story progresses quite well in some parts, but there are certain "side missions" which are completely pointless and just seem like they were there for the fun of it, to bulk the game out a little more.

        -Graphics-

        Were absolutely terrible to be honest, I'd say around Playstation 2 standard if that. Sherlock Holmes and the rest of the characters looked like ventriloquists puppets when they were talking. I expected the game to be a little rough around the edges, but certainly not as bad as it was. I'm not quite sure what the makers were thinking with the graphics, it wouldn't have been so bad on the PC but I've never seen a game on the Xbox with graphics this bad.

        I was especially disappointed with the graphics when it came to the murder victims; there I was expecting to see really gruesome, gritty pictures of a poor victim of Jack the Ripper. How gutted was I when what popped up on my screen was nothing more than a cartoon dummy of the victim. Yes that's right, a cartoon! Absolutely shoddy in my opinion, they didn't need to show something really graphic (although that would have been pretty good to be honest) but a cartoon dummy? Come on!

        The only good thing I've got to say about the graphics really is the fact that, the streets do actually look pretty eerie. The dark alley ways, and side streets give a real dark, spooky element to the game, but that wouldn't have been so if it wasn't helped along with the music.

        -Sound-

        Unlike the graphics, the sound was actually pretty good. As mentioned above, the streets and alley ways did look quite spooky, but they certainly did feel even spookier with the great sound effects and music used.

        -Longevity-

        It took me about 6hours or so in total to complete the game, but there were no other directions in which the story can go, i.e. different options to choose etc to create a different outcome. It's just 1 straight story, so once you've completed the game, there's really no need to replay it, which is exactly the same with the CSI games too.

        If you're an achievement hunter on the Xbox then this game is definitely for you as it's an easy 1000g (gamerscore) which you can get in one play through.

        -Overall-

        I'm so glad that I didn't fork out any money for this game, I would have been straight back to Gamestation for a refund in all honesty. I think if Frogwares want to release any more Sherlock Holmes games or any games on the Xbox 360 in that matter, they need to sort out their shoddy graphics before they release anything this bad again.

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