This is the fourth computer game in
the series based on the multi-award winning CSI television show which has
some twenty six million viewers. Ubisoft publishes the computer games
associated with this franchise, and prior to this release has sold more
than 1.6 million units worldwide since releasing the first CSI title in
I’m tempted at this point to simply copy a review I’ve
written on a previous CSI game and pass it off as new for this title,
merely changing a few words here and there to describe the cases that are
featured. “Why would you do anything so morally repugnant and mean?” asks
one reader of an early draft of this review. The answer is simple. The
games are practically interchangeable. There has been little progress
made. No great innovations. Case after case, there is the same format. Go
to a crime scene, collect evidence, talk to possible suspects, weed out
the guilty party through no particular brilliance of your own, but because
the game leads you by the hand to do so. Do this five times, and the game
The problem is that the developers don't have to be
innovative. This series -- and anything associated with it -- sells well.
Who am I to argue with success? And I’m not saying that the game isn’t fun
to play, because there is some fun in seeing how the cases develop and
which pieces of evidence will be important to the solution of the case.
It’s just that after you solve the first one or two cases, the motions you
go through in the other cases are smoothly routine. It feels a lot like
taking a vacation in Europe and choosing to eat at McDonald’s.
This is a first person point and click adventure game.
Your character has just been assigned to the Las Vegas Police Department
Crime Laboratory, where you are paired with an experienced crime scene
investigator (CSI) for each of the cases that is your responsibility to
investigate. These senior CSIs are the characters from the television
show. As a rookie investigator, you receive an evaluation after each case
from your boss, Gil Grissom.
As in previous games, the first four cases appear to be
unrelated, and the fifth case shows how some of what has occurred in those
cases is actually related through an overarching story line.
In each case you’ll travel to different locations,
detect, collect and examine evidence, interview subjects and witnesses,
and determine who is responsible for the crime and why. You have at your
disposal a tool kit for the detection and collection of evidence, which
contains items such as luminol to detect bloodstains and various
fingerprint powders. You process your evidence through different high-tech
computers. Only some of these are available to real life CSIs, but the use
of them makes the story flow well.
“Smells like gasoline, but my nose is not a lab.”-
CSI: Hard Evidence
In addition to the options of graphics quality, volume,
and subtitles, you have a choice of customizing the difficulty of game
play. The default setting enables active navigation hotspots (the cursor
changes color if a location can be inspected further); active tool
hotspots (evidence that can be processed will cause the toolbox cursor to
open); evidence tagging (a green tag will appear to show that no further
investigation is needed with an object); location tagging (a green tag
indicates you have collected all evidence from that location); and a
toolbox assist (only the most useful tools will be available for your
selection, and the category of detection or collection is selected for
you). If that isn’t enough to connect the dots and solve the case, you’re
able to ask for hints. In addition, there is a tutorial to explain how
game play works.
“My what on where?”- CSI: Hard Evidence
In a departure from the previous games, you’re able to
view more areas within the crime scene. I was initially glad to see this,
but then it began to feel like I was trying to earn a Girl Scout merit
badge. The problem with having more freedom to explore is you are awarded
a “thoroughness” point for each area you search which contains no
evidence. Obtaining these points is necessary in order to receive a good
evaluation. Even areas which obviously have nothing to do with your case,
unless searched, will count against you. In addition, in many areas of the
game, you are required to collect insects for your boss Grissom, and the
lack of bug collecting will also count against you. There’s something very
strange about that notion. Not that your evaluation really matters – what
a high score does is unlock various items to observe after you’re finished
with the case, such as a trailer for the game. Big whoop to that, I say.
“I don’t know what you’ve been smoking Captain
Brass, but it can’t be legal.”- CSI: Hard Evidence
The graphics of the investigation locations continue to
improve, and the graphics of the characters continue to get worse. The lip
synchronization is approaching awful, with mouths open as though a
morphing machine is being used. The characters are only vaguely
identifiable as their television show counterparts. Travel scenes of Las
Vegas that are shown between locations now have a strange blurriness to
them. The pop-up screen utilized for evidence examination has improved
dramatically, however, and it is no longer a sluggish chore to move
evidence to examine it.
When you recover a crucial piece of evidence, you are
treated to a cut scene showing how that evidence might have a bearing on
the case at hand. This is always done well, and is probably the highlight
of the game.
“I wonder what song your fingerprints will sing if
we check them?”- CSI: Hard Evidence
The music includes identifiable CSI-themed songs, and
the sound effects when evidence is discovered are good. Ambient sound
appears to have decreased since CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder, which handled
it very well. The voiceovers are adequate, but, notably, the dialog has
improved significantly from previous CSI games. Dialog or cut scenes can
be skipped with the use of the space bar.
“I’ll see your warrant and raise it an APB!”- CSI:
This DVD game has one disk that does not have to be in
the drive to play. I was unable to utilize alt/tab, but I suspect that is
computer specific, as I was able to use the windows key with no ill
effect. The game will automatically download any necessary patches or
updates through an internet connection as part of the installation
process. This update proved to be necessary to avoid game crashes. With
the patch, I had no further glitches. Although the automatic update
feature is nice, on each occasion following an update, when you play the
game a page will display saying that an update has failed. Minor problem:
simply click "quit," and the game will begin.
The game automatically saves your progress. You can
return and begin each case again if you wish, but the prior score will be
deleted if you do so.
This game is rated M+, for Over Seventeen. The blurb on
the box says it is rated this way for “Blood and gore, sexual themes and
There is a lot of blood and there are dead bodies
certainly, which one might expect given the nature of the game. There are
also video depictions of crimes and one simulated sex act, which some may
find offensive. Obscenities are sprinkled throughout the game. In
addition, the following themes are part of this game: alternative life
styles, homophobia, white supremacists, adultery, miscarriage, surrogate
mothers, reality shows and arranged marriages.
Sum it up already:
Fans of the CSI television show will probably want this
game. For others, it is a smoothly running game that is fun to play if you
have an interest in detecting and analyzing evidence to solve a virtual
crime. First person point and click. There are no mazes, no timed
sequences, no sound puzzles, no sliders, and you cannot die. But you do
work where there are dead bodies and a lot of gore. Although there are no
color puzzles, on occasion you have to be able to differentiate shades on
collected evidence in order to obtain further evidence (the cursor will
also indicate that there is further evidence to collect if you keep the
default toolbox assist as is). There are obscenities throughout the game,
and some controversial subjects.
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