CSI: Crime Scene Investigation


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    369 Interactive

Publisher:     UBI Soft Entertainment

Released:   2003

PC Requirements:   Win98/2000/XP/ME only: Pentium® II 266 MHz, AMD K6-III 400 (Pentium II 300 MHz, AMD K6-III 500 recommended). 64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended, 256 MB recommended for Win XP). DirectX® 8.1. 4 MB DirectX 8.1 compatible Hardware-accelerated 3D graphics card (8 MB 3D graphics card recommended). Direct X 8.1 compatible Sound Card (16 bit Direct X 8.1 compatible sound card recommended). 12x CD-ROM Drive (Not for use with CD-RW's). 650 MB available hard drive space.

Walkthrough   Walkthrough




by Rick36


Ever since reading the autobiography of Professor Sir Keith Simpson (one of the most eminent and respected names in the history of British forensic detection and medical jurisprudence) at the impressionable age of 16, I have been fascinated by the various elements of criminal detection in all their many and eclectic forms. I have always been particularly interested in the art of forensics and criminal pathology and have often found myself engrossed by somewhat grim accounts of the painstaking collection and examination of evidence and the subsequent logical determinations of how a particular murder was solved.

It is perhaps of little surprise therefore that I was instantly captivated by the engrossing TV series CSI.  For here was a TV drama dedicated solely to the scientific art of forensic criminology, which provided the viewer with an intriguing insight into the systematic analysis, collection and evaluation of forensic data in order to construct a vivid representation of how a particular crime was contrived and executed, ultimately leading to the identification of the perpetrator.

Needless to say, as an ardent adventure gamer also, it is of even less surprise that, when an adventure game based on the CSI TV series was released, I was naturally thrilled and obviously keen to rush out and BAAG it immediately. Unfortunately due to the demands of my job I wasn’t able to acquire a copy of the game until recently, when I persuaded my wife that my eldest son really wanted to purchase the “Medal of Honour” expansion pack with his birthday money and that I would be more than prepared to take all the children into the city, thereby graciously relieving her of this rather burdensome task. It was only upon our return when she compared my son’s modest single game purchase to my bag stuffed full with no less than nine titles that my wife began to suspect that my motives for the shopping trip with the kids might not have been as entirely altruistic as they had first appeared.

Nevertheless, it was not long before the shiny polythene wrapping was consigned to the bin and the computer was humming into life, which is where our review proper begins.

Technical Stuff

As anyone who has read even a handful of my previous reviews will know I am notoriously slack at providing the technical specifications for the games I am reviewing, unintentionally and inadvertently leaving this onerous task to the forum moderators to whom I would like to take this opportunity to apologise humbly and unreservedly. There are two main reasons for this failing. Firstly, I usually find myself penning these reviews from memory when I am 1000’s of miles from home, living temporarily in some third world country with little to entertain myself whilst my games are sitting on a shelf in my study at home rapidly gathering dust. Sadly this is the case in this instance and I cannot recall the specifics.

Secondly, I rarely trouble myself by looking at the operating specifications. The game either works on my PC or it doesn’t. In the event of the latter I usually solicit the assistance of the experts on this site.


In “CSI: The Game” you play a rookie forensic technician fresh from college, brandishing your degree certificate in criminology and itching to put your intellect and skills to work tracking down the bad guys. You have just joined the CSI unit and in the opening sequence you are greeted by the ever stoical Gil Grissom who explains a little of what you will be engaged in while working with his team. All of the TV characters are present to help and guide you through your initial investigations and these are played by the actual TV actors who appear in the series.

The game is composed of five cases for you to investigate and obviously solve. I was pleased with this particular feature of the game, as I had previously had a slight apprehension that if the game had just involved one case there might not have been enough to keep me interested or occupied for any great length of time. (SPOILER ALERT: Pseudo-spoiler coming up relating to the plot, so if you wish to avoid it skip to the next paragraph!) However, having said this it became apparent during the game that the cases were not all separate and that what at first appeared to be completely unrelated cases were actually linked by a single plot theme that was evolving in the background. Depending on how clever you are and how attentive you have been whilst working through the investigations, either sooner or later you could begin to suspect that some of the cases were related. I found this a clever aspect of the game and it certainly heightened my overall enjoyment. Personally, the penny did not drop for me until it was revealed rather obviously in the final case, when in hindsight I could have cottoned on slightly earlier if I had made a few connections, but this does not affect scoring and you are not expected to work this out, it is just a feature of the game that develops as you progress. Oh well, better luck next time I suppose (I shall be ready for the developers in CSI-2!).

