C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation

Review

posted 6/13/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
CSI has been one of the hottest shows the past two years with some great acting and great storylines. I’ve always enjoyed the methods that the investigators used to gather clues in order to piece together what happened. As with a lot of hit TV shows, a game usually comes out of the process and thus CSI: Crime Scene Investigator is available for the PC.

As a new member of the team, you are off to solve various murders using tools that are familiar to anyone that watches the show. All of the actors lend their voices to the game giving it a more authentic feel. Instead of relying on shot footage, all the characters are modeled in 3D. Most of the models are pretty good but there’s a few that are off. Grissom, Warrick, Brass, and Catherine are a few that are modeled pretty well. Greg, I think, needs some work and Sarah’s face seems a bit off to me. You’ll be partnered with each of the five main characters with Brass, Al, and Greg offering their assistance when visited.

There are five crime scenes that you will investigate using 14 forensic tools. As you progress through each crime scene you study every little detail of the scene and are provided with flashbacks that look very similar to those from the TV show. Flashbacks such as showing how a bone was broken are recreated in the CSI style that all the fans love. All the scenes are rendered in 3D allowing you to rotate around the room and zoom in on particular areas. When you find certain clues, they can lead to new areas to examine. At the end of each scenario you get graded on your performance by your skill in finding all the clues and if you asked for any help from your partner. Asking help will deduct points from your final score but your partner is there so that you won’t get stuck for too long and need a little help.

Trying to make a game out of solving crimes by viewing a crime scene doesn’t leave one much choice but to make it a point and click game. The arrow turns green over an area that can be zoomed in closer so that leaves you hunting and pecking around the scene sometimes when you get desperate. CSI does do a good job of providing enough visual clues that you can find out most of the hot spots without having to scroll the cursor around furiously. You’ll pretty much know which detection or gathering tool you use by your partner’s words and on some you’ll know to keep searching with that particular tool. For example, if you want to know when you can use the magnifying glass, your partner will usually keep quiet if you click on an area that needs to be zoomed into. Otherwise, your partner will usually tell you you can’t use that tool here. It does eliminate some of the guesswork on what tool to use when and will help alleviate some frustration.

What also helps is that you don’t have to get all the clues to finish to solve the crimes. Each scenario can be finished with a certain percentage of evidence collected but the more thorough you are the more extras you will unlock. The extras consist of artwork and storyboards for the game. If you do finish all scenarios perfectly you get a set of bonus materials to browse through.


If you enjoy the TV show, you’ll probably enjoy each of the five scenarios. As a fan of the show, I found the stories to be about on par with an above average episode. Of course it wouldn’t be CSI without a twist in the case and the game features a few. I could say more about the five stories but I rather not give away what’s special about them. I will say I found the last one to be intriguing and leave it at that.

The game comes on 3 CDs (Doesn’t anyone produce DVDs of games to help alleviate the multiple CD problem?) and has two installation options. The minimal install will take up about 500MBs and require some CD swapping. The full install takes up 1.5 gigs of HD space but allows you to play without any of the CDs and with quicker load times. The game has rather low requirements but I did experience some stuttering on an AMD Duron 750 system with a Geforce 4 MX 440 and 256MB of ram. The recommended settings are a Pentium II 500MhHz with 256MB of Ram and a 8MB 3D graphics card. On my AMD XP 2200+ system, the game ran flawlessly. I’d say a few notches above my first test system would do you just fine. I also didn’t run into any problems while playing the game.

You won’t get much replay value unless you don’t solve each crime at 100% and even then the bonus materials aren’t really worth playing through again. While it’s not a long or deep game, it should please the fans of the show if they can’t get their CSI fix. The inclusion of TV voice talent was nice and the stories aren’t too shabby. It is still a hunt and peck game with some improvements and there are some gameplay issues that help keep the frustration down to a minimum. The game isn’t really expensive but I think only the fans of the show would plop down the cash for the full price of the game. CSI isn’t a deep game nor is it too hard but there’s not much there after the initial run and hunt and peck games don’t have a long life on computers





C
A nice little compliment to the show, CSI offers a short quick game that will satisfy fans of the show. But the short game has little replay value after going through it.