Real Crimes Part Two
If asked what I would consider to be the greatest unsolved crime then I would probably opt for those perpetrated by Jack the Ripper (I’m sure I would not be alone in this) closely followed by “Who took the last chocolate biscuit?” (I have my suspicions regarding the latter but the editor continues to protest his innocence). But, like with many others, the Jack the Ripper crimes have a certain morbid fascination. Just who was responsible for the five brutal murders carried out between the end of August and early November 1888 in the Whitechapel area of London? Aiming to satisfy the curiosity engendered by these crimes is the second offering in the Real Crimes series which, not surprisingly, is entitled Real Crimes: Jack the Ripper.
As with the original Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer title, this follow-up offering is a hidden object game that is based on evidence and the murder locations. Rather than a rookie FBI agent and a veteran detective, used in the first Real Crimes outing, you are aided in your investigations into the Jack the Ripper crimes by Melville Macnaghten, Assistant Chief Constable of Old Scotland Yard and Francis Galton, a forensic scientist. The year is 1889, which barely gives enough time for the revulsion of these crimes to fade from popular conception but does ensure that the evidence trail is still relatively fresh.
The game can be played in either Rookie or Detective mode. In the case of the former you can take your time with no restrictions being imposed. A time limit is imposed for those opting for Detective mode. Following a brief introduction to the crimes and the locations, you are thrust into the first hidden object session as you search for a mixed bag of objects, mostly single items but sometimes requiring a specific number of the same item.
As each object is located, it will be removed from a list that runs down the left side of the screen. Just below this list is the Hint feature represented by a police badge. Initially you are given three hints. You can add to or replenish this number by finding an appropriate object located within each scene. For some reason, this particular aspect of the game is not mentioned on the packaging (no help file is provided) or during the various text-only conversations between the two main characters. However I am not giving away any State Secrets by revealing that you need to be on the look out for a police badge in each scene to gain an extra hint.
As well as looking for the listed objects and police badge, you can also collect any fingerprints that might be dotted around the scenes. The use of fingerprints to identify criminals was actually a pet theory of Francis Galton although, at that time, it lacked popular acceptance. Galton does reveal during the game that by collecting fingerprints you do gain extra time but this really only affects those opting for Detective mode.
Before each investigation session, there is a conversational interlude between Macnaghten and Galton. You will need to click the mouse button in order to progress through these cut-scenes. Sometimes these conversations do reveals some interesting snippets.
From time to time you get to try out a puzzle or mini-game. You might need to insert keys into the correct locks; spot the difference between two side-by-side similar scenes; or find matches by turning over cards. A skip option is available if any of these puzzles prove to be too difficult.
While most of the scenes tend to be rather dreary (true to life really), there are some exceptions as you visit a private gentleman’s club or Piccadilly Circus. The various scenes are well drawn with a minimum of animation – in most cases consisting of a few flies doing what they do best. Several of the hidden objects have been integrated into the scenes and might prove difficult to find. There is some background music but this adds little to the atmosphere of this game.
While not quite as easy as The Unicorn Killer, Jack the Ripper is hardly going to stretch you too much. Priced at £9.99 and available as part of Avanquest’s Click & Play catalogue, this game requires an 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 214MB of available hard disk space and support for DirectX 9.0 running Windows XP and later.
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