Following the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Dark Motives, this third game in Ubisoft's mystery adventure series is based on the spin-off television show, set in Miami and starring David Caruso. Players will join Caruso's onscreen alter-ego, Horatio Caine, along with other characters from the TV show, to solve a series of crime mysteries using high-tech equipment and old-fashioned police work. Players will have a number of forensic tools at their disposal, as well as witnesses to interview and, of course, crime scenes to investigate.
The television series CSI (Crime Scene Investigators) is Sherlock Holmes for voyeurs, melding the classic whodunit with cutting-edge forensic science. Holmes applied deductive logic to a handful of situational details to narrow his suspects; CSIs apply latex gloves, swabs, ultraviolet light, and fingerprint powder.
CSI: Miami is one of two TV spin-offs from the original series, starring David Caruso as a hard-nosed lieutenant who gives up the police beat in favor of crime lab pathology after realizing CSIs are the ones that actually solve the crimes. If only a similar realization could have occurred with this game's developers, namely that gamers -- not just obsessive fans of the TV series - actually play these things. Like previous CSI games, the first game based on CSI Miami will really only appeal to hardcore fans of the show. In this case, even that group may take issue.
369 Interactive's take on the CSI series combines fact-finding and suspect grilling with visits to the morgue, police station, and lab where familiar faces wait patiently for you to collect forensic information and build an evidence trinity linking suspect, victim, and crime scene. You're a CSI intern assigned to work under Caruso's character -- Horatio Caine -- in the solving of several cases that play as self-contained episodes. Missions are assigned by Caine, at which point you're given a starting location -- the scene of the crime -- to begin interviewing suspects and probing for data. By following the game's leads, new locations and cutscenes are gradually unlocked in linear fashion.
And that about sums up the problem with CSI: Miami: extreme linearity. Solving cases amounts to object clicking until you trigger the correct combination (there's only ever one), with no penalty for mismatches or errors. With the exception of the crime scenes themselves, which can be panned 360 degrees (imagine standing at the center of a cylinder and viewing a wraparound 2D picture), all locations are static 3D renders that look washed out and homely. Characters stand and fidget, caught in a prosaic animation loop, as you click on them to initiate lame Q&A sessions that merely require you click through a few choices and listen as the pull-string is sucked back into the doll. This is zero-sum interrogating at its finest: there's no possibility of asking a wrong question, and there's also no way to finish the case without asking every question.
Standing by as you plod along is your trusty partner, one of the series regulars like Emily Procter (plays Calleigh Duquesne) or Adam Rodriguez (plays Erik Delko). They chime in on occasion, filling in plot details and offering advice. If you get stuck, you can use your partner to unlock hints about what to do next, but at the cost of points toward your final score, which isn't really an issue since the game is so easy on its most difficult settings that you'll solve and pull master rank in a matter of hours with each case.
The other thing you'll do in CSI: Miami is drag the mouse around the screen looking for hot-spots -- a lot. When you find them -- and they're not in the least bit intuitive -- you can zoom on objects and whip out your trusty CSI kit, packed with collection and detection tools such as Mikrosil (a putty-like casting material) and Luminol (a chemical that reacts with the iron in blood, making it glow). The first time around, these tools are mildly interesting and even educational, but the game, like the TV series, isn't really about the technology -- it's about the pathos. Sadly, none of that translates here, and by the second case it's as if you're trapped on some purgatorial train with a cast of puppets blabbing colorfully about illicit affairs and relationships gone to pot. Some developers still haven't caught on that while TV is a passive medium, gaming is a dynamic one; simply creating a click-path through a television episode isn't exciting, especially a decade after King's Quest and Gabriel Knight have come and gone.
When you do finally solve a case, you're ranked on a point system and allowed a certain number of extras that include storyboards and character renders used in the creation of the game's cases, which, aside from the shoddy game mechanics, are reasonably well plotted. Still, this is adventure gaming for lazy gamers who don't mind being led around on a leash. If that's you and you're into the whole CSI thing, by all means get this game.
People who downloaded CSI: Miami have also downloaded:
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Dark Motives, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - 3 Dimensions of Murder, CSI: NY - The Game, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Fatal Conspiracy , CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Hard Evidence, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Deadly Intent, Law & Order: Criminal Intent
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