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SummaryCSI: DI on DS: failure or success?
The GoodSecond CSI game for the DS
I hate when I have that type of behaviour: buying CSI games both on PC and DS just because I want to compare... and unlike CSI: Dark Motives, Deadly Intent: Hidden Cases is an entire exclusive game for Nintendo DS. So, the CSI Deadly Intent you'll find on Wii, 360 and PC is another game. I do think that the DS version is a kind of sequel of the consoles/computer one, anyway, I see it like that.
Anyway, I've bought the two and after playing CSI: Miami and New York in a row (I admit it, it was in November - December 2009), I've decided that it was time for my DS to be in the light again and to play the game on DS first, as I wasn't really ready to play the game Deadly Intent on my PC (it is now and I can already say that I loved it). I don't know why I've that feeling that it would be nice to discover the new CSI on DS. It's probably because it was similar to New York...
So the question which is on your lips is: is that game a total failure or is it THE CSI game on Nintendo's handheld?
Guess what? You're again... a rookie!
Some habits die hard in that series of game and trust me, it's not DI (yeah DI = Deadly Intent) on DS that will be the exception. There is already one so...
New York is the only game in the series to put you in the shoes of a character from the show and neither Telltale for the PC or Other Ocean for the DS version is bringing back that idea.
Welcome back, Rookie's shoes! So, here we go again, you're a rookie in the CSI team in Las Vegas and you'll be solving crimes with the (poor) help from your teammates, set in the Season 9 timeline, post-Grissom's departure but before Riley Adams's goodbye and Sara's return (if that timeline is working with the game? Apparently no, it's like another universe but it's not important here). You have to solve four cases with the help of Willows, Stokes, Sanders and Langston, Brass being always there for the question warrant and Adams doing a special appearance. Robbins is still in his autopsy room and Hodges is now your new Greg Sanders from the first cases, in the lab, doing things for you.
As you can see, the general storyline is not original. What is original are the murders themselves. You'll investigate on a movie set, in a glass casino and on a airsoft playing ground, without forgetting a long case in the world of relaxation and psychological field.
If I'm happy with the stories because they're surprising, I can say that if you've never played a CSI game, the fourth case is just making you go back in the previous cases, which is a strong feature of the series. Only New York on PC isn't really true to that line. But here, I was happy to find my references to what I've solved before. The last case is just a masterpiece... but not for me. I'll tell you in the "baaaaaad, I'm bad" section...
Stylus-based gameplay: forget the D-Pad
CSI: DI - HC is entirely based on the stylus gameplay. Forget about your buttons or your D-PAD, you're not needing it.
So, what do you have to do in this game? First, you have to enter a name for your character. Contrary to the rest of the series, here, the team will use your name during the dialogues, so, finally, I'm feeling less an anonymous and more like a member of their family, which is probably a good point for the game. Missing Grissom or Sidle? Just use their names. My main profile was named Liz Grissom, so, it was pure delight when Catherine was calling me Grissom for example.
If you're used to CSI gameplay, the game will be a semi-surprise for you, as it's mixing old things like the choice of tools and new things, like minigames. I don't know why I'm feeling the following thing: CSI: DI - HC is similar to CSY: NY on PC and if you read my review (on another site, I don't think I've published it here), you do know what I will speak about.
When you're beginning a case, you have a movie about the corpse discovery and when you're playing it for the fifth time, you're really whining about the fact you can't skip scene. Generally, you'll have some dialogues (the first one with Brass is really long) before getting the control.
So, the first thing you're doing is searching the murder/discovery place. Use your stylus for scrolling to the left or right. I just want to point that compared to Dark Motives on DS, the speed of the scroll is slower which means that it's easier for you to stop on the right place. But how to detect an interesting proof? Normally, you have a circle on your screen when you're touching it. This circle will change color if you can do something. Tap on that place and you'll be giving a choice of tools... or not (a single magnifying glass). Why? It means two things: or it's for triggering another movie (greeeeeat I can't skip) or a comment or it's for making a zoom on the scene. My only complaint in this gameplay is for the fifth case: at least two zones are really hard to find and can make you stuck. It's really frustrating when you're passing on the right zone but your circle isn't changing.
