Murder, She Solved

Art of Murder: FBI Confidential
Reviewed On
Available For

A classic point and click adventure game, Art of Murder follows new FBI Agent Nicole Bonnet from the dingy streets of New York to the jungles of Peru as she tries to solve her first murder case. The game begins with a slightly funny cut scene in which the senior field agent on a stake out orders you out for coffee and is brutally murdered while you’re gone. The agent, James, manages to cling to life long enough to tell you a cryptic message for his partner.

Your boss removes you from the case and reassigns you to the field agent’s partner, Nick. You of course protest, saying it’s your case and your fault because you weren’t there. You pass James’ message to Nick and the both of you decide in typical crime-show fashion to work the case yourselves.

In the course of trying to find the murderer Nicole gathers evidence, questions people, does field research and manages to get to Peru (and get abducted), giving it all the hallmarks of a made-for-TV crime show. Add in the Mafia ties and internal corruption, and you’re set for prime-time.

The plot was interesting but something about how it was executed kept the game from being more than just mildly entertaining. To be blunt, it was rather boring. Nicole spoke to about 20 people and not once were you able to actually choose your dialogue, making discussions more like reading a dime novel rather than playing an interactive game.

Nicole can die in the game, but it doesn’t happen often or early, making the game loose some of the suspense associated with solving a bizarre series of brutal murders (hard to feel scared when you know you’re perfectly safe).

The graphics however, were gorgeous, with rich and detailed 2D backgrounds and well-rendered 3D people, making it easy to enjoy exploring Nicole’s world. The sounds also help to set the mood, with nice background music, changing from scene to scene and well done voice-acting.

Art of Murder has a few flaws that are more annoyances than anything, such as puzzles that require you to zoom in on an item such as a bank of light switches, and then zoom out to see if you’ve succeeded in turning on all the lights. The zoom in/zoom out gets really annoying after a while and really takes you out of the game, since anyone who wasn’t blind would be able to see the success or failure of most puzzles of this type.

Another annoyance is the mystifying way Nicole seems to see the world. She has "no idea what those are for" when looking at forensic equipment, yet she seems to think lugging around a fire extinguisher is a good idea while in a perfectly safe (and not on fire) museum.

Bizarre item placement (why is the copy paper in the lobby and no where near the printer) is another strange quirk of the game, but like the other issues, fairly minor. All of the flaws are encountered fairly early in the game, so prepare yourself to be scratching your head and going with it for the next twenty hours of game play.

Art includes a nice hint system that highlights areas of interest with little magnifying glass icons, making it easier to figure out exactly what you are supposed to be looking at. Also, by clicking on objects multiple times Nicole will sometimes give you information about what you should be doing. You’ve also got a notebook and PDA that doubles as a phone, making it easy to call your contacts.

Overall the game is solid and would be a good one to play if you happen to have a solid block of time to dedicate to it. Interruptions might help keep it fresh and interesting.

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