CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 2: Dark Motives
Review by Old
"Other than Being Dead, He's in Excellent Condition"
For those of us addicted to the CSI TV series (the original,
not the upstart Miami spin-off), such droll understatements, plays
on words and witticisms from Gil Grissom of the Las Vegas CSI team
are music to our ears. A year ago, Ubisoft gave us one of very best
game/show tie-ins with CSI.
This spring, they have produced a fine follow-up, still featuring
voices and likenesses of the TV show cast, a greater degree of difficulty,
and about twice the gameplay length.
In case you're unfamiliar with the TV series, CSI deals
with the fictional experiences of a squad of criminalists attached
to the Las Vegas police force. Using the latest equipment, and considerable
diligence coupled with brainpower, they work to solve complex crimes
that would leave lesser mortals completely baffled.
There's only some carryover related to the lives of the characters,
and each episode (case) is self-contained. So, too, with the game.
CSI 2 presents us with five distinct and varied cases.
- Daredevil DisasterA motorcycle stuntman finds himself
in the hospital. Accident? Catherine will assist you in your introductory
- Prints and PauperA homeless victim's death becomes a complex
- Diggin' ItA construction site skeleton may not be a century-old
Native American after all.
- Miss DirectionLife in the theater can become deadly.
- Dragon and DroppingHow did a toe get in a dragon's cage?
As with the show, each episode starts with the crime scene. Using
a range of investigative techniques, and a little help from your
friends, you proceed to the resolution, and even a final evaluation
from Grissom. CSI 2 is rated "M" for mature, and appropriately
so. If you won't let your child watch the TV show, then it's also
not fitting for her/him to play the game.
"And You Were the Most Promising!" Grissom,
Commending Your Selection
CSI 2, comprising three CDs, installs smoothlywith
your choice of 500 MB or 1.5 GB. Resolution has improved from last
year's game, now at 800×600. Of course, by standards of today's
cutting-edge action titles, this isn't very impressive. But for
us adventure gamers used to more moderate expectations, this resolution
is a nice step up and quite satisfactory.
Voice acting is outstanding, using cast members from the TV show,
as is the script, obviously done by seasoned writers. Background
sounds and music are soft and appropriate, not at all dominating
or taking anything away from the flow of the game.
A number of initial options are available, not only the expected
audio/visual selections, but also the choice of subtitles, more
frequent auto saves, and an interesting range of difficulty choices.
You may choose to have hotspots turn green when approaching a clue,
or not; evidence tagged with a yellow flag to suggest going further,
or not; automatic evidence questioning with suspects, or not; and
a roaming tutorial in the initial case, or not. Although this may
suggest the possibility of replay, unfortunately, since you already
know the case disposition and perpetrator, there doesn't seem much
point, except to increase your score. In that regard, Grissom puts
you through a final evaluation, with trivia-type questions.
"Stick with the Evidence; it Will Tell You More than I
Although you will have interaction with suspects, your primary
activity is to go pixel hunting. Reason and logic play a major role
in your selection of where to hunt. Obviously, for example, you
want to look around the precise location of the wrecked stunt motorcycle,
rather than other places in the vicinity. However, some selections
are less clear and require a good deal of thought, concentration,
real immersion in the ebb and flow of the case. Although there's
an overall linearity, you still have some options to return to certain
locations, and you certainly have to pick up some clues before other
successive options become opened.
Movement within a scene is limited to a 360-degree horizontal rotation,
coupled with forward movement to portions that may hold clues or
be of other interest. In other words, you are fairly directed where
to go and can't aimlessly wander off the track too far. I found
this feature more limiting than helpful.
The lower portion of the screen features a very efficient toolbar,
showing locations you may visit, victim and suspect files, evidence
collected and analyzed. You'll have eight tools for collection,
ranging from swabs and gloves to electrostatic dust print lifter
and adhesive specimen mount. Your seven detection tools range from
a magnifying scope and UV light to luminol and nynhidrin. This may
sound like science class and, to a large extent, it is.
When stumped or needing guidance, your associate on the case can
be approached for advice. However, this counts against you in the
final grading from Grissom! Yet I somehow found myself wanting to
ask Catherine (voiced by Marg Helgenberg) a lot of questionsnot
so with the other helpers. I don't know why that was.
You'll also need to visit Greg at the lab to have evidence analyses
completed, use some of the equipment yourself, and even see Doc
Robbins on occasion for his appraisals. Finally, you'll work up
to Captain Brass to see if you have enough for a warrant. He'll
often send you packing. More work may be needed on the Evidence
Trinityan interesting guide to measuring progress among victim,
suspects, and crime scene.
Lennie Briscoe or Gil Grissom?
Comparisons may well be drawn between the two major detective series:
CSI and Law & Order. My personal preference is
for the Law
& Order games. They feature a greater degree
of personal interaction with suspects and seem to have more life
and characterrather like the TV series. And, of course, the
games are topped off with the courtroom component. CSI, like
its spawning series, is dry, pedantic, almost classroom-like. It's
also darker, both literally and figuratively. Playing CSI is
a bit like doing a difficult crossword puzzle. You have to be in
the right frame of mind, in a quiet place with no interruptions.
Also, with CSI you have five cases, as compared to only the
one in Law & Order. They're both fun, both very well
done, but with different emphases. In that sense, both games represent
their respective shows very nicely.
CSI 2 is an excellent sequelwith better graphics,
twice the length, a greater degree of difficulty. It has a few bugs
1.01) but should run fine on even minimum-specification systems.
If you like the show, detective adventure games, or complex and
detailed thinking exercises, I'm sure you'll enjoy this series of
cases with Gil Grissom and his CSI team.
Developer: 369 Interactive
Release Date: March 2004
Four Fat Chicks Links
PIII 600 MHz
256 MB RAM
16 MB graphics card
650 MB free hard disk space
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