If you're giving the choice of tools, just choose wisely what you'll take. But if some are obvious, the right tool is sometimes surprising. For example, in the case 2, you have to find a bandage with blood on it. You think that you can take it with the tweezers, which is something you'll do in the PC series. Well, it's just a pity for you, using the tweezers is making you loose your golden star for the evaluation. No, you have in reality to collect a sample of blood with the tampon. Which means that suddenly, the game isn't as intuitive as it must be or as the series is. When you're collecting a proof, a screen will appear.
The top screen is just used for the dialogues or for a description. Not really useful but still, it can orient you.
When you're done with the place, the phone will be checked with a green V. It means that you've done everything you have to do... at the moment. In some cases, you'll be going back to a place so-called done but only because you need something or because you can access the suspect's place.
So how to come back to the lab? Tap on the phone and you'll access a menu. That menu is composed of four parts: GPS, Proofs, Investigation and Quit. If Quit is obviously the exit when you're fed up of playing, only the GPS will be useful. Indeed, the Proofs part is only showing you what you're currently having as evidence and the Investigation part (I hope it's the right term as my menu was in French) is just there for helping you to remind where you stand in the investigation. It's kinda the triangle of truth you can find in the PC games.
GPS will be your main tool: you're accessing a map with all the places you've unlocked whether they're with the green V or an exclamation point, meaning that you have to go to that location. The Lab is always shown in the right bottom corner of your screen. Tap twice on the red point then on the picture (or twice on the picture for the lab) for travelling there. So, contrary to CSI: NY on PC, you still have a sort of freedom of movement (even if the path is clearly linear in this game - but you do have a choice to go where you want first), which is a recurrent thing in the CSI games. The top screen is just used for showing a large picture of the location.
When you're in the Lab, you'll have three possible offices. Brass's office is only used when you need to interrogate someone when there is sufficient proofs for that, the morgue is where you'll get information about the death thanks to Robbins (and eventually to observe the body with the same mechanics as searching a proof on a crime scene) and the lab is where you'll analyze the evidence.
If minigames are mainly done in the lab, I must say that you can have some when searching for proofs. When you're searching for print, you have to pass your stylus on the screen. When you're hearing a sound of powder being posed, you know that you're in the right place. When you have revealed the print, you have to breathe in the micro. Another one is the use of the adhesive. Not always triggered by the corresponding icon, you have to place your adhesive near the trace you want to take, to use your stylus for making it scroll, pass it on the adhesive for being sure that the proof will be taken and finally, with a simple tap, to remove it. Another minigame is the Luminol: just spray the liquid where you'll find blood for making it appear. The last game I can think is the "empty the garbage" or if you prefer, to remove papers/bottles for revealing something interesting. You can also find a sort of clean the screen but it's appearing more during your analysis than your search on the crime scene. These minigames are so easy to understand that when you know what you'll have to do, you'll do it without letting your teammate finishing the explanation. Yeah, you read right. Each time you're doing a minigame, you'll have the same explanation even when you're used to.
As for the minigames in the Lab, it's not concerning every proof you have to check. When you see an exclamation point near an evidence, it means that it can be processed or by Hodges or by your teammates or by yourself. When it's the last option, you'll get generally minigames. They're pretty much the same in each case. You can find the "search the print" again (you know how it's working) or the "clean the screen". Apart them, you'll have molecular analysis who is a timed minigame (if you take more than 30 seconds, you're missing your gold star at the end). The goal is to reconstitute a molecule with having its shape but not the colors. Indeed, each big point is Red, Blue or Green and for solving the puzzle, each color must match when linking the parts. The only time I've had a shape with color, it was based in reality on the DNA analysis game.
The DNA analysis game is similar to the molecule one and also timed (stay under 1 minute). The difference is that you have all the model with colors. You have to find where the parts shown in the list are going. And you have to rotate the piece for finding the good place. My great complaint about his game is the hardness of it.
