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CSI - Crime Scene Investigation


Release date: 04/2003 USA, 05/2003 Germany
Developer: 369 Interactive
Publisher: Ubisoft
Game language: English speech, German subtitles 

Boxshots


USK: 12 years and up

 

A review by  slydos   15th May 2003

 

CSI - Crime Scene Investigation is one of the most successful TV series of the last years. The modern Sherlock Holmeses from nightshift in Las Vegas solve their cases in Germany on the television station VOX each Wednesday with skills and technology.

The series fascinates because of the stories that are told with their usually unexpected turns, but has also an excellent team of actors, top music, exciting and uncommon camera work and cuts and not least an excellent dubbing. The TV-show almost demands to produce an adventure game, what Ubisoft and developers 368 Interactive did. First in the USA, now also in Germany the game can be found on the shelves.

Installation/start

It comes on 3 CDROMs with German manual in a DVD-box. The installation procedure starts when pushing the first CD in and allows selection between full installation (1.5 GB) and minimum (500 MB). (The 1st case is played from CD3, 2. and 3. from CD2 and case 4 and 5 from CD1, if you don't select full installation.) Everything runs smoothly and you reach the main menu fast.

In the options menu we can adjust screen and volume settings. With the beginning of a new game we are asked for our name - as there is no more possibility to save during the game, this is the name, under which we can load the only savegame. Why there are so many save slots, isn't clear as new names can only be assigned when restarting the game.

Honestly said, I had looked foward to a dramatic intro, like the one known from the series with the impressive title theme - but nothing like that, there is only a short pan over Las Vegas with background music and one is immediately in the middle of the first case, a murder in a hotel.

Grissom is at the scene with a policeman and the hotel owner and welcomes you as the new member of the team, who still has to learn. A female speaker voice gives us information (in English) about the game controls, the translation appears at the bottom of the screen. She explains to us, how we can use the investigation tools, how to talk to characters, to get help and how to get to other locations and also practically trains us - we must do, what the voice says, in order to get ahead. Who does not watch out here, can of course reread everything in the German manual. All texts of the game, from simple inscriptions to documents, are precisely translated into German. After this short introduction it's our turn to examine the case.

Controls

CSI is controlled nearly totally and very easy by mouse. (only key is ESC for main menu) We see the scenery in 1st-person-view, whereby the assigned colleagues in each case stay near us. If you click on them, you get additional tipps for solving the case, and (unfortunately without display on screen) taken off points during the final valuation.

One can look at the respective scenarios in 360 degrees smoothly (without pans up or down). While looking around there are strange distortions of perspective, which I never ever noticed in such a manner in any other 360-degrees-game.

Panning around (depending upon mouse speed, faster or more slowly), shows an environment, which seems painted to the inner wall of a cylinder, as with a Praxinoscope from the early days of Cinematography. Hotspots are indicated by a well visible green color change of the cursor, the hotspot areas are often extra large, so that you sometimes inadvertently hit the help function of the CSI-specialist instead of a focused object.

Usually, clicked hotspots are zoomed and can be examined or safekept with the different tools. Also dialogues begin by mouse-click and questions are placed in multiple-choice-style. Regarding the available tools you're close to the TV version: there is e.g. a portable UV lamp to clarify evidence or Luminal to make blood visible. Of course you must click with the tool, which is selected by left-click, on the correct spots, otherwise not much will happen, for example you should use the brush for fingerprints better at the butt than at the barrel of a pistol. There is however to most of our actions a comment of the respective CSI specialist.

Apart from the investigations at the crime scenes we can visit the laboratory with our friend Greg, who actually can comment everything. Besides we use the computer for search, comparisons and chat. A microscope is likewise very useful. Also witnesses can testify on certain evidence. From the pathologist we get explanations about the medical facts and Captain Brass helps us usually, if we need information about suspects.

The interaction bar at the bottom of the screen contains not only different inventories but also the available locations in icon format (similar to King Arthur 1+2). During the individual cases you not only collect objects, but also documents, finger prints, scents and substances. The case file on the lower right side of the screen fills with information about the victims and suspects during dialogues and investigations and also stores film sequences, the short however rapid flashs about the sequence of the events, which are so typical for the TV-show.

CSI is very easy to control even if there are many instruments and tools at first sight.