On the whole I thought the individual cases were relatively well constructed and believable, though quite short and not desperately difficult. These two features of the game are perhaps my two biggest gripes, but more of this later. The investigations include murder, arson and kidnapping, just a regular day in law enforcement I guess!


In this section I would like to discuss all aspects affecting the gameplay. This includes a discussion on actual game-play, the game interface, graphics and sound.

CSI is a standard full screen first-person completely mouse driven point and click adventure. There are several locations to visit in each investigation. Each location acts as a hub with one main position from which the entire location can be viewed via 360 degree panning. Hotspots in the hub location can be zoomed in on, however, these are generally static 2D rendered images over which you can move the cursor in order to find even smaller hotspots to zero in on to reveal evidence and forensic clues. For example the main hub location may well be a hotel room, which you can pan around to get a view of everything in the room. There may be a body in the hotel room which you can get a closer look at as a 2D rendered image by clicking on the hotspot as the cursor passes over the image of the body, you may then find a smaller hotspot on the body itself such as a wound which you can zero-in on still further to get a better look, examine in more detail, analyse, process and take samples from if possible.

The main complaint here is that exploration around the hub location was very limited and you were only given the basic evidence that you needed to continue with the game, from a few not too difficult to find hotspots. I would have preferred more freedom to ‘sniff’ about, maybe a few red herrings or maybe more evidence, which eventually turns out to be irrelevant or not useful (such as is the case with “Law and Order”). Another feature that could also have been considered would have been the ability to turn off the cursor ‘hotspot’ facility, thereby leaving the crime scene investigation up to the player’s intuition and judgement. I found myself leaving the crime scene feeling rather disappointed because I knew that I had all the evidence I required and that it was evidence that was actually important in some way and would result in the resolution of the investigation; this is certainly not the case in real-life and this did detract quite considerably from the realism factor. 

Another rather disappointing feature of the hubs, is the excessive in-game help provided by your colleagues. While examining a crime scene or location I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated and annoyed at being continually pre-empted by my partner. For instance while panning around a room I would spot something that looked as though it might warrant further investigation, then upon placing the cursor over the spot I was promptly told by my partner the importance of the ‘hotspot’ and to investigate it for x, y and z even before I had had a chance to examine it myself and come to my own conclusions on how to proceed. And there is no way of turning this feature off. There is actually a help system whereby you can ask your partner for assistance if you get stuck on what to do next. This can be facilitated by clicking the cursor on them and asking about something from a pre-determined list of options or by clicking an inventory item on your partner. This is fine, at least you have the luxury of choice, unfortunately, in many instances the partner gives you assistance without any prompting and there is nothing you can do about it (unless you turn the volume down to zero of course).

Lastly, in some instances you are given the opportunity to question witnesses, either at the initial crime scene or at some of the locations you visit. Again this feature of the game is remarkably unintuitive and you are left to run through a list of pre-determined options, to which the witness has a number of predetermined responses. An alternative option here would have been to adopt a “Starship Titanic” approach whereby the player could question the witnesses by typing in questions and the witnesses could respond to keywords, phrases or themes. This would have been far more challenging and the player would have had to rely far more on their own judgement, intuition and deductive reasoning. 

Once you have processed a crime scene you have the option to go back to the laboratory to analyse the evidence and question some of the experts or to go to any other locations, which have become available to you as a result of your initial CSI or the questioning of witnesses. In addition, other locations open up to you as your investigation progresses.

At the lab you have the opportunity to check evidence on a computer database or microscope, however, yet again most of the work is done for you by the lab technician, which leaves you to just click a piece of evidence on him and then merely listen to everything he has determined about it through a variety of analyses. Would it not have been nicer, and certainly more interesting, to have had a go at doing this yourself? Personally I would answer in the affirmative. Sigh! No one takes me seriously around here, I’m just the data-gatherer and tea-boy.

