CSI: New York

Genre:   Casual game

Developer:   Ubisoft

Publisher:  Legacy Interactive Inc.

Released:  November 2008

PC Requirements:   Windows® 2000/XP/Vista, Pentium® III 800 MHz (1.2 GHz recommended), 256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended) (Vista 1 GB), 32 MB Direct3D 7.0-compliant video card, 650 MB Drive Space



by flotsam


The successful franchise that is the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) television series has spawned a number of iterations of CSI games. Unfortunately, this New York excursion is not a success. Perhaps if you are ten years old, or if you like doing simple, repetitive puzzles, you will get some enjoyment out of the four episodes on the disc, and will look forward to the bonus episode coming in 2009. Otherwise, like me, you will probably be sorely disappointed.

The game play is pretty much painting by numbers, as you scavenger hunt through single scenes for items to match the silhouettes which slowly appear at the bottom of the screen. Sparkles on the screen will then help guide you to the next element of the crime scene which requires examination.

Finding certain items will trigger a mini-game of some sort, be it dusting for fingerprints or removing all the objects that match identified shapes to leave the odd one out. These games might be explained as DNA identification, or some other crime related investigatory process, but are by and large not terribly crime related in their design. Collecting blood samples, for instance, simply involves tracing the outline, and interviewing witnesses involves clicking on the hotlinked words underlined in the dialogue.

Witnesses can also be asked about inventory items by dragging them onto the witness concerned. A credibility bar appears, and asking about too many irrelevant things will cause the bar to decrease. If it drops to zero, you have to start the interview again.

As you achieve certain things you get little gold, silver or bronze stars, and a final tally at the end of each episode. If you get stuck, you can press the hint button -- and you can skip two puzzles per case. This affects your final tally.

Once you complete the first episode, the second becomes available. You can move on, or redo the first one to try and get a better score.

The game is played from a first person perspective, and the game screens are static, with no movement through them or manipulation of them by the player. Everything you need to move on in the case occurs in that screen. Your inventory items may however be used between screens, and showing the right evidence to the right people is a necessary component of a successful solution.

Ambient sounds add some depth to the game world, and there is some musical accompaniment, as well as little fanfares every time you complete something notable.

The most interesting aspect was the stories, the first one being the pick. The flat graphic style which replaced the 3D character modelling from earlier games suffers greatly by comparison, but I found it had a rudimentary comic book appeal. The characters themselves are static cutouts, although the voice acting is pretty good, with characters from the series being voiced by the actors themselves. Cutscenes are short.

The game automatically saves on exit, and will return you to either that save point or the start of the episode, whichever you choose. If you have several episodes underway at one time, you can be returned to wherever you are up to in the episode you select from the main menu screen.

There is not much more to say. CSI New York is pedestrian and very limited in what it has to offer. Fans of the show should play one of the other CSI games. Earlier games were far more in the adventure game mould, and part of the disappointment in the game was the expectation that it would be similar. There is nothing wrong with changing things a bit, but the final product still needs to be a good one. Even from a casual game perspective, this game lacks much interest. It is to be hoped that if there are any more, they will return to the earlier format.


December 2008

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