What happens in Vegas...Stays in Vegas…How about murder?
CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder is the 4th and latest in the series based upon the popular television series. This latest offering brings us back to the heart of “Sin City”. A new developer, Telltale Games, has been brought on board to bring us 5 new murder cases.
|An art dealer returns to his gallery after running an errand only to discover a client of lying in a pool of blood on the floor. No sign of her fiancé or the artist she was to meet. Is this a deal gone wrong or a crime of passion?|
|As a brand new action shooter game is being launched at a game expo, the owner of the company is gunned down in the middle of the display. Could the competition be responsible?|
|An empty apartment….massive amounts of blood. With no sign of a body, how can we be sure who the victim was? Was there a victim at all?|
|A camper found dead in a remote site. No obvious signs of foul play. Evidence points to an unknown woman. Is it the camper’s wife? Or maybe he was having an affair?|
|A body is found stuffed in a crate in a back alley. The deed wasn’t committed here. But, where? And, who would commit such a heinous crime?|
Get ready for some fascinating cases with a ton of unexpected twists and turns in the storyline. This game will keep you guessing up until the very end.
It must be noted that this game contains Blood/Gore, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Tobacco/Drugs and Violence earning its “M” for Mature rating. It is not recommended for anyone under the age of 17.
CSI is a first person point and click adventure. You are the newest detective to join the team. You’ll be greeted by Gil Grissom; head of the CSI Department. For each case, you will get a chance to work with a different member of the CSI team. All the familiar faces are here: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown, Sara Sidle and Greg Sanders.
The game is presented on one CD. It is imperative that your system meets the minimum system requirements. The game relies heavily on 3D graphics and less than the minimum will just not work. My own system met the requirements, but for some reason I had trouble running the game. Upon scouring the forums, at this point I seem to be in the minority. It seems that the majority had no problems. For that reason, personal technical problems experienced will not be in this review. I can only assume at this point that my own computer just didn’t like this game for whatever the reason.
Before you begin the game, take a moment to check out the options at the main menu. The difficulty can be customized to 3 levels. Game assists can also be turned on or off according to the player’s taste. Video can be adjusted to low, medium, or high for optimum performance. Tweaking the audio is also an option. A tutorial is available to get accustomed to the controls and tools.
Each case begins with a briefing from Grissom. The first case is fairly short, but the following four cases are longer than in previous CSI games. Locations can be accessed via the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. In fact, this toolbar is also used to view evidence, review your case file, and access the main menu.
As you examine each new location, you will search for hotspots. The cursor will change to a green arrow indicating an area to examine. When you are close enough to an item, the cursor will change to a toolbox if you are able to manipulate this item further. There are two categories of tools for you to use: Collection and Detection. Collection consists of tools such as latex gloves, tweezers, Mikrosil, adhesive tape, swabs and a camera. These are what you need to pick up your evidence while avoiding contamination. Heck, we’ve all seen those trials where contamination ruined the prosecutor’s case. Detection tools consist of items like fingerprint powder, UV light, Luminol and a USB Data drive. One of the nicer improvements to CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder is the 3D view of evidence items. Once you have collected an item, a screen will pop up allowing you to rotate the item in all directions to search for addition evidence such as fingerprints, hair, or unknown substances.
Evidence can be analyzed in the Mobile Analysis Unit (lab on wheels) or the official lab. You will have access to a DNA Analysis Computer, Trace Evidence Computer (for fingerprints, shoeprints, and special searches), Chemical Analysis Computer, Comparison Microscope and an assembly table (used to assemble & disassemble items). Each piece of lab equipment is simple to use and involves dragging evidence to the appropriate screen and clicking a button or two. However, it was a bit odd that you could search for information on a business card or for cell phone records using the Trace Analysis computer, but you could not look up the address for a person or location. You would have to request that information from Brass. If you have evidence tagging activated, the tag will have a red dot on it when you have done everything you can with it. There seemed to be one glitch in Case 2. There was one piece of alibi testimony that needed to run by Brass. For some reason, Jim Brass would never discuss this testimony despite multiple attempts and replays. Therefore it never got tagged so the assumption points to this for the shortage of 1 piece of evidence in the final statistics.
A case profile is also available from the tool bar. You can review the details on the victim or suspects. Also available for each suspect is an evidence trinity. This is a chart of sorts in the shape of a triangle. As evidence is collect linking a suspect to the victim, it is added to the trinity. The trinity is not necessary in solving the case, but it can help give you fresh ideas on what avenues may need additional follow-up. Periodically check the trinity while working on each case.
Besides the lab, two other locations are always standard: Brass and the morgue. All warrants must be obtained through Jim Brass; the Captain of the Homicide Division. Dr. Robbins at the morgue can give you the insight you need and provide you with animations simulating, for example, a bullet traveling through the body. It’s just like on the TV show that inspired the CSI games.
The music and ambient sounds are classic CSI and stay true to the TV series. The whooshing sound is heard as you zoom in on a vital piece of evidence. If you are in a storefront, you can hear the world outside going by such as voices, cars, or dogs barking.
The 2D backgrounds are really done well and a lot of attention was paid to the details. For each location, you are contained to a single spot in the room. From that spot, arrows on the side of the screen will allow you to pan across each location. It would have been nice to be able to move around, but this technique has been consistent with the CSI series. So, who am I to argue?
The 3D character renderings were…umm…interesting. While the effort is recognized and commendable, there were elements that just seemed off. When in a close up view, the lips move and the eyes crinkle, but it just seemed as if you were interviewing robots in some animatronics museum. The facial movements just didn’t connect with the vocal expression. Speaking of eyes, Dr. Robbins had the strangest looking eyes this reviewer has seen in a long time. The cut scenes, however, were wonderful. The crime re-enactments and the animated coroner details were really quite fascinating. Now, keep in mind that it gets pretty graphic. So, these cut scenes weren’t always a joy to watch. One particular animation at the start of the 5th case was downright gross. Gross? Yes. Could it actually happen in real life? Unfortunately, yes. You’ve had your warning.
Most of the voice acting was realistic and enjoyable. Of particular note was the contractor in case 4. For those of you not residing on the East Coast of the US, you may wonder if people actually sound like that. Certainly not all of us, but that voice has definitely been heard in the area. There were only a couple of characters that could have used a boost of energy (or acting classes).
Overall, this was a good effort by Telltale and Ubisoft. If you’re a CSI fan and your computer is up for the task; be sure to check this game out. With Telltale on board, a bright future for the CSI series should be expected.