CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

(PC - UbiSoft)
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Dude, why can’t games based on TV ever be good? With the exception of some Star Trek tie-ins, most television show’s computer games suck. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation doesn’t suck, as such: It’s just unchallenging and will be over in a couple of hours.

The main gameplay of CSI revolves around helping the CSI team solve crimes by proving a suspect had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime. You first investigate a crime scene using high-tech tools to find and collect evidence, and then take the evidence to the lab to get analyzed or perform tests yourself. After checking with the coroner (if there’s a victim), you work with the police liaison to arrange interrogations with the suspects. Each facet of your investigation can open up new locations or suspects to investigate, and you repeat the process until you have your perp.

The problem is that you’ll finish this game in a day, even if you're too stoned out of your gourd to speed-dial Domino’s. At crime scenes, you’ll find highlighted spots to investigate and then try all the tools until you find and collect evidence. You dump it at the lab and use the microscope or computer to find out more, and run through the dialog tree in investigations. The only way you can’t catch the criminal is if you do things in the wrong order – like an interrogation before you have all the evidence – which will mean a painful redo of the entire case. The game does have a good tutorial, the well-organized interface makes keeping track of everything very easy, and there’s some reply value in trying to find 100% of the evidence without using any help.

The big selling point for this game is that it uses the actual voices and likenesses of the TV actors. While this is true, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. The characters look like demon-invented simulacrums of the real people, with slightly wrong features, jerky movement, soulless gazes, and voices unsyncopated with their mouths. It’s like reality on a bad acid trip. And you’ll be sick to death of their repeated canned dialog after you hear it for the third time, especially if you are re-doing a case.

In its defense, CSI is only $30. But with only five cases that take about an hour each to solve, it still isn’t worth the money. If UbiSoft starts offering downloadable cases, it’s a different story, but no plans seem to be in the works. Fans of the TV show will probably pick this one up, but be prepared for horrific nightmares of your favorite actors turned into Satan’s dolls.