Worth a Look for
the Right Crowd
As a child, I suppose I may have been a bit of an oddity. Instead of dreading my routine visits to the local doctor’s office, I actually looked forward to them. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t elated by the numerous reflex tests, cold stethoscope probes, or even the lollipop I was sure to receive upon my departure. In fact, the only reason I never argued with my parents about these appointments was because of the inevitable time I’d get to spend in the waiting room with several issues of Highlights for Children Magazine.
Although I completely ignored the entirety of their contents except for their Hidden Pictures sections, these basic find-the-hidden-objects visual puzzles always made doctor visits a fair tradeoff in my mind. Fortunately, a similar type of experience can still be had without the need for an examination, medical insurance, or a subscription to a magazine meant for children. Now all that’s necessary is an Xbox 360 and eight hundred Microsoft Points.
Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos looks to provide essentially these same kinds of visual puzzles, with a healthy dose of a “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” theme thrown in for good measure. Players will take on the role of an elite Interpol agent whose main goal it is to capture the dangerous, evil, and evasive Dr. Chaos. However, finding Dr. Chaos isn’t a simple process, as it will require you to locate and take down three of his criminal associates before they’ll eventually give up the whereabouts of their ringleader. Unfortunately, the way in which you ultimately achieve your goal is laughable at best, ridiculously absurd at worst.
Instead of having players do actual police work such as interrogating witnesses or tracking down leads, Interpol just puts you in front of numerous pictures and then requires you to find a certain number of specific hidden objects within each during a set time limit in order to progress. While these pictures are actually supposed to be crime scenes that you are investigating, they often more closely resemble a yard sale or perhaps even the aftermath of a knickknack store’s explosion. When on scene, the list of objects that you will need to find is displayed at the top of the screen. It is then up to you to sift through the incredibly cluttered, single-screen landscape to uncover the necessary evidence in order to continue on with your quest. Although I may not fully understand how finding random, everyday objects such as bananas, helmets, newspapers, umbrellas, or a fly can help you track down criminals, somehow it is just standard practice in the world of Interpol.
Due to the cramped nature of the game’s crime scenes and the overabundance of clutter that litters each, finding all the required objects can actually offer somewhat of a challenge at times. However, in an attempt to make things easier, Interpol provides players with a few helping hands along the way. Players can press the X button at any time in order to utilize a small circular zoom lens. While this lens does make a small area of interest slightly larger, it also tends to make it fairly blurry in the process. Unfortunately, you may still need to make use of this tool to help find some objects, so learning how to balance its benefits against the resulting severe eye strain can become a necessary skill for completing this game.
Even if you can’t manage to find some of the objects you are tasked with uncovering, players can still potentially avoid this unnecessary toll on their eyes by just using one of their hints to help finish inspecting a location. Interpol gives players a few hints per city that can be used to instantly find the more elaborately hidden or relatively tiny objects in an area. Players will also be able to earn additional hints, more time for their clock, and extra points by finding the three special items left behind by the fleeing criminals in each location.
Despite Interpol’s fairly simplistic premise and gameplay, it’s strangely appealing, nostalgic feel makes playing through its entirety quite entertaining. However, this probably has more to do with its incredibly short length than how compelling the actual overall experience is. Even with its eleven different cities and multiple locations per city, Interpol will only take you between two to four hours maximum to fully complete. Since you blaze through the game at such a quick pace, the fairly weak storyline and repetitive gameplay don’t really have a chance to fully set in.
This, probably generous, time estimate becomes even shorter if you take advantage of the up to four player local or online co-op afforded by the game. When playing with friends, several of the games locations can be finished in less than a minute if you work well together. Still, all the included levels can be played through several times without being entirely repetitive, since the game will randomize the objects you need to find for each attempt. There are also a couple of bonus levels waiting to be unlocked that will have you finding discrepancies between two, almost entirely similar pictures.
While it is fairly short, simple, and not particularly impressive in any way, Interpol still somehow manages to be an enjoyable experience. For anyone who enjoys a good word search or visual puzzle, I would definitely suggest picking up this title. The ability to play through multiple times, searching for different items each go around should certainly help to justify its ten dollar price tag to players looking for some sort of longevity from the game as well. However, if you don’t derive pleasure from meticulously combing over pictures, while looking for hidden objects, Interpol won’t do anything to change your mind.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.3 Graphics
The artwork in the game looks decent enough. If only zooming in didn’t make everything terribly blurry. 3.2 Control
There isn’t much to it besides moving a cursor and pressing a button. As such, it works about as well as can be expected, although detection can occasionally cause some minor issues. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
You won’t find any voice work and only a scant number of sound effects, but the music fits the game nicely. 2.2 Play Value
There just isn’t enough to do here, even if you play through the game multiple times looking for different objects. Perhaps an additional mode or two could have given this title a little more substance. 2.5 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.