Graphics

On the one hand there is a large number of detailed, beautiful fixed graphics, e.g. in the pathology, in the laboratory, with witness questionings, where only the respective interlocutor is animated. On the other hand the crime scenes and some other locations with 360 degree vision, which however look not so real because of the distortion of perspective, and they also show no three-dimensional depth.

As said, pans around the own position, which are the only possibility to move for the gamer beside the zoom shots, look as inside a painted drum. One cannot look upward or down, except it is intended by a hotspot.

The characters are discreetly however life-likely animated. Up to Gil Grissom's piercing gaze the digital images look rather like the original actors. Unfortunately they don't move much. If we are once at a scene, they more or less loiter about. The short video scenes are very well merged, however as spectator of the series one wishes the appropriate dramatic music here. Positive in any case, that one can watch all video scenes again for crime reconstruction in the case file. In the whole CSI is graphically comparable with the Nancy Drew series only without the there usual freedom of movement and mobility of the player.

Sound/music/language/texts

I was simply missing the series title music. Thus a special identification mark is lost. Background music is inserted only in the few video scenes and does not work as dramatical, as in the TV-show. The sound effects are discreet however fitting. For the dubbing the original actors of the series were used, which is of course praiseworthy, because one becomes acquainted with their voices. On the other hand the original actors are represented in Germany by excellent dubbing voices, who are really missing - especially Grissom's consise voice - so there's no recognizing value.

The speech translation succeeded well, even if here and there expressions or sentence parts were omitted. That is probably because of the fact that relatively much text should be represented in a relative short time during speaking. Here one cannot read in peace and then click on, but must hurry - not very pleasant, since conversations cannot be repeated.

Puzzles

Altogether the cases are very linear. One has a little freedom regarding the order of the investigations, but can't continue, if a certain evidence or investigation is missing. But it's logical and correct like that, because why should e.g. a search warrant be issued, if the suspicion cannot be verified? On the other hand you may solve cases, without making all investigations or finding all possible evidence. At the end of each case you get an overview evaluated by Grissom, showing how much per cent of evidence you've found. Depending upon result (beginner, investigator, master) one gets more or less bonus material to see.... If you still havn't reached 100%, you can again roll up each case, in order to finally get the last bonus material and the superbonus.

The puzzles are about finding hotspots (like in actual CSI work), to classify and treat the found objects correctly. One uses the basic CSI equipment, 14 Tools, which one can always access under instruments. Additionally the doctor supplies you with the medical facts, the "laboratory rat" Greg gives information about found objects and substances, the computer helps e.g. with finger prints and car tires and Brass summons suspects for questioning.

Often your CSI team mate tells you what to do. It's in each case one of the five leading actors of the series. If you're really stuck, you can ask them about the case, what reduces your score. The degree of difficulty rises during the game and reaches in case 5 an exciting high point. But it doesn't get so difficult that you really can't go on. You solve the tasks in the same way as in the series, the solutions are logical, even if a case appears tricky, or no suspect can be found in the beginning.

Result

CSI runs bug free and smooth without outside help (of walkthroughs etc.). The cases are interesting and let again feel the hands of author Max Allen Collins and the forensic specialist Daniel Holstein, which is also responsible as consultant of the TV series. Unfortunately the typical drama and suspense of the series is missing, what I put down to the fact that there is not much music in general (and not the dramatic title song in special), and one has not much freedom of movement. In addition a saving function during the game and a dubbing with the German voices would have been desirable, which will somewhat disappoint above all the German fans of the series.

Nevertheless CSI makes fun, because also in the PC game there are unexpected turns and surprises, particularly in the last cases. With 6 - 8 hours play time it will take you two evenings, but the final scoring will induce players, to examine the one or other case more close with a fine tooth comb. Beside criminology fans, sleuths, who like e.g. the Nancy Drew series and other detective games, will surely be satisfied. The easy handling, logic and good help function during the whole game makes CSI an excellent adventure for beginners.

Rating: 75 %

 

Adventure-Archiv rating system:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommendable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommandable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)

 

Minimal system requirements:

  • Pentium II 300 Mhz/AMD K6-III 450
  • WIN 98/ME/2000/XP
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 517 MB free space on hard disk
  • 4x CDROM-drive
  • Sound card DirectX 8.1 compatible
  • Graphic card with 8 MB
  • DirectX 8.1 (on CD)

Played on:

  • Windows XP
  • P IV 1,6 GHz
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
  • nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
  • Sound card DirectX-compatible

 

Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 15th May 2003

 

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