CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:     TellTale Games

Publisher:    UbiSoft

Released:  March 2006

PC Requirements:   see end of review




Additional Screenshots




by nickie


“As G.K. Chesterson once said, the criminal is the creative artist – the detective only the critic” – Gil Grissom (3 Dimensions of Murder)

You’re a rookie crime scene investigator on the first day of your new job with the Las Vegas crime laboratory. There’s no time to sit and fondle the comparison microscope, as there’s a dead body at the art gallery, and this lady met her death by means most foul. With toolkit at the ready, you enter the crime scene and avail yourself of it with ease. A picture taken, a fingerprint dusted and lifted, a blood sample swabbed. Then on to the Morgue, on to subject interviews, on to follow-up with Captain Brass, and on to the delightful task of analyzing your accumulated evidence with the varied technical equipment in the lab itself. A thorough examination of your evidence will make it clear that further investigation of suspects is in order, and criminal warrants for search and seizure or for arrest beckon. Your first instinct may not be correct, for the stories twist and turn most satisfyingly as hidden motives surface and alibis flourish. With the assistance of fellow CSI Warrick Brown, you ultimately unravel the truth.

However, there’s no time to rest on your laurels, for there are other cases to be solved. There’s a dead body at a gaming convention, a bloody apartment with no body, a dead camper in the wilderness, and finally a fifth case that has ties to elements in the other cases. You’re accompanied at each case by one of the investigators from the hit TV show CSI, and they stand at the ready to be helpful with hints if the need arises.

What is CSI?

In regard to the game, it is based on the top rated drama on network television with some twenty six million weekly viewers and winner of the People’s Choice award for three years in a row. Beginning with CSI, the original TV show that takes place in Las Vegas, there have been spinoffs into CSI series in different parts of the country, such as CSI: Miami, and the newer CSI: New York. Ubisoft publishes the computer games associated with this franchise, and has sold more than 1.6 million units worldwide since releasing their first CSI title in 2003.

In regard to real life, crime scene investigation is the documentation, collection, analysis and preservation of evidence. Photographs and sketches of the scene will be obtained, and then the hunt is on. Fingerprints are the best evidence to collect in many cases, as this will tie the individual to the crime scene. In addition, there are many other items to seek, such as hair and fibers, blood, shoeprints, tire treads, weapons and tool marks, paint, glass, and other fracture matches (matching what is left at the scene with what may be in a subject’s possession), handwriting exemplars, and a myriad of other items specific to the individual scene.

In real life, the crime scene investigator uses his or her skills to access, document, collect, analyze, and preserve the evidence from a crime scene, and often testify in court. They do not question witnesses or subjects, or arrest anyone. They don’t carry a gun. Often they find no evidence whatsoever at a crime scene. For purposes of playing a game, obviously real life would make for a generally dull game with a fragmented story line, so the game has made the crime scene investigator a detective as well.


“I just can’t allow you to go flinging your fingerprint powder around and spritzing your various sprays!” (3 Dimensions of Murder)

CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder is contained on one disk, which must be in the computer drive to play. There is a paper manual, which is duplicated via acrobat reader on the disk itself.

When you begin the game, in addition to the options of graphics quality, volume and subtitles, you have a choice of playing in three different expertise modes or even customizing your own, although you can elect to change this at any time during game play. What you can elect to utilize (or not) to change the difficulty of game play are tool assist, active navigation hotspots, active tool hotspots, and evidence and location tagging.

Utilizing “tool assist,” a correct tool category will be automatically selected for you when the toolbox is opened, and the number of tools from which you select what you need to use is reduced. If you use “active navigation hotspots,” the cursor will change color if it is placed over an area that can be investigated further, and if you use “active tool hotspots” likewise the cursor will change color and the toolbox icon will appear when the cursor is placed over and area in which a tool can be used. If you opt for “evidence and/or location tagging,” a tag will appear indicating when there is no further investigation possible.

As previously mentioned, you can also ask your CSI “partner” for hints, which detracts from your overall score. At the end of each case, your “boss” Gil Grissom will award you with one of three performance ratings, rookie, investigator or master, depending on how many hints were requested. In the two previous games, your rating made a difference in obtaining some extra material after the game was completed, such as artwork. This is no longer the case, and the only purpose of the ratings is to indicate a job well done. Be secretly smug without hints, or ask away, as you choose.

The object in each of the five cases is to gather enough evidence and information to lead to the arrest of a suspect. You’re armed with a variety of real life tools such as fingerprint powders, luminol to detect body secretions such as blood, and a digital camera. Kudos go to the developer for the addition of the camera, which was lacking in the previous CSI games. In the lab itself you have a variety of high-tech computers at hand, such as the comparison microscope, and the DNA analyzer. Not all of these are actually available in real life, but they do make analyzing a lot more fun!

