|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Frogwares / Spiders||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Focus Home Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 29, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The only downside to Holmes is that the game is a little buggy and looks a tad dated. It's not a terribly big deal, but watching the strange alignments that Holmes' and Watson's character models go through while in survival horror-esque third-person mode (you can switch to first-person at any time for a better view-and easier navigation-of the world around you) is bizarre to watch, like something you'd expect to see in a late nineties PC game that doesn't have all its kinks ironed out.
The game also looks a little basic on the 360, and while the graphics are sharp and clear, the overly-fast and floaty first-person mode hearkens back to PC games like Thief or Unreal-when early 3D engines didn't quite have a feel for realistic weight yet. Other than being a little strange, this isn't much of a problem, though, and it certainly doesn't hurt the gameplay.
The only other thing that strikes me as odd is how the ESRB let this game get away with a Teen rating. Jack the Ripper's horrific violence against his victims is never seen directly (although I would argue that the truly disgusting gore sound effects in the first scene of the game should almost net a Mature rating on their own), but that doesn't mean this game is for kids. It's unlikely they would be very interested in the cerebral style of gameplay anyway, but the narrative, as was true to life, is filled with all kinds of adult subject matter and sexual themes.
First and foremost, this is a game about a man who killed prostitutes, but even aside from that, there's a lot of frank talk and plenty of implication about the game's murders (and moreover the gruesome violence Jack the Ripper inflicts on his victims), the sex trade, venereal disease, and other seedy things. Hell, I didn't even know it was possible to say "vagina" in a video game and still get a Teen rating. I'm glad this stuff is in here, because it would be a disservice to the historical events if it weren't, and furthermore, Holmes' adult subject matter is laid out in pretty clinical terms most of the time. But if you're a parent with a teenager that has some interest in criminal psychology or forensics (or is a fan of Conan Doyle's books), just be prepared to explain some of the game's more mature elements.
That said, though, this is a surprisingly good, fun game, and with any luck, will help introduce the world of Sherlock Holmes-in print-to a larger audience.
CCC Freelance Writer