Review by The Purple Pantywaist
CSI goes casual. That is no improvement.
Let's face it, the CSI games have never been the apex of gaming. Still, they could provide an acceptable pixel hunt experience for those who like that kind of game or are fans of the TV shows. With the new installment, there are 2 major changes: First, instead of 3D graphics we get comic like 2D graphics, and instead of pixel hunting and tool usage we get an uninspired sequence of equally uninspired minigames. And well, you play in New York for the first time.
As I said before, graphics are now made in a hand drawn comic style. I have to admit, this is a question of personal preference to a certain degree, and as you can see on my rating, I did not like it a great deal. Nevertheless, the comic graphics do not come with a very high quality. Everything looks somehow childish, sometimes downright ridiculous. This impression deepens when characters are moving, especially within the "murder sequences". I feel this is inappropriate for a game which should simulate a (more or less)realistic tv show. Everything is now in 2D, you can not zoom or change your point of view, but you do not need to do so anyway. Some of the shows characters look more like their portrayals, some less. And then there is this guy in one of the cases, who is supposed to be too old to date a 18-year old - which everybody realizes at first glance - but he looks like he just turned 16.
As in the other installments they hired the actors of the show to speak their roles, therefore voice acting is very good. I must admit, I do not remember anything about the music or the sound effects, so I guess they were somehow okay.
Gameplay & Controls 2/10
Bye bye pixel hunting, hello linear gameplay. All cases include at least one crime scene investigation. In those you are presented a static picture of the crime scene with a dozens of little things lying around, trash, food, cloth, rubber ducks, signs and other stuff, which seems partly out of place. So you have to pick them up. But not each one, just about a third. You do not know, which you shall pick up, so you click wildly on everything. Great fun. After some time, you get hints. In a few cases you have to use one of the objects, you just collected on another objects. This is sometimes reasonable and sometimes you have to guess.
Other regular minigames are: - Finger print- comparison, which works now in form of an unsatisfactory puzzle - Trace chemicals and DNA analysis: You see a lot of molecules or DNA- pieces flying around under a microscope, you have to catch them, draw them to one of 8 corresponding boxes and after doing so long enough, some molecules/DNA- pieces remain - Date base comparison: You have a list of items on the left, and another list of the right. One item is identical. You have to draw a line between those two with your mouse, without touching any other items, which is very awkward to do. Yeah! Great fun! - Find the difference: You are shown two almost identical pictures and you have to look for the differences. Especially autopsies work that way.
There are a few other mini games as well, but those are most common, a few do require logic and combination. The only way of collecting evidence besides this collection mode and the minigames in the lab are finger print dusting, but the game tells you, which evidence has to be treated that way and taking pictures of the deceased victims, which ends in you guessing which part of the victim the game wants you to take a picture of. Mostly you end up guessing wildly (again) and receive a picture of a part you thought you tried already three times anyway.
The game is now completely linear, the game tells you in which order speak to witnesses and suspects, visit places etc and when you are done doing so. The only choice left to you is in which order you do the minigames in the lab. And even that does not work, because if you do not do the minigames in the order the designers supposed you would, you end up working with evidence in a minigame, which you have not even received yet. Interviews are done by clicking on certain terms or showing non related collected evidence randomly. Occasionally you will interview the same persons. And you will ask the same question and you will receive the same answers. Sometimes, if you ask the wrong questions or show the wrong evidence, your "credibility bar" will decrease. If it depletes, you have to restart the whole interview (which normally consists of 2 - 4 questions and showing 1 - 3 pieces of evidence). Don't ask me, what that bar is for.
The stories are okay to good and the characters are interesting, sometimes rather extravagant, as the TV show often is. Nevertheless, the storytelling suffers heavily from the wooden animations. Some conclusions remain illogical, some motives remain absurd and the cases end rather abruptly after identifying the delinquents.
Game length & replay value 3/10
I did not take the time, but the cases seemed rather short to me. There are 4 in total, and a fifth one is promised to be available via download. I see no reason, why they did not include it in the game, and so far (Mid- February 2009) the fifth case was not available for the EU retail version. As the game is story driven, replay value is rather low. Nevertheless you get rankings for completing the cases, which are based primary on your performance in the minigames, so if you somehow enjoyed the minigames, you could try to improve your ranking, if you really like to.
In a nutshell 3/10
The graphics are comic like and do not fit, the gameplay is linear, the vast majority of minigames is neither fun nor original, stories are average, but suffer from bad storytelling; voice acting is good, but that does not help a lot. With a clear conscience I could not recommend that game to people who like good puzzle games or to ordinary fans of the TV show - only to die-hard fans.
Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Product Release: CSI: NY (EU, 01/30/09)
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