You’re able to talk to witnesses and suspects, and what you are able to ask will depend on what you have learned in the case to that point. Your goal is to show a relationship between the victim, the crime scene, and the suspect. When you can show this relationship (evidence trinity) by a totality of the evidence, you are able to instruct that an arrest warrant be issued, and a confession will soon be forthcoming.

There is a lot of dialog in this game, and if you so choose you can hit the space button on your keyboard to skip through it, and any evidence you receive from it will still be collected. This is a nice feature if you are playing through a second time to better your score.

If this sounds confusing, there’s a tutorial that can be played before you even delve into the five cases. However, there’s no rush during the game, and you can investigate at your leisure. No timed sequences, no mazes, no puzzles outside of the puzzle of investigating a crime scene and bringing the evildoer to justice. Actually there are a couple of shredded letters for you to piece together, if you wish to regard that as a puzzle. Your inventory is the evidence.

This is a point and click game, and some screens can be scrolled from left to right for additional viewing.


“When she’d get mad, she’d get in your face and your teeth and eyeballs would melt” (CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder)

In a departure from the previous CSI games, this game is 3D. The environment is fully modeled, although you are unfortunately restricted from wandering everywhere you would like to go. I longed to look at Grissom’s bug collection, but couldn’t even get an explanation for what the objects were on his shelves. While the objects around you are a vast improvement in this game, the characters are just plain ugly. The lip synching and facial expressions are well done, but the characters themselves are blocky and only vaguely resemble the CSI TV show characters that they are supposed to portray.  More freedom to wander and better character rendering would be a huge improvement for this series.

There are great cut scenes of Las Vegas shown every time you switch to a new location for the first time. Neon abounds as you are taken on a bird’s eye view of the town below, with hundreds of twinkling lights and a dramatic score.  Also, when you recover a crucial piece of evidence, you are treated to a mini-movie, which illustrates what happened as a result of that object coming into play. You can watch the mini-movies as many times as you desire, at any time after they first occur. So stunning is the cinematography that it makes what happens afterward when you switch to game mode all the more jarring.

In addition, when you examine the evidence you have collected, the pop up screen is also in 3D, enabling you to turn the evidence from side to side, or top over bottom. This is a tad sluggish, and sometimes in collecting additional evidence from these screens, the cursor is picky or unresponsive.

The voices are all professional and very good across the board, with most of the CSI regulars doing the voiceovers (the regular actresses for the female staff were not used). The score of instrumental music will be familiar to the fans of the CSI TV show, and it is lovely and subdued, ratcheting up at dramatic moments. The ambient sounds are good, and quite lifelike, with car alarms, door openings, a cat, and various street life noises in the background.


This game is rated M, for Mature, 17+, with a warning for the following: Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Tobacco, and Violence. Since when did games start worrying about tobacco use? That’s a new one on me. OK, there are dead bodies, there’s a lot of blood, and there are some violent re-enactments of crimes. There are references to sexual activity and body fluids. There’s also some salty language here and there, of the sort you would hear on TV.


VISA USA made its first foray into the gaming world in this game, purchasing the right to intersperse itself in the game world. This is common in movies or television, but will this be a new trend in gaming?


“What an unfortunate burst of hyperbole!” (CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder)

Although the characters are blocky and only vaguely resemble the characters on which they are based from the CSI TV show (no doubt incurring the ire of those fans), the cases are interesting with twists and turns, and the innovation of processing the evidence oneself rather than handing it over to a technician is a clear improvement over past games in the series. I especially enjoyed the one case which took place at a video game convention. Although the 3D rendering makes the game world more palatable with the exception of the characters, it is lacking in allowing access to areas other than those utterly necessary for evidence collecting. The close-up of evidence in 3D is sluggish at best.

It is obvious that the developers of this series listen to their fans, for each game in the series has made successful progression through eliminating things that gamers didn’t like, and adding aspects which they have requested. In this spirit, I am giving the game a B, or 75%.


System Requirements:

Supported OS: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

Processor: 1 GHz or better when using video cards which hardware T&L, 2 GHz when using video cards without hardware T&L

RAM: 256 MB (512 recommended)

Video card: 64 MB DirectX 8.1 compliant (Check with the game website if in doubt. Laptops are listed as not supported).

Sound card: DirectX 8.1 compliant

DirectX version: DirectX version 8.1 or higher (DirectX 8.1 included on disc)

Hard drive Space: 1.4 GB

This game contains technology intended to prevent copying that may conflict with some disc and virtual drives.


design copyright © 2006 GameBoomers Group

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