CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
First posted on 01 February 2008. Last updated on 30 August 2013.
The game CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is based on the popular American television series of the same name. It features all the same major characters from the television series, including Gil Grissom, Catherine Willows, Sara Sidle, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass, Al Robbins, and Greg Sanders. The main characters in the game are also voiced by the same cast of actors and actresses who play the characters in the television show. In this game adaptation, however, you do not play as any of the cast characters, but rather as a new intern recruited to the Las Vegas Crime Lab, who will work along with members of the CSI team to solve a series of crime cases.
Despite the television premise, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a point and click adventure game. The player clicks on an object to examine it or a person to interact with for clues. The mouse cursor is context sensitive. It changes to green color wherever it hovers over an object or a person with whom the player can interact; otherwise, the mouse cursor stays blue in color.
Various forensic tools, categorized into Evidence Collection and Evidence Detection tools, are available to solve the cases. The Evidence Collection tools include Swab, Gloves, Tweezers, Casting Plaster, Mikrosli, Adhesive Lifting Tape, and Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter. The Evidence Detection tools include Magnifying Scope, Ninhydrin, Finger Prints Brush, Ultra Violet Light, Sniffer, Luminol, and Infrared Diagnostic Camera. The player has to click on either an evidence collection tool or an evidence detection tool to examine and collect the evidence. If a wrong tool is chosen to collect or examine the evidence, the player will be told so immediately by the CSI team member with whom the player is partnered for each case. The player can double click the tool or evidence collected to get more information about it. Each piece of the evidence is automatically categorized under Trace/Prints, Documents, and Items. The evidence collected is also tagged with other forensic details, such as the place and time of collection. Whenever a new clue is learnt about the evidence collected, the evidence description is updated for review.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is played through a series of 5 cases:
Case 1—Inn and Out: This case provides a tutorial on how to interact with the crime scene, collect evidence, and interview witness. A girl is found murdered and tied to the bed at a hotel, with a dollar bill stuck in her mouth. The player works with Gil Grissom to find the murder suspect.
Case 2—Light my Fire: The crime scene is a burned home of an aviation company owner where the fire is suspected to be due to arson. The player teams up with Sara Sidle to find the cause and source of the arson.
Case 3—Garvey's Beat: The player teams up with Nick Stokes to investigate the murder of a police officer.
Case 4—More Fun than a Barrel of Corpses: A stranger calls to leave a mysterious message "I have got more work for you". The player works with Warrick Brown to investigate the source of call and the crime scene.
Case 5—Leda's Swan Case: Gill Grissom has gone missing, and the team fears that he has been kidnapped. Teaming up with Catherine Willows, the player has to trace his steps and save him.
The cases include a case file for each that contains details on the victims, suspects (such as motive, means, and opportunity), and re-constructions. Re-constructions are videos of how the crime is hypothesized to have occurred based on the evidence collected.
During the investigation, the player can visit various places to gather more information about the victims and the crimes committed. Some places are the Morgue (to get details on time of death and cause of death), Jim Brass's Office (to get arrest warrant and legal help), and the Lab (to compare and analyze evidence with the help of Greg Sanders).
All the cases are quite interesting to solve. The last case is interrelated to the first case and the fourth case. This loosely gives an impression that the cases are tied to a common plotline that will otherwise appear disjointed.
At the end of each case, the player's performance is graded based upon the proficiency by which the evidence is collected and hints are used. The player's score is displayed along with the player's ranking on the case. The player can also view the various sketches made by the design team about the cases from the Extras menu. How well the player scores in the game determines how much of the bonus material will be rewarded.
The gameplay is good and very simple. Interaction with other characters in the game is straightforward. The player simply has to click on the questions that appear in the text screen to get the answers. The graphics are somewhat lifelike and realistic. The video re-constructions of the crime scenes are impressive to watch. The animations are all done in the same gritty style as those shown in the television series. The menu music is very catchy. The background music and sound effects are pleasing. The dialogs are well written and are quite funny at times.
The game requires both keen observation of the crime scene and good knowledge of the forensic procedure used in crime scene investigation. If the player has missed a clue or has not proceeded in a correct manner, the player will not be able to progress further in the case. The game automatically saves the case progress so it is not necessary to retrace tasks that have already been completed.
Overall, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a good effort by the developer to adopt a successful television drama into a game series. It offers fans of the series a chance to take part in the drama of a crime scene investigator, at least for the short while the game will last playing.