Gotta hunt those pixels all over the world!
When I first saw screenshots for Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos, I have to confess that I got rather anxious to try it out – it looked like an adventure game taken right out of the early 90s. After finishing it, however, I must return to a common wisdom: Looks can be deceiving. Simply put, Interpol is an adventure game stripped of everything that made an adventure game fun in 1992, while keeping the tedious pixel hunting that was the bane of those early CD-ROM titles and which is, in fact, the whole meat of Interpol.
[image1]The set-up in Interpol is simple – international baddie Dr. Chaos escapes from prison, and it’s up to you, an Interpol agent on vacation to catch the villain and his henchmen. Of the eleven cases, there are groups dedicated to each of the villains being chased, with the final two reserved for Dr. Evi… I mean Chaos.
Comical, though, is how the game claims these missions are "all over the world" – some in the United States, a handful in Europe, and two in Asia – and in famous locales, no doubt. But that doesn’t really matter, since you’ll be spending your time pixel hunting in a control room, whether it’s in some warehouse in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge or a storage rack in the Louvre.
The lack of variety isn’t limited to just the creativity of the developers, either. Each mission is broken up into three or four separate sections, where you have to find a certain number of objects in a still image, in a sort of Where’s Waldo hunt. The items are randomly chosen, but their locations are always the same. The variety of items is also very limited – there’s always an umbrella or a compact disc hiding somewhere.
[image2]Amongst the mandatory items, special signature cards can be acquired in order to unlock a bonus puzzle, unique to the villain you are chasing in the particular mission. To make things a bit easier, the developers included the option to zoom in on the picture, turning the cursor into a magnifying glass. However, getting to zoom in on the still images proves to be more of a step back then a step forward, since the images themselves are of very low quality, turning object hunting into pixel hunting. This is awful in the year 2009, let alone way back in 1992.
If things get too hard, you can resort to a limited number of tips, which will directly indicate where a certain item is. Nifty, isn’t it? It’s like someone in the development team already knew pixel hunting like this would be horribly tedious. After collecting all the items in the final arch mission for the villain you’re chasing after, a special screen puzzle appears in order to arrest the culprit. There’s no explanation of how you’re arresting anyone, or why collecting items helps you along in the investigation. But let’s be honest here. There is no real investigation whatsoever. You are an Interpol agent that can basically change the channel of your TV while vigorously pressing the ‘discover’ button and moving the control stick to find all the items on the screen.
[image3]Achievement junkies can go after the perfect score, not using any hints and by just completing the game capturing the short list of villains. If you can swallow finishing the game, let alone playing it a repetitive number of times, the 200 standard XBLA gamerscore points will come naturally.
There’s no way around it – today’s standards for games are way higher than they were years ago. A game comprising of just pixel hunting, and doing that as badly as Interpol, is simply ridiculous. Take into account that this baby costs 800 Microsoft Points and it rubs salt into an already ghastly wound. As an adventure title, Interpol is the equivalent of taking a car and stripping it of everything that makes it a car and leaving the most tedious task for you to do – changing a tire. Do you want to play a tire-changing game? If you do, give Interpol a whirl.