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Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis

Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis

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Developer Frogware bring together Conan Doyle’s legendary Sherlock Holmes and Maurice LeBlanc’s Arsene Lupin in a rather unusual adventure style battle of wits. Is this a refreshing twist on a tried and tested formula or a waste of time?

The introduction puts you in the familiar streets of Sherlock Holmes London town. The year is 1895 and Holmes is playing the violin as trusty sidekick Dr. Watson rabbits on about how he should best spend the day. As they discuss Arsene Lupin it becomes clear to Dr. Watson that Holmes is developing a keen interest in the formidable rogue. Sorting through the mail they discover that a letter has arrived from Lupin himself inviting Holmes to prevent him from stealing five of England’s most valuable treasures. It is apparent that this is not only a battle of wits but indeed a matter of honour and ego for both parties.

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Nemesis is an adventure game set in first person mode with an intriguing and fully featured 3d environment for the gamer to explore. The focus is obviously on Holmes for the majority of the game, however you occasionally take control of Dr. Watson as he handles some of the side quest duties. There is one time you even get to play as Inspector Lestrade. Anyone used to a standard FPS will find the game easy to control, you simply use the WASD keys to move and the mouse to look around the environment. As I briefly mentioned earlier, the environment is fully featured, however this proves to add a certain complexity and frustration into the game play as certain areas end up with the player transversing huge areas of terrain in the furious hunt for interactive pixels. Icons do appear when something of interest appears in view but you have to be relatively close and take your time with the mouse manevours otherwise they are easily missed.

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Sadly, there is also a huge amount of backtracking as key elements don’t “appear” until certain parts of the game have been reached. This is also an extremely irritating game feature which lowered my enjoyment of the game, especially when from time to time Holmes himself would acknowledge an item and not take it until later when he found it worthy of his inventory. You also cannot advance in specific areas until you have studied everything around you even if you are aware of what needs to be done to progress to the next section. The menu systems also lack a list of objectives so you are frequently flying by wire. I strongly feel that play testing was either not held over a long enough period or was handled by a small group of semi retarded chimpanzees from Outer Mongolia.

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Equally annoying are the diversity in complexity of the puzzles. Some are so easy that even a small child would master them quickly while others are so mind numbingly convoluted that unless you have the power to read the code behind the screen you will be stuck for a long time, or will resort to reading one of the walkthroughs online (yes I am guilty). If your knowledge of history is weak then this game will prove to be nigh on impossible.

Thankfully there is a map system that lets you jump from one area to another and this saves you considerable time, especially with the amount of back tracking involved, however the game still seems slowly paced as you teleport back and forward collecting items to move further onwards. Right clicking the mouse gives you quick access to your inventory, documents and map and the game does track all dialogue so backtracking is made much easier if something is forgotten. It also tracks clues left by Lupin, so in reality you are not often needed to write down your own notes as the game tracks and stores most of the useless information you will need to recall.

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Graphically, the game is acceptable for an adventure game, and the animations vary from polished to unfinished. Holmes is reasonably well animated and gives the impression of being a stuffy intellectual while Lupine is much lighter on his feet and looks more at ease with the physical side of things. The backgrounds are very well detailed such as the National Gallery Of Paintings or Buckingham Palace, this is definitely one of the games major strengths, the attention to detail on the surroundings and overall environmental setting. It is clear that the designers spent considerable time when building areas such as the Museum.

Voice acting isn’t quite so positive with many of the voices sounding forced and amateurish on many levels. The music however is excellent and sets the mood very well for Victorian London, most of the audio is classical with a mixture of piano and violin, which is perfect for such a setting. I can’t see AC/DC’s “Back In Black” working in this setting.

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Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis is a strong Adventure title for those of you with patience and the love to hunt through environments while solving a wide array of puzzles. The 3d environment works and looks well, however it adds a certain level of additional difficulty when finding specific objects is extremely difficult. The storyline is, rather unfortunately, neither engrossing or original and seems to have many ideas from almost every crime film I can remember. For dedicated puzzle solvers this game will prove a challenge and a good distraction, but for the rest of us, the pixel hunting and backtracking ruins it.

Entertaining if you have a lot of time to dedicate.
Good for the genre and some of the environments are well detailed.
Poor voice-acting but the music helps to set the mood.
Backtracking will annoy the faint of heart and probably everyone else too.
(Not an Average)
A rather mundane game in a competitive environment.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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