Welcome to Las Vegas. You are the new intern joining the city's forensic scientist team. You will have a chance to work alongside expert crime scene investigators as you attempt to solve a series of mysteries. While learning from the best in the field, you may help in the capture of criminals and ensure that justice is served.
On your first night as part of the graveyard shift, you get to meet your supervisor Dr. Gil Grissom. There is no time for a long introduction or a tour of the facilities however. Moments after you meet him, Grissom receives a phone call. There has been a murder at the Champagne Hotel. You will have to join Gil as he heads out to the scene of the crime.
You arrive at the hotel and discover the lifeless body of a young woman. She is tied to the bed and blindfolded with clear signs of injury around her neck. It is time to put your detective skills and equipment into good use. Critical evidence that might lead you to the murderer might be hidden somewhere in this hotel room. Perhaps you can find a partial fingerprint, a small piece of hair, or an item accidentally left behind by the criminal… It will be up to you to make sense of the evidence and track down the killer.
Developed by 369 Interactive, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an adventure game based on the popular TV show of the same name. In the role of a new intern, players join the forensic scientist team featured in the show. The game consists of five cases where players try to solve a crime with the assistance of a different character from the series. Unfortunately, while it does have some good elements, the game ultimately fails to deliver a satisfying experience.
When you start the game, the first thing you will have to do is to create a profile. Once you have a profile, you will be able to select the first case and get to work. After a very brief introduction from Grissom, you will be on your way to the first crime scene and start looking for evidence. The first few minutes of the game have been designed as a tutorial. You will be guided through the basics of using your detection tools, speaking to other characters, and asking your supervisor for a hint. When you complete the tutorial, you will gain full control of your character and carry out the rest of the investigation on your own.
For the most part, all five cases featured in the game work in a similar pattern. You will start by searching through a location for clues. Once you uncover some evidence, you will need to go into the crime lab to conduct some tests. If a dead body was found at the crime scene, you will be able to go into the morgue to obtain details about the autopsy. Assuming you did not miss any key pieces of evidence, based on your findings at the CSI offices you may discover a new location or bring in a suspect for interrogation.
Played from a first-person perspective, CSI uses a mouse-driven interface. When you are visiting a location, moving the mouse to the left or right of the screen will pan the camera. You cannot look up and down in the game. If you bring the mouse over a hotspot, the icon will change color. If the hotspot is an object, clicking on it will allow you to take a closer look. If you are pointing to a character, clicking will initiate a conversation.
Discovering interesting objects is only part of your task. Once you focus on a piece of evidence, you will need to use the appropriate tool to collect it. There are two types of tools at your disposal. Collection tools will help you pick up and transfer evidence to the crime lab without damaging it. You might need to use tweezers to pick up small objects or put on gloves avoid contaminating larger pieces of evidence. You can use the casting kit to take impressions of footprints or swabs to collect DNA samples. On the other hand, detection tools will allow you to better examine various objects to help you find hidden trace evidence. You will get to dust for fingerprints and examine objects under UV light. Luminol will allow you to detect bloodstains while ninhydrin will help you find fingerprints on porous objects.
Once you successfully find and collect evidence, you will have to take it to the CSI offices for further examination. Greg Sanders will be available at the lab during each case to conduct tests on the items you uncover. He will often give you important details that will help with the investigation. He will also compare your findings from multiple locations and tell you if there is a connection between various pieces of evidence. For some objects however, you will have to do the detailed analysis on your own. You will have access to a computer and a microscope. The computer will be particularly helpful as you will need to access it to match trace evidence to entries that might be available in the database.
In addition to working with evidence, you will have a chance to speak with a number of other characters throughout the game. You may either meet witnesses at a crime scene or bring in people you have proven to have a connection to the case for an interrogation. The conversation interface is fairly simple. You are given a selection of questions on the bottom left corner of the screen. You ask the questions by clicking on them and they disappear from your list once you hear the answer. Depending on how the conversation goes, additional topics may become available.
The characters from the CSI cast provide you assistance during each case. They will travel with you to each of the locations associated with the case. While they will not directly help you find clues, they might offer some insight about the evidence you manage to uncover. They can make recommendations on the type of evidence collection tool you should be using. If you are having trouble making progress in the case, you also have the option of asking them questions about the various items you have discovered.
At the end of each case, players are assigned a rating depending on the percentage of evidence you were able to find. If you asked the member of the CSI team assisting you on the case for hints, you get points deducted from your score. Bonus images can be unlocked based on your final ranking in each case. While this may not necessarily interest many players, it does provide some incentive to replay the cases where you might have missed some evidence.
On the surface, CSI does have elements that could be combined to make an engaging adventure game. Hunting down evidence at various locations and interrogating witnesses to unlock the mystery behind five different cases can easily sound interesting to many adventure gamers. The prospect of working with the members of the show's cast can also be appealing. However, there are a series of problems that prevent the game from ultimately offering a satisfying experience.
First of all, even though CSI features five different cases, the game is still rather short. Given the relatively easy difficulty level, experienced adventurers should expect to rapidly get through the game. The cases lack any kind of true complexity. Sure, there is a small twist in each case and there is an underlying storyline that connects some of the mysteries. But you will not find any elaborate plots and you will most likely not feel the excitement of cracking a truly challenging case.
Once you solve a couple of the cases, the game starts feeling rather repetitive and formulaic. You are constantly looking for a small number of clues that then need to be analyzed in the lab, which usually either opens a new location or gives you grounds to bring a suspect in for an interrogation. Even when events escalate and you approach the resolution of a case, this methodical approach fails to create a sense of urgency and excitement.
The overall experience also suffers due to the relatively small number of available locations. Excluding the crime lab, the morgue, and Captain Brass's office, there are no more than three or four places you can visit in the majority of the cases. To make matters worse, you are greatly restricted in how you actually analyze the locations that might be related to the crime. You are typically situated at the center of the location and you pan the camera to look for hotspots. You are not allowed to move around and see areas from various different camera angles. You can't walk into different rooms. For the most part, all you can do is to obtain a close-up view of an object you want to examine and gather the evidence with the right tool.
If you are looking for an engaging adventure game with a solid storyline, challenging puzzles, and a good deal of exploration, you will most certainly be disappointed by CSI. The game does offer a few entertaining moments and the prospect of solving five different cases with the help of the popular TV show's characters. There are no serious problems with the graphics, sound effects, and the voice acting. In fact, fans of the show will likely appreciate seeing the likenesses of the original cast and hearing their voices. However, small number of locations you have to explore in a restricted manner, the tedious nature of the game, and the lack of truly captivating storylines significantly hurt the game. In the end CSI can only be recommended to fans of the show or players are looking for a relatively simple game to spend a few hours.