CSI: Miami review
Will Miami surpass Las Vegas?
I'm going to Miami, Welcome to Miami!
Uhm, yeah, I know, I'm kinda being rusty because I didn't write for months but it seems that I found the will for doing it. After all, I've FINALLY finished the FAQ for the game in my native language...
So, as you may know, I love the CSI game series for the stories behind cases and for the searching. But you also know that it's not preventing me to "flame" a game when it's not tasty for me. CSI: Miami, when you see the evolution of the series, well, that game could be considered as poor. I've stopped at Hard Evidence, I still need to try CSI: NY and I need to buy CSI: Deadly Intent for PC and DS.
But as you must be used to my usual rantings, you already see what I'll say: don't forget that the game is from 2004... But I can't go against the fact that it was in the same period that you saw Doom 3, Painkiller and Half-Life 2 being released. CSI: Miami is looking poor compared to these three FPS that made a lot of players content.
Anyway, considering that the CSI series had always graphics being a little "outdated" compared to what was done at the time, I can't really blame people that were asking for a good engine for the series...
CSI: Miami (the game) is released for satisfying the fans of the series. Indeed, if Las Vegas is still the main town, you couldn't let Miami (and then New York) without at least a game. Well count two games now that Horatio Caine did his appearance on iPhone earlier this year.
Not a rookie AGAIN?
Despite being used since two games to the main gameplay of the series, the developers are still making you look as a rookie by putting you in his/her shoes. And now that you're in Miami, you're going to solve five new cases under the sun and on the beaches (not necessarily but well) of Miami, during the day, instead of the usual nightshift of Las Vegas, under the lights of casinos.
Well, looking into the stories...
If the story itself is just the plain old rookie stuff, the stories or the cases can be interesting... And it's perhaps a strong point, you're not being bored with all the surprises going along. But if the references to previous cases are strong in the fifth case, for the first time, you don't have a victim who is still breathing. Everyone is dead (3 Dimensions of Murder, the next game of the series, took back the famous case "where the victim is still alive").
If your first case is really interesting (beginning with a dead alligator having apparently eaten some human parts and concluding with a murder without forgetting a real complicated love triangle - or a square one), after that, it's just being boring until the fifth case. Indeed, it's still murder, it's still three or four suspects, it's still the same old story and you don't have any great revelation. But when you're investigating the death of someone you met in that very case, you'll be suddenly taken into a single man's conspiracy before his death (it's reminding me the end of Rainbow Six: Ravenshield...) with the references to your previous cases... The other cases seen in that light become suddenly different and you're mentally screaming at yourself that you should have suspected something. If that fifth case were absent, it would have been a great shame for CSI: Miami...
Gameplay: Nothing changed... apart the "decode message"
Just a little note and you have to remember it: Miami is in the pure continuation of Dark Motives, the second game for CSI. So, the references to it are numerous. I should do a PC review for it – and I will because I’ve played it just after Miami instead of Team Fortress 2.
CSI: Miami is still a Point & Click game, like the previous games - remember, the previous ones are CSI and CSI: Dark Motives -. You're always starting at the scene crime (for the first case, you're not beginning there but close to it). You have to look closely to the corpse if possible and to look after evidence. Generally, it's not obvious. I mean, yeah, that object is obviously something helping (or not but it will be revealed after analysis) but most of the time, you can see (or rarely not) a fingerprint or blood or anything else suspicious. So here enters the CSI toolcase: Detecting and Collecting. Use the Detecting tools for making obvious a trace or anything else (Luminol, the fingerprint powder, the UV light, the flashlight, etc.). And then you have the Collecting tools: the gloves, the tape, etc. etc. You can't take an evidence like that, you will use almost always the gloves. But don't be afraid, you can double-click on the evidence in your HUD (oh yeah, that annoying orange line) and use your tool in the evidence screen that appeared.
