Review by sonic479

"Carmen Sandiego, mastermind criminal"

If you want a game that is about action and has a bunch of fighting involved in it, this is NOT the game for you. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is a puzzle game and require the use of the brain in order to play.

Carmen Sandiego is a mastermind criminal that steals many treasures across the globe. She uses her followers to help steal them. You, along with ACME, which is a detective agency, must arrest her followers and take back what they stole and follow the clues along to arrest Carmen Sandiego.
The story just seems so bland, as there isn't any variety in it. There could have been a better one rather than a story where there is just a mastermind criminal using other people to help steal precious items.

Gameplay - 8/10
As mentioned before, this game is a puzzle game so if you hate using your brain, then you wouldn't like this game. On the other hand though, it is actually a thrill to play despite using your head.

There is basically a procedure that is presented throughout the whole game. You are first presented with a crime provided by "The Chief". You are basically going to head for the location of where the crime is. Then you need to search for clues to where the thief went and what the thief looks like which is by either finding hints on the ground or by asking the locals for the location. As you get clues, you need to create a warrant (a sketch of the thief) in order to actually arrest them. You must also head for the next location and the next location until you actually find who you are looking for. Then you make the arrest.
That is basically how the entire procedure goes for the game. It looks a slight boring but it is actually interesting, due to the fact that like any other game, there are also limits of what you can do.

As this game is called Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, this game basically takes you around the globe to various countries and there are quite a handful of them in this game. Essentially, not only a player will be able to have fun with the game, but will also be able to pick up a few facts here and there about the country. As there are many countries around the world, this game will prove to be difficult in various times, as you can't just randomly go from countries to countries, which brings us to the next point: being able to know where to go.

Clues are absolutely essential to even complete the game. For one, it tells about where the thief went, and the other, what the thief actually looks like. Unfortunately though, the clues are downright hard to figure out because most of the time, you won't know what they are talking about unless you know everything about each country and I seriously doubt that. Luckily, to make it easier, there is a world almanac and a large database filled with info in order to help figure out what they are saying. Clues usually range from simple understanding of a country to something you never knew about a country and only a geographer would know. For example, a simple clue would sound like "I hear that they saw a suspicious person lurking around at the Eiffel Tower". Obviously, the Eiffel Tower is located in France and so you head there. An example of a complex clue would be like "The person headed to take pictures of one of the most active volcanoes in the heart of Africa". No doubt, you won't be able to know unless you search through it in the database.

In games, there are limitations of how far you can go before it is considered "Game over". This game is no different. The "life system" in this game is your battery packed energy (yes, it is weird). Whenever you start a new case, the energy is full. As you travel around the world, talking to the locals, and using the database to search for things quickly, you use up some of it. Therefore, you can't just go around to random countries and know that one of them will be correct. Nope, you actually have to choose wisely, especially the fact that you will have to definitely travel around to many of them for one case. Once you run out though, you lose and the case is over and the thief managed to get away. So you will need to start a new case.

As the game progresses and you arrest the thieves one by one, the game becomes harder. What this means is that you will need to travel to more places and the clues become a slight more complex. Matter of fact, it becomes very difficult that eventually, guessing is the only option left, since if you do anything else, you won't have enough energy to go to another country. It's that hard, the energy is a huge factor upon reaching to a higher level. This means that there are also ranks. As you solve more and more cases, you achieve a higher rank as a detective. The gameplay is very challenging so that makes the fun part out of it.

Graphics - 9/10
The graphics are absolutely astounding. They are actually based upon locations you would actually see in real life. Every filler of it, from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA to even the Great Wall of China in China. You could easily see the details of the location and if you were to actually go to that location and look at it from the exact view, it is exactly the same! That is unbelievable. The graphics are fantastic for this reason. Not to mention the fact that there is a day and night feature as well. The time zones as you cross the countries are actually correct, and day and night actually exists. Looking at the skies and seeing whether it is dark or light makes it more realistic. Actually, almost everything is realistic. The only slight downside is that the locals aren't beautifully drawn as the countries themselves. The people are a slight cartoonish compared to the background settings, but that does not matter as the complexity of them might have ruined the game a lot.

Music/Sound - 9/10
The music is certainly great in the way that they aren't bad to listen to. All of the countries have a specific music and it is native to that country. For example, if it were in USA, the music would sound more urban. It fits the theme very well and it doesn't get old. The downside is the music of the plane flights where you go from one country to another. Changing from gentle style type of music to rock style of music is not the best way to give intervals of traveling countries. But it isn't that much and it is very easy to get use to it and becomes just as good as the rest of the music. The sound is also great, as there aren't a lot of it. The voices for the local people aren't spectacular but they don't hurt the ears either so an excellent job on this.

Replay Value - 7/10
A lot of crimes to solve and the game becomes more complex as you progress and solve other ones. Certainly, it is going to take a while before you actually solve the number of crimes there are. On the other hand though, once you do complete all of the crimes, then there is not much point left and that is where the bad part about it is. But for a one time playthrough, it is certainly long-lasting.

Overall - 8/10
Overall, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is a game that is entertaining and lasts for a while. It is fun and educational while playing around, and it is also challenging. This makes the game a definite game to play.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/28/05, Updated 12/26/06

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