Reviewed: January 18, 2005
Released: September 30, 2004
Sherlock Holmes, the ever famous sleuth has always gotten his man or woman (sans one). Murder and intrigue await Holmes and Dr. Watson in London once more in Secret of the Silver Earring. Holmes is now investigating the murder of Sir Bromsby, a prominent gentleman in London. Your objective is to investigate every clue and gather information from a variety of characters.
From the beginning, point-and-click seems innovative, but quickly gets old. You have to point-and-click to move, to get clues (and they're not easy to grab, either) and talk to people. This game suffers from a lack of free-range movement, which would have helped out players tremendously. Pointing and clicking is just too monotonous for gamers.
The game plays almost like a mix between a platform and Jeopardy, in the fact that you play levels, and at the end of each level, you are given a quiz, which tests your knowledge on the evidence you've gathered. I personally thought the clues were rather vague and the questions even more so. But vague clues are the trademark of any investigation, I guess.
The menus and submenus are fairly easy to use thankfully. All conversations, evidence and the like are stored here. You can review them during the length of your investigation. You may also use Holmes's chemistry lab as a way of deciphering evidence and clues. The lab was very easy for players to use and pretty fun too. Kudos, Ubisoft.
Holmes's fans are shortchanged because the game is only 20 or so hours long. A longer investigation or more than one investigation may have been the way to go. Perhaps a minor investigation to get players used to the game's mechanics before the main adventure may have been the way to go.
The game, however, stays true to the legend of Sherlock Holmes. This is one of the many things Ubisoft should be congratulated on. Many times do we see warped versions of our favorite characters from TV, books and movies (brr... Pirates of Dark Water...). One nice thing Ubisoft also does for players is give them a very brief strategy guide in the back of the manual.
The graphics are very good and detailed. The characters are very real-looking and detailed to the last facial feature. The locations are also very beautifully designed. Everything is very real looking, from 21 Baker Street to the dark corners of a London graveyard.
Camera control is virtually non-existent, and can be quite a hassle for players, on the other hand. You switch from screen to screen, which has Holmes pointed in a different direction each time. This can make players confused and frustrated. A moving camera would have been a better option for this game.
In terms of sound, Holmes did a great job on the voice acting. Every character, from Holmes to Mrs. Hudson is paired with a voice that perfectly suits them and their speaking style. From Holmes's gentlemanly voice to Watson's inquisitive tone, the voices are awesome.
As for the soundtrack, it was okay. There weren't any catchy theme songs or the like, but at least the background noises made up for the lack of musical quality in the game.
Unfortunately, this game has no replay value, whatsoever. 30 hours of gameplay is not long, if you think about it. The point-and-click feature hurt the game quite a bit. Freer movement would have been a better option. If this had incorporated, the game would have been a lot mor fun to play. The game can definitely be worth the $20 it's worth.
Ubisoft makes a valiant attempt to inject the cunning Holmes into the realm of video games, but the game falls short of what the game could be. Free movement, a slightly better soundtrack and replayability would have helped a lot. Ubisoft did however, stay true to the legend of Holmes, so they'll earn brownie points with players.
The graphics were truly something to be marveled at, if not for the lack of camera control. The voice acting: marvelous. The music and sound could have been better, but are sufficient for this game. A definite must-have for fans of the Holmes series.