You have also non-timed games like the "search the print in the database". Here, you have to choose 2 then 3 then 4 points for a search. The solution isn't the same from a game to another, it's completely random. You can do as much errors as you want, it will not count for your final evaluation. That game can be seen as boring but at least, you don't have the pressure of the time. Another game is the puzzle: not really one you'll get often (DNA, molecule and fingerprints are the most used) but a classic which is easy to solve. Finally, the easier game is the "shoe print puzzle" where you have to reconstitute a shoeprint. Unfortunately, it's only happening one time.
I can't put aside the "reconstitute a bullet" (again a puzzle) or the "spot the difference". That last one is based on the same mechanics (for two different forms): find a difference, tap twice on it for correcting it. Or you have to do it on corrupt data (where you have to be attentive at all) or it's on a paper (much easier to see). It's not really boring but it's just a pity that you don't have more of them.
As you can see, you don't really find original minigames, they're all classic in reality but my problem about them is different. There are games that are easy and not really boring, just repetitive and those who are just hard because of the pressure you're enduring. If the molecular one is something I solved fastly, the DNA analysis was my nightmare.
I've done a real insight of the minigames but I still didn't explain the way of interrogating. If you played CSI: NY, it's a similar gameplay apart that the goal of showing proofs is for making a suspect recognize he's lying. It means that sometimes, you'll be torn between two or three proofs that can fit for showing the lie but only one is the right. When you're making three mistakes, you have to start the interrogation again. And well, do the wrong choice and you can say bye to your golden star. As much as I loved that idea of showing the proof and see the suspect's face changing suddenly, the fact that it wasn't obvious each time is somewhere frustrating me but I can understand the need of not always showing the right path to take. Generally, the two only times I've done a picture of a witness/suspect was during the interrogation. Nearly like in CSI: NY, you have to choose the form of the visage, the nose, the eyes, the hairstyle and the mouth. The game is made for you not to get the right picture at first try, people is only giving a few information first.
So, if I can conclude for the gameplay, it's similar to the first DS game when it comes to search the scene. But CSI: DI - HC is more inspired by CSI: New York than the other CSI games. If compared to NY, you still have the freedom of moves (even if the path is clearly shown), the choose of tools (with some dilemmas) and the return of a more useful morgue. But like in NY, you have minigames and the showing proofs during interrogation. If the majority of the minigames are repetitive (boring at the end) but easy, my great complaint is about the DNA analysis which is hard to do but I can't forget some hard places to find during the fifth cases and the dilemma about some proofs during interrogation or the GPS use.
It's a DS, so, it's not a PC, we're ok on that point. But I've seen better graphics on the GBA or on the DS than what is proposed for that game. I mean, if Dark Motives was just a port of the PC game, DI-HC could have been a sort of port of DI on consoles and computer.
But it's not the same developers, so, they decided for a new style, very colorful, similar to cartoons. If the scenes or the movies are well-done and if indeed, I love the new graphical style, I would have preferred to recognize some members of the team.
I'm not a fan of the CSI TV show, I mean, I enjoy them but I'm more a fan of the video games than the series on TV, which means that it's only now that I discovered that the soundtrack I was praising was... what you were finding during the episodes on TV.
My first impression when I heard the title menu was: "They didn't?". Yes they did. I mean, Other Ocean didn't really search for a new music title. No, they took back the music from Dark Motives or Miami. Not that I don't mind, I love it. But I'm just being disappointed about the lack of novelty in that domain (title music).
But it's true that we have new tracks during the game. The music is ongoing, which is better than Dark Motives DS, the sounds are great and well, I can't say I didn't enjoy the tense track during interrogation. My only regret is the absence of voice acting. It's a DS, I know. But I was playing Max Payne GBA at the time and the game is containing some voice acting, despite being an older game.
