IGN Review of Women's Murder Club: Games of Passion
If I ever decide to murder someone, I owe James Patterson and THQ a thank you. The new Women's Murder Club game on Nintendo DS taught me how to avoid getting caught. Rule 1: Don't hide your murder weapon in plain sight, like on top of a grandfather clock or on a park bench. Rule 2: Don't leave incriminating documents out on your desk if you plan on inviting a homicide detective in for a chat. Rule 3: Don't let your victim take photos of you before you murder them.
Based on the James Patterson novels, Women's Murder Club puts you in the shoes of Detective Lindsay Boxer as she and her friends attempt to solve a series of seemingly unrelated murders. Solving crimes boils down to a series of mini-games, all suitable for the DS' touch screen.
Things typically begin with clearing out the scene of the crime. See, Lindsay can't investigate the scene until she removes a dozen or so objects obscuring the real evidence. Things like stray soda cans, a logo of the sun on the side of a dumpster, etc. After that, the tasks vary. Sometimes you'll need to continue to search the crime scene for a specific list of items or you might have to win a game of solo Mahjong to uncover a suicide note. There's a good variety, actually. As hunt-and-click games go, this one's the least boring I've played. And it's got some good humor too. Most crime scenes have a half-dozen or more potential murder weapons stashed in the oddest of places – hanging from a tree limb, poking out of a picnic basket, or in the hands of a curious squirrel. And on occasion the characters will mention that absurdity.
The biggest downside to this three-hour mystery, aside from the fact that the story itself is like a bad Lifetime Network movie, is that the game fails to recognize the items you select in a crime scene. I used two different DS' while playing Women's Murder Club and on both I had to tap numerous times over an object before it was selected. The target area for each item in a crowded scene tends to be small and off-center, which leads to some real frustration.
Outside of the regular ol' mystery, there are some extra bonuses. Women's Murder Club includes a full version of Mahjong. No, not the true competitive Mahjong, but the single-player-clear-the-tiles-off-the-screen variety. It's such a simple but addictive game. If you own a DSi, you have access to more than a half-dozen bonus stories. These crime tales are set up like Mad Libs. You're given a list of things to photograph with your DSi camera. These are then inserted into the game and a story is told using your friends and household objects. It's actually a really fun and inventive game. Sure, the stories are pretty dumb, but so is Mad Libs. I wish this was the whole game, actually, as seeing my co-workers implicated in heinous crimes is more fun than solving a standard Women's Murder Club mystery.
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