When you're on a scene or on a location, you can explore it (if you're allowed or with a warrant). You can make a 360° turn with the mouse. Also, if you have enabled some options, you will find your way easily because of the green arrow showing you that something is interesting. Also, you can speak to the people present until they're not willing to answer. You click on them and there is a list of questions. Don't forget to come back regularly after a discovery (in the scene or in the lab or from someone else) and speak with them or else, you'll be stuck. When you're done with the locations specific to the case, you can still say hello to Valera in the lab (she's like Sanders in the previous games) and give her all your evidence for scanning or preparing your research. She can also provide answers. You have also the morgue with Alexx. You'll find many answers with an autopsy, Alexx can give DNA, blood sample or fingerprints if needed. Anyway, check her regularly because she has some answers for you. Finally you have Yelina's desk. She's acting as Brass at the difference that she will be your partner in a case. Hey, they're one person short in Miami! It's not Las Vegas! Anyway, Yelina is the one you have to contact for warrants or anything else in her domain. If you need to pursue a discussion with a suspect, you have to pass through her for it.
So if for Alexx and Yelina, it's just a matter of speaking (or collecting), in Valera's lab, you will have to do the work. Not everything but as you may know, it's better than anything else. So let's begin. You have the computer with five sections: the special research (chemical, address, numbers, blood, alcohol, etc.), the DNA analysis (where you can search a DNA or compare it to samples), the foot analysis (for shoeprints - working like the DNA part), the fingerprints analysis (same process as the DNA/Shoeprints) and the tireprints (you know how it works now). Compared to Dark Motives, using the fingerprint search is a little more difficult. Here, you don't have anymore the names appearing under the results, so you have to compare prints that are nearly identical, with sometimes no match. As for the DNA, it hasn't changed a bit: you're still having difficulties to read it. By chance, you have bigger lines as in the previous opus, so, you're focusing on them instead of comparing all the DNA. For shoes and tireprints, it's the same remark.
We'll look into the special research. Indeed, it's a tool used for everything else: chemical composition, search for an address, etc.. But what is new compared to Dark Motives is the new game consisting in decoding messages. You have to discover what is written by trying to find the right letter. It's not difficult when you can suppose where the most used letter can go or when a rare one can fit. It's just a shame that the feature was only present in two cases and not in all. It would have been more interesting.
You still have the microscope for comparing bullets, hair, etc. etc.. Nothing really changed apart the fact that no picture is analyzed anymore with it like in Dark Motives.
The real novelty in the lab is the puzzle table as I'm calling it or the reconstitution table. If it's not really used (again a shame) in the game, at least, it's being introduced with success as that part of the lab has been since in each game till Hard Evidence. You will have to reconstitute torn pictures, torn pages, even a spot glass (the harder puzzle for me). It will make the investigation advance and even reveal new proofs.
You can also play without help and it's part of the gameplay. You can disable the automatic pointer to the interesting area (the green arrow), the automatic proof following (indicating when a proof is fully analyzed), the automatic location following (indicating when a location is clean or has revealed all the secrets) and the automatic questions about evidence (which was avoiding you to drag and drop pieces of evidence on a witness or suspect).
For those of you who need to check their cases frequently, you still have your case file with all the suspects, the victim and a triangle linking victim, location and suspect. But it's not really useful in my taste, it's just a reminder and it's not always telling you who is the culprit. Anyway, I think that it's useless but it's a way to trigger the search and question warrants.
A last thing about gameplay: asking your partner for help is making you loose points for the final result and the subsequent unlocking bonuses. If answering to the five last questions that Horatio is asking (like Grissom in Dark Motives) isn't important, asking for help is really something to avoid.
Orange, day light, yep, we're in Miami
The graphic engine is the one developed by 369 Interactive, so, it didn't really changed from Dark Motives. You can easily recognize the CSI gang: generally they're looking like being in 3D when the background looks like being in 2D.
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 (despite knowing the stories) as usual in the same spot because I didn't pick a proof or a print or a trace.
Anyway, if the graphics are correct, they're still being inferior compared to what it was done at the time and as it's the engine used for Dark Motives, nothing really changed apart the brightness of the HUD (in orange) and the bright background. After all, Miami is about a dayshift team... And that's perhaps what it's making me a little disoriented in the game: Las Vegas is somewhere having more mystery because of the "dark" (or at least because I'm perhaps being attracted by these kind of colours than those used for Miami). I've also noted that compared to Dark Motives, it is possible to see some animation in the background (like the bartender doing his job behind Ty Landon in case 5).
