C.S.I. Dark Motives

Review

posted 4/29/2004 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
What aren’t missing are the fantastically rendered reconstructions. These hyper-paced cutscenes grant the viewer a visual reconstruction of events (or hypothesized events) as key evidence is uncovered. Amidst the droll pacing the rest of the game may assume, reconstructions inject a syringe full of adrenaline into the storyline. There is often a gory element incorporated into these cutscenes, contributing heavily to the Mature ESRB rating accompanying detective work in Sin City.

Through five scenarios you’ll be scrounging to put cases together, much of which stem from conversations with victims (if they are alive) and suspects (if they are cooperative.) Many times suspect cooperation is not required, and superlative evidence will allow you to acquire a warrant to search a location or question suspects. Conversation is where the dreaded linear structuring of a CSI game takes root. There are typically only one or two routes to take during any particular questioning, with no reward or penalty associated from posing one question over another. It keeps the story flowing in a sense that feels superficial, when a more multiple choice approach would be much more gratifying. Conversations end up being a patronizing doggy treat when they should be scenarios testing your interrogation skills.

If you manage to corner a suspect in one of those sterile interrogation rooms, and stack up sufficient corroborative evidence, then you may be duly compensated by hearing your prime suspect spill the beans. Soon after, you’ll reunion with Grissom who’ll no doubt commend you for your stellar efforts. But before you receive your evaluation he’s got a few questions for you. Grissom sets you up with five multiple choice questions that will also play into your final score.

Achieving a high enough final grade, you’ll be treated to a huge handful of unlocked bonus material: behind-the-scenes interviews, conceptual art, etc. You’ll likely unlock every item if playing at the beginner level, and there’s virtually zero replayability once you’ve finished a mission, so completing a case from higher difficulty settings gather no greater fruits.

Graphically there is little to complain about. The renditions you see on screen are all very convincing likenesses of the CSI crew, although everyone is firmly rooted to one or two motionless locations, and the lip movements (along with their subtitles) don’t match up 100 percent. The voice acting isn’t quite on par with the show’s caliber, but Grissom and his squad deliver a decent act nonetheless. The static environments are assembled logically and bits of evidence are brushed seamlessly into the backgrounds.

Notoriously missing from the game’s intro theme is the classic “Who Are You” from The Who. Instead there are the technovibe mood-setting compositions from John M. Keane who is currently in his fourth season with CSI. The indoor and outdoor ambience of each scene is interspersed with appropriate background noise, and Keane’s haunting synth sounds take the backseat as necessary.

Collecting actual evidence is fairly easy after your first go-round, and interrogations are a walk in the park. To wit, CSI is all about analyzing orgies of evidence. Fans of the series already know this and will be thrilled to take part in the action, while this uneven focus may alienate non-fans. With no gunfights and no car chases and no flashy explosions in this cop show, CSI seems the antithesis of a Bruckheimer production (try Bad Boys II, try Pirates of the Caribbean, or try Armageddon for some typical Bruckheimer fare.) Make no mistake: Dark Motives is a commendable effort in translating a hit TV series onto a PC screen. CSI enthusiasts can’t pass this title up, but the hype could easily be lost on the other 260 million Americans that don’t watch the show.


C
Navigate the City That Never Sleeps with the original CSI cast through five twist-and-turn cases. Followers of the series will find the scenarios true to form, but outsiders may be left searching for a motive to buy into the show’s success.


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