Replay value and lifetime
If I remember correctly, it took me at least six or seven hours to finish it but only because I was taking notes. Indeed, you can wrap a case in a hour (even the last one, who is however longer than the others). So, with four cases, I can say that you have for five hours to finish the game.
Unless you're wanting to get your final golden star (and also a golden one in the three fields Collecting, Analyzing and Interrogation), you'll not come back to the game, mainly because of some minigames that you don't want to play again.
The BadSo why wasn't I really flooding with joy for the last case? Déjà-vu. I've seen that case before. You'll say: "The world of the first case is kinda reminding of the fourth case in Dark Motives". Yeah, I agree, it was a dive in the acting world. But the whole plot is different. As for the airsoft case, it's not the first time that you see a crime involving two lovers, again, the whole plot is different. Anyway, in real life, I'm pretty sure that it's always similar cases but we're not in real life.
In the last case, the whole plot is just a paste from CSI: Miami. Just change some settings but for me, having played all CSI games (except Miami on iPhone or CSI mobile phone game), the suspect just did the same psychological move than the Judge Lawford on Miami (PC). I'm not revealing how but I felt like living that case again but in worse. At least, Lawford was still a man of honor.
As much as I would like to describe what I didn't like for the gameplay, everything was already written above. I can quickly resume the nightmares that game give me.
First, the DNA analysis is too hard. As I've said, it's timed, in a sort of 3D and the pieces are just hard to place. I've placed a lot of them in the right place but the rotation that I made after wasn't enough and I lost precious time because the game couldn't correct itself when it was more or less in the right position. Well, if you don't care about your final evaluation, the time will be not a problem. But if you love challenges and by so, caring about the golden stars at the end, the DNA analysis can be your downfall.
Second, it's about the tools you can use on a scene: some are obviously the ones needed for a proof but...you're wrong. The CSI game which is based on intuition is suddenly based on a certain logic. How do you want us to follow it if when you have played the other games, it's totally illogic?
Third is the excess use of the GPS/phone. Instead of making an icon to go directly to the lab, you have to tap on your screen several times. Oh you'll say that it's the same in PC games but at least, I didn't need to pass through several screens for going to the morgue. I mean that every part of the lab is already present in the PC GPS, not in the DS one.
And about the graphics, I must say that I've a problem to recognize people. Apparently, Telltale had also an hard time to do Greg and Riley for the PC version. Ray was clearly easy to identify as Robbins or Brass. Nick and Cath were less recognizable but still, you can identify them quickly. I can't speak for Riley Adams, I don't have her face in mind. But for Greg and Hodges, it's really hard to recognize them, mainly Greg. Indeed, the Greg in this software is not Greg. Hairstyle is just wrong, face isn't the same, well, everything in Greg is wrong. What happened in Other Ocean's mind? What was a good point in the CSI game series is just being crushed here.
The Bottom LineI can't really say that this game is better than the first CSI on DS. They're so different. While Dark Motives was just a port of the PC game, it has at least complex cases, a real freedom of movement and less minigames. It's true that I was really disappointed by Dark Motives on DS, if you read my review but with now Hidden Cases out, I feel like Dark Motives was after all a good game in some fields. CSI: Deadly Intent - Hidden Cases is just a compilation of minigames, with a new way of interrogation if you don't know CSI: New York but I can't really say it's a bad game, I mean, it's really an effort towards of a new gameplay adapted to the DS, with new graphics and a good soundtrack but the lack of variety, the frustrating use of the GPS and the hardness of the DNA analysis are just killing the joy of having an exclusive game to the DS - and not a port from the PC/360/Wii game -, with the new cast and with a not-so-bad gameplay.
So, no, I can't say it's better than Dark Motives, it's just different. And if I'm recommending the game? As usual, only if you're a fan or if you're curious about it. It's not the game of the year but it's not the worse of the year. It's just average and if you want to try it, go ahead. Finally, I'm wondering when CSI will be really being the must-have on DS. I know it would be great but for now, each developer didn't managed to reach the stars, staying always behind. What is missing to the games to reach the same fame as the TV series?