There is also a medical examiner who will give you any pertinent pathological details you need. Lastly, detective inspector Brass is on hand to help out if you need some good old honest-to-goodness police legwork or research or if you need to ask for a warrant to either search, interrogate or arrest.

The game interface is one of the strengths of the game. It is easy to use and quickly mastered. At the bottom of the screen you are given several tabs which open notebooks, inventories of documentary and physical evidence, locations, a case file and the tools of your trade which you will need in order to examine and process crime scenes and collect evidence. I shall not describe these further as getting familiar with your interface and determining how best to use it is one of the more interesting aspects of the game.

You will receive a different partner for each case and finally, when you have solved the case and made an arrest, you will be scored out of a 100% by Grissom. The better your score the better your little bonus at the end of each case. I wish I could tell you that the bonus is worth getting, but unfortunately I can’t because it isn’t. At the end of each case and after your assessment you are treated to a certain number of development sketches and extra graphics (whoopee!

Graphically CSI hardly registers on the Richter Scale of drop-dead gorgeous and breath taking imagery. Technically it is well drawn, well rendered and well-defined, it’s just a bit dull. There is no stunning scenery and you will not be blown away upon entering a new location (as is the case with say the latest Myst offering, Uru, the graphics of which I found completely stunning, especially for a first/third person full movement game, but that’s another story).

Sound – not much to say really. Sound is sound! I did not have the music on and was only subjected to vocalisations and special effects, which were fine and in-keeping with the theme of the game.


In conclusion I suppose I have to answer the timeless question; “Did I enjoy the game?”. Simply, in response to this I would answer yes. Conversely I would also have to answer yes to the question, “Was I disappointed by the game?”.

Overall, I enjoyed “CSI: The Game”, principally due to its compelling subject matter and absorbing storyline. I quite enjoyed exploring the crime scenes and collecting evidence with my forensic technician’s trusty tool kit, though again it got frustrating when I kept being told what or what not to do by my colleague (so what if I cannot use a specific tool at a specific ‘hotspot’ at least let me try and then determine for myself if it is useful or relevant!). I also enjoyed the storyline, which turned out to be far stronger and more immersive than just a collection of separate investigations.

Although you were not given much of a chance of independently solving a great deal in the game, in one’s mind you could see where things were going and make personal deductions, which often turned out to be correct. Lastly, despite its drawbacks I did find the game engrossing.

So what were my main gripes? Well essentially it was too short, too simple and, disappointingly, too shallow. The whole game was over in a matter of hours and this was primarily due to its simplicity and abundant unsolicited help. Similarly, for most of the time you end up merely being a data and evidence gatherer and following the storyline as the clues emerged, primarily without your full involvement. I would have preferred the developers to have taken a more challenging approach and constructed a game that gave you far more of a role in the decision-making, investigative and analytical processes; a role where you made mistakes, followed red herrings and ended up in blind alleys; a role where you chose which analytical technique to employ and where you made the deductions instead of merely being informed of them by a wisecracking lab technician.

Maybe I am asking for too much. Is the above wish list possible in the adventure game genre? I would certainly like to think so, and after having started “Law and Order” (I have just finished my first crime scene investigation) it may well be the answer to my question. Only time will tell.

In the meantime I will buy and play CSI-2, as overall I did enjoy my outing on CSI-1 (though perhaps I will wait until it reaches the discount shelves) and I am keen to see if the developers can improve on the features that I felt let down the first game.

My overall grade for CSI would be B-, though on a less generous day I could well be inclined to go as low as a C++. 

To serve as an addendum, below are a few more beneficial features of the game.

- you cannot die.

- there are no mazes.

- there are no timed puzzles.

- there are no slider puzzles (though I have to say that after reading TallyHo’s excellent sliders solving procedure, these no longer present the headache to me that they once did!).

- there is a very good tutorial session with Grissom at the start of the first case.

- there is a handy autosave when exiting the game.

- the game loads up fully and there is no disk swapping.

All in all, this game is reasonably enjoyable and worth a spin for any adventure gamer, especially new recruits to the genre who could cut their teeth on this offering. Experienced gamers will find it generally unchallenging and short-lived, however, if you like criminal detection and murder mysteries then you really cannot afford to miss it.


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