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SummaryCSI invades our computer: for the better or the worst
The GoodNot being a real fan of CSI at the time I bought the game (and I'm still not a huge fan), I didn't know that this one would turn me into a fanatic of the videogame series. As stated in my profile, I'm a FPS fan. Not an adventure one. But sometimes, it's good to try others things than "I'm shooting at a bad guy who threatens my world or at a demon or at aliens or at a spy who wants to destroy my beautiful turret" (yep, the last one is a reference to Team Fortress 2).
So, when I first wrote my French review for the game in 2004, I needed to be positive about the game. CSI is a concept that you love or you dislike. And I was feeling that a lot of people was fed up with Grissom's team or was concluding that a game coming from a TV show or a movie is always a mediocre game. Well, CSI isn't... if you're not an adventure hardcore gamer. But I will explain it later.
Story is simple and will be always the same for the next games in the series. You're a rookie in the Las Vegas Graveyard Shift and you'll have the great pleasure to work with Grissom's team. At that time, Greg Sanders, the funny lab technician, wasn't a CSI on the field. So, he's sitting in his lab, waiting for your evidences. Brass is the one who can get you questioning, search or arrest warrants. Robbins is in his morgue for analyzing corpses and for giving you some clues. In other words, nobody from the show was neglected. They're all in the game.
If the plot is weak, cases aren't. From a strangled stripper to a murdered police officer without forgetting a poor rich girl found in a barrel behind her father's casino and a guy whose desk was burned, you'll be not bored. And the last case makes references to previous ones... I love when games make references to another videogame or to previous storylines.
You can also make your own difficulty setting by choosing if you want an arrow pointing to an interesting area or if you want already the good tool for collecting or detecting evidences.
One of the strong points of the game is the fact that the actors themselves are giving their voice to their characters. It makes the game more immersive for a CSI fan. But for a non-CSI fan, it's also a bonus because the actors know their characters better than anyone else.
Graphics are correct. Well, it's not an ugly game but it's not the most beautiful. The engine used for the game is inferior to what was done in 2003. Full 3D was already existing. But CSI didn't use this way of modeling. I mean, you have more the feeling of an half-2D half-3D game.
Soundtrack is also a success. Music isn't ongoing but it was enough for immersing the player into the CSI world. For me, Case 3 has the best soundtrack of the game.
CSI is also an intuitive game: the HUD is very easy to understand. Even if you're not totally free in the lab, you can make your own research for the prints (fingers or tires), chatting on the internet, listening to audio tapes or finding some clues behind a bank sheet for example. You can also use the microscope for comparison between hair, fibers or anything else. But every evidence must be processed by Greg first.
Last point concerns the bonuses at the end of the game. Make 100% in each case and you'll be rewarded by an Expert rank and a bonus: storyboard, CSI cast pictures, etc..
The BadCSI is the first game from the CSI videogame series and it's normal to find some hazardous choices or some "youth" errors. And that's why I found CSI a little frustrating. And if I must play it now, I think that I'll be very frustrated by the gameplay, the graphics or others things. You'll understand why in my bottom line.
First thing very annoying is the HUD. After a few games, that blue banner at the bottom of your screen is boring. Not all evidences can appear on it and you must scroll for reaching what you want.
If the game wasn't so difficult to reach the 100%, perhaps the first negative point wouldn't have been one... Because the real problem of CSI is the fact that if you miss a question, you can't reach that perfect score, even if you had every evidence and didn't ask help to your co-workers. So you understand that seeing everytime that HUD is getting on my nerves and that restarting the case for having your reward is also frustrating. CSI don't let you save your game when you want, you can't go back to a previous one because it's been erased by the next save. And knowing that every save is done when you're entering a location, if you had missed a question, you're doomed to restart the case.
Graphics, even if they are correct, can be a disappointment to graphics purists. And I can understand this point of view, particularly if you're playing it after Hard Evidence, the last opus. But you must have somewhere in your mind that the game was released in 2003.
Last but not least, adventure hardcore gamers will be disappointed by the fact that you don't have so much freedom in the game. You're practically leaded by the game if you don't change settings and even like that, CSI is a linear game. With only 5 short cases, the lifetime is short. Well, it will be a long game if you want at all cost the bonuses. And you'll be falling rapidly from pleasure to frustration.
The Bottom LineSo, CSI is clearly an adventure point&click game. Released in 2003, it's the founder of the CSI videogames series. If CSI can satisfy occasional adventure gamers like me or fans of the TV show, hardcore gamers will avoid it at all cost. You don't have a real freedom because of some difficulty settings, by the fact that everything must go to Greg first and the big negative point is the difficulty to reach 100% because of a missed question or a missed evidence, leading you to restart a case because of the absence of the possibility to save the game.
In 2008, if you don't want to fall completely into frustration, don't go first for the newest game before playing CSI if you're decided to play the first release. If you must choose between CSI and Hard Evidence, go for Hard Evidence. Hard Evidence have a comfortable gameplay and with full 3D.
But if you're a CSI fan, well, play it without hesitating. You will not be disappointed by the stories behind cases.