CSI: Deadly Intent

Posted by Patrick Talbot.
First posted on 15 December 2009. Last updated on 19 January 2013.
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CSI: Deadly Intent
The evening skyline of Las Vegas is instantly familiar to fans of the television series on which the game is based.
CSI: Deadly Intent
Interviewing a witness at the crime scene is an important step in crime scene investigation.
CSI: Deadly Intent
Many forensic tools are available to gather evidence from the crime scene.
CSI: Deadly Intent
The crime lab is where the collected evidence is processed.
CSI: Deadly Intent
DNA evidence collected from the victim and the crime scene must be sequenced and then compared for a match.

Developing games based on movies or even television series has always been a daunting challenge. The developers are forced to walk a tightrope between staying within the confined formula of their licensed IP as to remain true to the source or go out of the box and use the licensed IP as a springboard to create original material. The latter is a risky move that often leads to a disastrous adaptation, while the former is a safer alternative that caters to an already established loyal fan base. The challenge then is to attract gamers who are not particular fans of those movies or television series. CSI: Deadly Intent (also known as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Deadly Intent), developed by Telltale Games and published by Ubisoft, chooses to stay true to its source—the long running, popular television crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

In this seven title in the CSI series, you are once again the new recruit who is working in the Las Vegas Crime Lab. The game consists of 5 cases which you will investigate. You must complete these cases in the order that they are presented (that is, you cannot pick and choose which case to work on first). The developer is to be commended for designing the game to look and feel like an actual episode of the television show. The game even includes the panning landscape shots of Las Vegas and the CSI logo from the actual show that are played as transitions on air. The experience feels like, instead of watching the show, you have jumped into the show and become a part of it.

The first case deals with a bride who is killed on her wedding night. The second case is about a murdered ultimate fighting referee. The third case regards a murdered celebrity in a rehab center that caters to celebrities. The fourth case concerns the death of a circus fire-eater. The fifth case is on the subject of the death of a female impersonator. In each case, you gather forensic evidence, interview witnesses, talk with the medical examiner, and use the tools of forensic science to help the police catch the murderer. The essence of this game is to gather forensic evidence. Sometimes, it requires revisiting the crime scene to locate more evidence for a warrant. Some of the cases offered twists that I have not expected. The writers deserve due credits for these plot twists that have made the storyline less predictable.

Your main tool for communication and directing the game is a PDA that allows you to select between traveling to different locations, looking at evidence gathered, reviewing the case files, and accessing options to adjust the game’s graphics, sound, and autosave settings. The game keeps the PDA discreetly minimized to the lower left corner of the screen. Left clicking on it brings it back up, while right clicking on it returns it to its place.

The game uses a simple point-and-click interface. There are many icons for you to choose specific actions, but the game usually picks out the right defaults for you to use. Some experienced player may find this handholding a bit annoying, but I have found it extremely useful instead.

The game is very forgiving and accommodating to gamers who are not fans of the television series. Your CSI teammates frequently offer useful advice. You also receive e-mails in your PDA from co-workers on what needs to be done next. Both are extremely helpful. In addition, the game offers tutorials, for example, on how to perform DNA analysis, which becomes a puzzle game in itself. The tutorials can be turned off for players who may find them distracting. Doing the chemical and DNA analysis from the evidence is most fun. The ambient music adds to the excitement of discovery. I am a fan of music in video games, and this game delivers.

The graphics are decent, and the animations are smooth. The facial features of the characters are realistic, and the mouth movements of the characters match to their speech. The game supports DirectX 9.0c for Windows XP and DirectX 10 for Windows Vista (to this end, I played this game under both setups and saw no difference in presentation).

The voice acting is spot on. All the cast members from the television show have lent their voices to their characters in the game. This gives the game a lot authenticity and helps with the immersion.

The game is not without its flaws, but they are minor. I am most disappointment by the fact that you are forced to play each case in sequence. With each case you work alongside with only one of the members of the CSI team at a time. There is no option to interact with all of them per case. You also do not work with Ray Langston, the newest member of the team, until the third case. That character takes on the role of a very patient mentor guiding you as you work through the case. It is a pity that he is not used more in the game.

Overall, CSI: Deadly Intent is a good game that serves well to supplement the popular television series. After playing the game and enjoying it, I am now watching the actual television show again after many years of missing it. If the goal of Telltale Games and Ubisoft is to entice gamers to tune into the show on which the game is based, then they have duly succeeded. Fans of the show will undoubtedly enjoy this game, and non-fans may want to try out the game after getting acquainted or reacquainted with the franchise that now has many spinoffs.

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