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Critical Reception: TikGames' Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos, a 'hidden object'-style Xbox Live Arcade release that brings the PC casual genre to consoles, but "doesn't do enough to create or maintain inter
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos, a recent Xbox Live Arcade release that "doesn't do enough to create or maintain interest or excitement," according to recent reviews. Originally released on PC platforms in 2007, TikGames' scavenger 'hidden object' puzzler Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos found its way to Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade downloadable games service last week, at a price of 800 Microsoft Points ($10). The port has been received poorly thus far, and averages a rating of 46 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Andy Eddy at Team Xbox scores Interpol at 7.6 out of 10. "It's basically a search-and-find game like the old Highlights magazines for kids, which would give a picture and a list of items to discover within the picture," he describes. "Here, the software displays an image packed with items, posts a list of items as the top to find and you simply have to click on them to remove them from the picture—and your list." Eddy claims that Interpol's detective-themed storyline falls flat, however. "The game takes you through a series of cities around the globe, and each city has a few search-and-find puzzles you need to clear to finish that city," he says. "The minimal story that runs behind your puzzling has you as a detective, with each puzzle completed bringing you that much closer to finding the criminal on the lam." In terms of gameplay, though, Eddy finds the title to be a compelling play in a group setting. "It's an extremely easy game to play, and it's conducive to more than one player," he writes. "While the multiplayer mode (for local or Xbox Live co-op) is nice for bringing people together to play, I found that my wife was drawn in to my single-player gameplay, making suggestions for where items were located when I was stumped." "Above all, I can see Interpol being a great game to play with a kid," Eddy notes, "because the concept is so simple, but it will really test their skills at scanning the image and finding the objects." 1UP.com's Andrew Hayward gives Interpol a C rating, explaining that the title's print-based gameplay concept faces difficulty in transferring to digital form. "Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos faces the same kind of predicament that Sudoku and crossword games have dealt with in the past: how to best create a digital version of something that can easily (and perhaps more appropriately) be obtained cheaply via print," he begins. Interpol offers little in the way of fun for its $10 price point, according to Hayward. "Spotting small and obscured items within a larger image is a fun diversion, certainly, but fresh expectations come with the move to high definition and a double-digit price," he says. "Interpol neither beats nor significantly falls short of what you'd expect in that regard." "It's an Xbox Live Arcade game with an unnecessary back-story (chase the fugitive!) that relies almost entirely on still images -- calling it dull is more an accurate summation of the experience than a jab at its content," Hayward continues. "And by dull, I don't necessarily mean bad; Interpol won't wow anyone, but my experience with it is perhaps best described as unenthusiastic enjoyment." Hayward feels that the title will be enjoyable for fans of scavenger hunt puzzles, but does nothing to capture the interest of anyone else. "Interpol doesn't do enough to create or maintain interest or excitement," he concludes. "If you're already into the idea of finding hidden items, Interpol will keep you busy for a few hours (including bonus 'spot the difference' puzzles, ala QuickSpot on DS), but if not, the bland interface and narrative are unlikely to win you over." Over at VideoGamer.com, Tom Orry contributes an Interpol review scored at 3 out of 10. "Do you remember Where's Wally? (or Waldo if you're from the US)?" he asks. "He starred in a series of books in which you had to find the stripy jumper wearing character, appearing somewhere in a jumbled mess of activity." "They were good, simple fun for kids," Orry admits, "but they were just that: simple. Interpol from developer TikGames is essentially Where's Wally? with the sense of fun stripped out completely." Orry finds that Interpol's gameplay doesn't work well in the context of a video game. "The game is essentially you looking closely at the image, trying to find the items on your list, using the magnifying glass when needed - and doing this in co-op locally or over Xbox LIVE if you'd prefer," he writes. "To say it's a basic concept for a game is an understatement. It's simply you looking at an image, clicking on things when you find them, and could just as easily have functioned as a board game or book - not exactly what video games are all about." Orry also notes issues with Interpol's barebones presentation and low-resolution zooming functionality. "For a game all about looking at still images, the resolution of the scenes is disappointingly low," he says. "If you're expecting Blade Runner-esque coolness, where you can zoom in on a tiny reflection, pan the camera and then get a pristine view of what looked like a high-res image, you're going to be hugely underwhelmed. All you get is an ugly looking close up of an already rough looking image." "In the end we don't believe Interpol's incredibly simplistic gameplay is worth the 800 MS Point price tag," Orry concludes. "When 800 points can get you one of the best games of 2008 (Geometry Wars 2), this kind of release really isn't acceptable."

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