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What's up, Holmes?

Jack the Ripper goes head-to-head with Sherlock Holmes

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Published 6/9/2010

Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
Focus Home Interactive
Xbox 360 (Review Copy), PC

Nothing sucked worse than indoor recess. Remember that? Instead of playing basketball or chilling on the monkeybars, you were stuck inside playing fucking Candyland. Though you were redeemed if you were lucky enough to get on the computer to play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Even if it was an undercover social-studies game, the appeal was that you were the super-sleuth using knowledge to hunt down criminals to bring to justice. So, now you're older, and that's kids' stuff, huh? Alright, gumshoe, howzabout we up the stakes? Think you can take down a serial killer? We'll find out in Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's depiction of the detective anti-hero has been faithfully re-created here. While there isn't any real mention of his coke habit, Holmes definitely doesn't think too highly of the cops, and he's a bit of a cocky dickhead. With the Whitechapel District of East London as your backdrop, you control the detective extraordinaire and his trusty assistant Dr. Watson, as they hunt Jack the Ripper. Investigating crime scenes, and forming a network of informants, you'll piece together the motive and methodology of the world's most infamous serial killer. The story does an excellent job of taking you to the real-life murders, offering a moody experience that only gets confusing at the end, where a pretty straightforward story decides to get arty and pretentious.

Ported over to the 360 from last year's PC release, the gameplay definitely has the computer game vibe. While low on action, the crime-scene investigations are quite riveting, as you search for clues, re-enact murders, and piece together your findings. The investigation aspect is the meat of the game; it's as if you're actually working alongside Holmes and Watson, though your interaction with Whitechapel residents teeter-totters a bit.

Your interactions can add depth to the storyline, but it gets pretty annoying at times, with a series of fetch quests that feel like filler. Also, while the game offers both a first- and third-person view, it seems as if the world is covered in molasses in the latter.

Let's face it; no one's going to confuse this with Call of Duty. The experience is primarily a cerebral one, and may turn off those looking for a quick adrenaline fix. But with a moody atmosphere, well-done puzzles and a solid storyline, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper is a pleasant surprise.

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