Good job for the actors!
Well, the music for CSI: Miami is just in the same register as for any CSI game: fitting to the scene, without having great tracks but still, you have ongoing music for all scenes, the sounds are good and fitting.
But I must say that what impressed me is the quality of the voice acting. As usual, it's clean, the tones used are fitting (not unlike in CSI: NY where suddenly the guy is screaming when he was just calm moments ago), the actors are really adapting their voices for the character (like the arrogant Troy Sullivan or Donny Bronson).
Five cases... always five cases...
You know, having one more isn't hurting... I mean, it could have been great to have a bonus mission but... CSI is CSI and it will be five cases, not more. So, unless you want badly an Expert score for unlocking the bonuses, you're not gonna replay it. So, the replay value is only high for those wanting a perfect score or for those writing a walkthrough.
I don't really remember the time I needed for finishing it the first time I've played it. I just remember having followed a French walkthrough, hard to read, with some mistakes. But honestly, I can say that it can take between five and eight hours of your time. It can be fast if you're used to the CSI gameplay and/or to the adventure game concept as it can be long when you're just playing like that and not finding what you need for advancing. Because CSI can be frustrating if you're not finding what you need.
The ultimate reward
As in the previous games, when you're reaching the highest rank in a case, you're unlocking all the bonus about it: it can go from an interview of a CSI or Max Allan Collins, the writer of numerous CSI books to artwork or storyboard for the current case. And when you have done the five cases with the highest rank, you have more things to enjoy. So, yeah, if it wasn't for that, I don't think that I would have replayed the cases until perfection.
About the need to be a fan
I would say that if you want to play CSI: Miami, you have to be a fan of the series (TV or games) because when you've played Dark Motives, you can say that you have already seen everything for Miami apart two or three things. So, I think that for playing CSI: Miami, you have to be willing to do it (or you're curious - which is a good asset). I don't really recommend Miami if you were bored by Dark Motives but well, the fifth case is really an enjoyable one. But you'll not buy it only for that, right?
You're under arrest...
GRAPHICS: 6/10 - The graphic engine didn't change. The only thing that we can say is that the characters are really looking as the actors and that the game is brighter than the other games in the series but only because CSI: Miami is telling the stories of a dayshift team and not a nightshift one. Apart that, everything is correct. I'm just having some difficulties with orange being everywhere. I prefer blue or green, which is why I'm probably attracted by the original cast. And that HUD is still as ugly as ever but as you don't have so many proofs to present, it's not a problem.
SOUND: 7/10 - If the soundtrack isn't really a novelty, it's fitting the game, it's proper, no false note. But I have a special mention for the voice acting. I'm playing the game with the original voices and French subtitles, which is great. The actors know their jobs. As usual, the developers didn't take that matter lightly.
STORY: 7/10 - 5 cases, a first exciting case, three boring ones just after despite a third one oriented for the adults and a fifth case that is just marvelous. I didn't expect that one, so, I can say that if it wasn't for it, the note would have been severe.
GAMEPLAY: 6/10 - It's not because you have two or three novelties that the gameplay changed. No, it's still the same thing with the same sense of restricted freedom in the lab, already felt at that time, before playing the next games. The gameplay is correct but you would have expected perhaps something else for Miami (after all they did it with NY but nearly five years after and with a different developer).
LIFETIME: 7/10 - Long cases, bonus to unlock, the lifetime is good when the replay value is just being fluctuating between aficionados of the series and occasional gamers.
FINAL: 6.5/10 - Just a clone of Dark Motives with a dayshift team and orange HUD, CSI: Miami can't really claim to bring novelties for the series. Apart the stories, nothing really changed in gameplay or in graphics. However, we still have the good old race for getting bonuses, fitting soundtrack, appropriate voice acting and a surprising end. If I have to recommend Miami, it will be only to fans of the series, otherwise, just avoid it unless you're curious about it. Going to Miami was somewhere fun but getting back in Las Vegas with 3 Dimensions of Murder is greater.
About the author
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