You play the role of a homicide detective, investigating a case with next to no clues or leads. From the beginning (identifying the body) to the end (naturally, catching the bad guy), this game is real. As you discover each new clue from interviewing the dozens upon dozens of people, or analyzing evidence, you may find a suspect (or like me, many suspects). Now you have the job of gathering and classifying supporting evidence.
Unfortunately, since this game is truly realistic, you have to do everything yourself. And no, you can't falsify evidence (I tried unsuccessfully). You'll just have to do everything by hand. You have your trusty notebook within which all the information you've gathered thus far is stored. Using that information, you try to solve the mystery. Unfortunately, some information may be false since it's possible that not everyone is telling you the truth. Some info may contradict other info... you know, like one person says that the other person did it, and that person says that they other person is lying... so who do you believe? Should you believe either of them? After you talk to some people, you may want to check up on what they've told you by driving over to the residence(s) of the person(s) in question who may be able to verify the facts.
A cool aspect of the game is the fact that it is in no way linear. Not only does the investigation lead you down MANY different paths, but the game is time based. Like all police officers, you work 9 to 9, and if you work over-time, since the department is poor, you have to start that many hours later the next morning, and still stop at 9pm. Certain stores, restaurants, etc. (like all of them) are only open on certain days (Sundays are off, Saturdays are few, and the rest always vary), and even then they're open for a different number of hours. Sometimes they may still be open, but you'll find 'different' people there.
As a cop, you are supplied with the typical predecessor-to-PC/XT-police-department-issue-crime-computer. What I find intriguing is that I can actually see the coppers having to use something like this (hopefully at least a half-century ago, of course). It's much more realistic than the relatively high-tech world of the Police Quest series, where everything was at the push of a button. Say you want to identify a body at the morgue... you'd first have to specify what features you're looking for (sort of a morbid dating service type interface, not that I would know anything about that, and stop looking at me like that!).
Most of the game is just like a movie, at least the sequences where you talk to people, and they are many. Though the video is slightly lower-res than I would have hoped for, I realize that this game COULD have been well over 5 CDs, had that been the case. A nice feature is that people RARELY say the same thing twice, and that only happens when you ask the same questions. Some may give a similar response, but it's always slightly different, usually based on the character's attitude.
Another unexpected bonus is the acting. Most of it is actually good! It's pretty hard to really get bored with or annoyed at the mini-movies, and if you do, you can always skip them. There's no harm in doing so. Although it isn't as complex action-wise, the graphics system in SFPD would best be compared to that of Phantasmagoria and Gabriel Knight II. All other still graphics in the game are digitized, and it's not the crappy digitization you might expect. Graphics are generally nicely done and go well with the clips.
Sound is as good, if not better than, the graphics. From the classic detective-like music in the beginning, to the voices of the actors. Though the music was somewhat overplayed (if you ask me), it was still enjoyable, mainly because almost every location has new music which suits the mood associated with it (also based on time of day).
Sound effects are plentiful and well done, since most of the gameplay involves talking with people, they'd better be. Other than those played during interviews though, I didn't notice too many other effects. One of them is your (anti-)crime computer booting up...
I'd recommend this game to anyone who is intellectually inclined, or to just about anyone with half a brain. Die hard action fanatics may not like it quite so much. This is more of a police simulation than an adventure game, and you can count on the highs and lows of that profession to be portrayed with great realism.
SFPD Homicide / Case File: The Body in the Bay is a point-and-click adventure game based mostly on FMV and photo graphics, with the player taking up the role of a San Francisco Police Department detective tasked with clearing up a series of murders. The character is San Francisco's newest homicide detective and teams up with a real investigator who acts as a partner and a guide. The case starts with a 50-something white male found floating in the bay near Pier 91, bound and gagged. The player's tasks encompass examining crime scenes and securing evidence as well as interrogating witnesses and suspects to uncover the identity of the serial killer. Using evidence, clues and procedures from the actual case, the detective explores the victim's life, vices and secret passions. Along the way, more than 40 characters from his life are met as the case takes the detective from the city's posh nightclubs to its deserted piers.
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