CSI: Hard Evidence



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   TellTales Games

Publisher:    Ubisoft

Released:  September 2007

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/ME/2000/XP (XP recommended), 1.5 GHz Pentium IV or AMD Athlon (2.4 GHz recommended), 256 (512 MB) RAM, 32 MB Video Card, DirectX 9.0c compatible (64 MB recommended), DirectX 9.0c or higher (on the disk), DVD-ROM,3.5 GB Free disk space, Mouse and Keyboard


Additional Screenshots





by nickie


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 2003.

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 is over.

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.

The game:

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: Hard Evidence

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.

Mature content:

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 violence.”

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.

Grade: B-

October 2007

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