CSI: Crime Scene Investigation review
CSI: Worthy to play 5 years after its release?

The good:

  • One of the few videogames coming from a TV series
  • Characters's voices belong to the real actors
  • Intuitive gameplay
  • Interesting cases
  • Good soundtrack
  • Correct graphic engine

    The bad:

  • Difficult to reach 100% - miss a question and you can say goodbye to the bonus
  • No possibility to come back to a previous save
  • Annoying HUD


    CSI comes to your PC!

    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is the first videogame of a solid saga on PC, expanding since 2007 on other platforms. 2007 is also the year of the release of the 5th game (counting CSI Miami) in the series. But remember something: the game I'm speaking about is released in 2003 and is from 369 Interactive - developers are now TellTale Games (before they get replaced by another studio for CSI: New York).

    You're just a rookie, not a confirmed CSI

    The storyline is just plain and simple: you, player, is a rookie that is under the guidance of the CSI team (Grissom, Nick, Warrick, Catherine and Sara) and you have to solve 5 cases. If you can get a 100% for all your cases, well, you'll unlock bonuses.

    I'm being positive about this game but...

    CSI doesn't make a revolution in the adventure/reflexive games but it was an enjoyable game.... I use past tense because I've played Hard Evidence, the last game... But this doesn't mean that CSI is not worthy to play now. I begin with the positive points because this game needs it. I remember writing a French opinion beginning by "I'll be positive about this game". It was written in 2004. Yep, I'm one of the players following the series (videogame) since the beginning. And since, the story didn't change a bit: you're still a rookie doing his stage in the Las Vegas lab, teamed with Grissom and Co.

    What is CSI?

    CSI is a point & click game. With the mouse, you can click on evidences or on interesting areas. All areas have an evidence. When you found one, you can use collect or detection tools. You can play with Leuko, Luminol, finger prints powder, etc.. If you need an autopsy, Robbins is in his morgue, so, you can ask him everything proposed by the game. Don't forget to go back to him after processing an evidence or finding some interesting things in the lab.

    Sanders isn't on the field, the story taking place before his promotion, so, give him traces, documents or objects in order to find some DNA or to compare two DNA, etc.. Yep, in the first CSI game, you haven't access to the DNA analysis computer or to the Chemical Traces analysis computer. You just have the Traces analysis computer (for prints, audio or special search) and the microscope. If you need a warrant (questioning or searching or arrest), you must go to Brass. But you can also ask him to do some research for you, it's him that gives you victim background.

    Places, tools, evidences are regrouped in a banner HUD at the bottom of the screen. Playing with it the first time isn't annoying but when you're obliged to start again a case for reaching the 100% (and being rewarded by a bonus), it will rapidly become an annoying thing.

    And if you want to play the series, you must know that only Hard Evidence doesn't have this annoying HUD. The problem is that you must scroll for reaching the evidence you want.

    Also, be aware that you can ask your partner for some help but it will make your final score go down and you can say adios to a perfect score. And the perfect score isn't easy to reach: you have to ask all questions, meaning that you can't skip one (case 2 and case 4 being the right example for it: we do know that for case 2, it's not the right size for shoes for the main suspect but still, you have to ask him, despite having the real culprit under arrest).

    Who are youuuuuuuu?

    Another good point is the music. Perfect for a game like this. And the actors are giving their voices to the characters they're playing. That's why I love CSI: its soundtrack is just one example of what a player is right to expect.

    Ok, it's not 3D but it's still correct

    Graphic engine is correct (no full 3D though), you can easily recognize the CSI gang. Generally, if you missed an evidence, that means that you're blind or just not attentive to the scene. I know it because I was stuck for not seeing the last evidence needed for advancing through the case.

    Cases, cases and cases

    Finally, cases are interesting, first one is not long but the others are a little longer. The great idea was to make in the last case references to previous ones. It will be a constant in the CSI videogames.

    CSI is just an average game in terms of gaming

    For the negative point, excepting the annoying HUD and the difficulty to reach the 100%, CSI the game isn't really a rich game. It will be considered by the hardcore gamers as an average or a bad game. You don't really have freedom: Greg is the king of the lab, you can only play with two tools. And you need solid evidences for asking a warrant.

    You always go back to the NPC, especially when you're interrogating them with Brass. As I've said, miss a question and you can restart the case.

    Fans only

    Another point is that you must like a little the TV show for playing the game. I wasn't a fan of CSI but I liked it somewhere. That's why I bought the game. And see where I am now: a huge fan of the CSI videogames.

    Scores and then you'll be free from this review

    GAMEPLAY: 7/10 - It's intuitive, it's the first game, if you come from later games, you'll be perhaps disappointed but it's still the basic moves: point and click.
    STORY: 9/10 - I loved the last case with Leda and the lot of surprises when you're solving the case. And the third case was also a surprising one!
    GRAPHICS: 6/10 - I'm influenced by Hard Evidence and by the change of the developers. But despite the severe note (even at that time, the game engine was inferior), it's a correct engine. And I can play the game on my laptop (of 5 years)...
    SOUNDTRACK: 8/10 - Actors's voices... Good ambient music... what can I add? Perhaps that I would prefer ongoing music? Or am I influenced by Hard Evidence?
    LIFETIME: 6/10 - Well, CSI was a short game, with the shortest cases of the series. But with the difficulty to reach 100% in one try, the game could be extremely long. Sometimes, it's too long.
    FINAL: 7/10 - I'm not generous, I'm just trying to judge the game despite years of playing new games. It was the first CSI game, so, you can forgive some youth errors like the nonexistent access to the DNA analysis computer or the tutorial during the game. It's also the game who puts the bases of the CSI series: 5 cases, challenges for bonuses, references to past cases, actors's voices. CSI is a worth a try, specially if you like CSI. Despite the five years gap between the release and the review, I can't only say something: try it. Perhaps you'll be receptive to the others CSI game before 3 Dimensions of Murder and Hard Evidence.

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