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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 15, 2006

'Crime Stories' action foiled by plot diversions

By John Breeden II
Washington Post

In "Crime Stories From the Files of Martin Mystere," comic-book professor/detective Martin Mystere must unravel a plot involving an Aztec myth and the secret to eternal life.

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"Crime Stories From the Files of Martin Mystere" (Windows 98/ME/2000/XP; Adventure Co.; rated Teen) is the U.S. version of an adventure game called "Operation Dorian Gray" that was released in Europe last year. Featuring comic book detective Martin Mystere, you are charged with unraveling a murder that develops into a mythical plot featuring an ancient Aztec ritual and the secret to eternal life.

The game is a typical old-school point-and-click adventure. You have to click around the different screens you visit, collecting information and items. As is typical, you really have to search each area or you will miss something, such as a pen or pencil that is difficult to see.

Graphically, the game looks good. Martin looks sharp with his blond pompadour and smart gray suit. All the environments, from his New York home to an ancient Aztec temple, look great.

Unfortunately, despite the graphics and a fantastic plot, the game is extremely dull. The puzzles are quite basic. Instead of using common sense, most require some convoluted series of activities to get around roadblocks.

For example, early in the game, a police officer won't let you in the room with the murder victim's body. (Martin is a professor, not actually a detective.) It's never really explained why the police call him in to investigate murders. Anyway, instead of just talking to the inspector who invited you there (who happens to be in the next room), you have to drive back home, use grease remover to unjam your washing machine and get special papers that you can show the stubborn cop. The whole game is filled with such frustrating scenarios.

There are also long conversations with minor characters who don't advance the plot.

Martin Mystere fans and those who like adventure games might get a kick out of this title, but for everyone else, there are so many better adventure games released this year that "Crime Stories" is best avoided. Otherwise, the real crime might be a feeling that your wallet has been pinched.