Today we have a guest review by Brad (Solar Krises).
As we all know, CSI is a well known TV program which shows modern forensic teams attending various crime scenes and using different methods and tools to solve all types of cases spanning from those of petty Arson to those of serious Murder. Now it's been brought straight to the Xbox. The game features the actual cast doing the voiceovers for the game and even one of the script writers from the well known series has been used to script the different cases that you endeavour to solve. For better or worse, it works just like the TV show does.
You start the game as the new recruit, there is no training, you are just thrown straight onto the graveyard shift, and straight into your first case. A young woman found dead in a hotel room, with the hotel manager at the scene. A perfect start to the case to get you thinking about foul play, and instantly blaming the hotel owner, or at least I was. You gain access to a whole bunch of forensic tools, ranging from detection tools to collection tools. However don't panic, should you become stumped, there is always someone from the CSI team with you should you need any clues, help or general tips.
Your first case acts as the tutorial level, while browsing the scene subtle hints are dropped here and there of potential ways that you could choose to solve this case. You are given little clues as to the different tools you should be using to collect evidence, and you are also given an insight on how to question potential witnesses/suspects at the scene of the crime.
Given the layout of the game and how it plays out, fans of the Tex Murphy series should absolutely love it as you have your traditional point and click adventure. Most of the scenes allow full 360 degree movement allowing you to search the entire scene leaving nothing untouched, but although you have this full movement, you can't look up or down, only left and right, which does disappoint in some ways.
CSI does have difficulty settings, but they don't affect the game in the way which you thought they would. Yes, you get Beginner, Advanced and Expert Mode but they make no change to the game whatsoever, they just change how the interface of the game works. For example, beginner mode uses all options, so when you get potential evidence your pointer colour will change from blue to green, and when you're examining evidence, certain icons will appear informing you when you can't do any more examinations with the item. Expert mode turns all of these options off, making it more difficult and more realistic. This in turn makes you feel like a true CSI Member.
As you play the game, you will meet different members of the CSI team. On your first case you meet three main characters within their speciality areas, so you visit the computer lab (for analyzing evidence), the morgue (for gathering information about the deceased) and the police station (to call in suspects). As you play the different case scenarios you will gain access to different areas allowing you to find even more clues to solve your case and make your convictions (the best part).
You also get little cut scenes which act just like scenes from the TV series. You get to see the far fetched guess work of the CSI team in action where they miraculously use their imagination to generate the stories which put the culprit behind bars. Far fetched, but amusing when they kick in. When the case is complete you get a CSI rating, telling you how well you performed, and general stats on how well you did.
The graphics of CSI aren't really designed to challenge the Xbox engine, but it doesn't need to as it's not an all out killing frenzy of a game, with fancy explosions and rendered cut scenes. It's a mystery/puzzle/adventure game which doesn't need fancy graphics to add to playability, for what the game is the graphics suit it perfectly. The sound doesn't let you down either, as described above the game features all the voices from the main characters of the TV series, making you feel like you are in control of the TV show, its rather strange but good at the same time.
Unfortunately there aren't many cases in the game, but some of them do take a lot of time to solve. However, the cases are not so impossible that you're at the point of insanity, trying desperately not to rip your hair out whilst screaming and scouring the internet for a walkthrough, as they can all be solved with a little common sense. Unfortunately, the game does seem like a one off player type of game giving the impression that you won't be playing it again upon completion, so it does lose a few brownie points there.
So ok, we've gone over the in's and out's of the game, enough talk, down to the nitty gritty. CSI although short (but very sweet) is the kind of game, even though it is a one player game that could be classed as a typical sit down with friends game. You could play for hours with your friends, all solving a crime together whilst munching on pizza or any other form of take away food. It does have the potential to be a very social game. The graphics are perfectly done for what the game needs, and again the sound is good enough with all the voice actors from the series, and a good script.