Travelogue 360: Rome is the second in a series of 3D hidden-object games by Big Fish Games (the first was set in Paris), and it is a great introduction to the genre. If you're already a hidden-object expert, you may find the search a tad easy, but the visuals are exceptional and worth the virtual trip to Rome.
The basic gameplay is simple: Find objects in a screen crowded with images. The names of the objects can be a bit vague, so "mouse" could refer to the mammal or the computer peripheral, which is all part of the fun. What makes the Travelogue games a bit more challenging (and unique!) is the amazing 360 degree view—you are positioned at the centre of an image and, using your preferred navigation method (keyboard, on-screen pointers or on-screen compass), can look up, down and behind you for the requested object, and even zoom in to identify items. This particular game immerses you within some of Rome's most impressive palaces, hotels and even cosy old antique shops and delicatessens. If the 3-dimensional search intimidates you a bit, you can turn off "Expert Challenge" when you're creating a profile—it will cause the list of objects to highlight the names of items that are in your current field of view. Unlike the Hidden Expedition games, the list wraps, so be sure to scroll down to make sure you're not missing anything.
Travelogue 360: Rome - The Curse of the Necklace is held together by a mystery plot. You must find letters and news items related to the disappearance of an entire family—related vaguely to terrorism, insanity and the search for eternal youth. This is the weakest part of the game since you will always find the requested objects. There is, therefore, little challenge to solving the 'mystery'. In addition, the plot doesn't really make that much sense and isn't tremendously compelling. Fortunately, I'm here for the gorgeous visuals, not the plot, and it doesn't really disturb the gameplay—it just doesn't add anything to it.
As you solve each different location, it is added to your travelogue, allowing you to go back and look at the scene without the hidden objects added. When you complete each scene, you'll be rewarded with a Fun Fact about Italian life and history. In between scenes, you have to complete a mini-game, which may be a jigsaw puzzle, card game, spot the difference, word search or object-find by silhouette.
One limitation to the game is that there is limited ability to make it easier or harder. In response to complaints about the highlighting in the word search list, Big Fish has introduced the "Expert Challenge" feature where you can turn highlighting on or off. But even in timed mode, the countdown is nowhere near as challenging as it is in games like the Hidden Expedition series. I am also less than thrilled by the mini-games—I do like Spot the Difference, and the Italian solitaire game is an interesting way to keep with the theme, but I find the jigsaw puzzle too easy and the silhouette game is not very difficult when similarly shaped objects are two millimetres wider than each other.
Hidden object games can be a bit generic in their offerings, but if you've never played one or you're a total addict, Travelogue 360: Rome - The Curse of the Necklace is a gorgeous place to start.