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Hands On With Guilty Party at E3

by Paul Charchian on Jun 17, 2010 at 08:12 AM

While perusing the vast ocean of AAA titles on the E3 floor, there’s always one small game that you find an affinity for, and want to see promoted better.  For me, it was a family title called Guilty Party.  I spoke with game director Patrick Curry, about this Wii title with a heritage of Clue, 221-B Baker Street, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego , and EA’s classic Murder on the Zinderneuf.

Up to four people will work cooperatively or competitively to solve a mystery.  Each mystery is randomly generated from the game’s database of people, crimes, locations, weapons, and clues. This effectively creates so many variables that no two games are the same, and the replay value is very high.

You’ll adopt one of the many gumshoes working at the Dickens Detective Agency. Your shamus will fly to a globe-spanning location, and begin interrogating suspects.  Some suspects will tell the truth others will lie.  Part of your job is to figure out who is trustworthy, and who isn’t.  There are a wide variety of mini-games that you’ll use to aid your cause.  In one instance, I used my Wiimote to shine my flashlight on a suspect’s face while interrogating him.  By keeping my flashlight on him, I was able to pry a valuable piece of information from him.

Plenty of clues will be uncovered through the game’s vast number of mini-games. I saw a small sample size that included a fingerprint matching game, a lock-picking exercise with tumblers, and a magnifying glass game that challenged me to find hidden objects.  As you cobble together clues, you’ll start building a sketch of the suspect through identifiers such as gender, hair, weight and height.

Both the detectives and suspects in the game are over-the-top, a little silly, and often funny.  The artwork is fantastic, showing tremendous care and polish for the characters and locations.  I played in two locations, a multi-story aquarium exhibit, and a sprawling theater playhouse. 

Part of the reason I like Guilty Party is that it’s a family game without being as ridiculously saccharine as most family games are.  You won’t be spending your time figuring out who moved a kitten’s water bowl. The investigations center on bona fide crimes, like theft and murder, but it’s delivered in a family-appropriate way, like Clue. Guilty Party is a rare game that a family with kids spanning 10+ years can play together, while the parents have just as much fun as the kids.  I estimate that seven-year-olds can play it, yet it definitely has adult appeal.

This is the first game to result from Disney’s purchase of Alex Seropian’s Wideload games in 2009. It hits retail on August 31.