CSI: Fatal Conspiracy
First posted on 15 August 2014. Last updated on 15 August 2014.
The game is available at GamersGate.
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy (also known as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Fatal Conspiracy) is a point-and-click adventure game and the eighth title for the PC in the long running CSI game series. The game stars the original cast of characters (Season 10) from the popular television crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Sara Sidle, Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Catherine Willows, Raymond Langston, Jim Brass, and Al Robbins. Like previous games, it features 5 gruesome crime cases that the player must work with members of the CSI team to solve. Unlike previous games in which only the first and last cases are connected, all of the cases in this game are tied together by an overarching story about a drug lord named Beatriz Salazar who is better known by her moniker—Queen of the Hive. For the first time in the series, the CSI team is working with the FBI on the cases. A FBI agent named Gene Huntby monitors the team as it investigates and gathers evidence against this drug lord.
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy features 5 episodes (or cases) to solve:
Episode 1: Flash Baked: The CSI team investigates the death of the a spa manager whose body is discovered in the brunt spa from a suspicious fire. The player works with Sara Silde to solve the case.
Episode 2: Planting Evidence: The body of a construction worker is discovered in the center of a construction site. The player works with Greg Sanders on the case to determine if the death is a suicide or homicide.
Episode 3: Tapped Out: A burn victim living in a hospice dies when the medical equipment delivering medicine to her is tampered. The player works with Nick Stokes to solve the case.
Episode 4: All Washed up: A woman is found dead inside her car at a car wash. The player works with Catherine Willows to solve the case.
Episode 5: Boss Fight: The CSI team is confounded by a pair of murders involving victims already known to the team from previous cases. The player works with Raymond Langston on the case to take down the Queen of the Hive for the killing spree.
In addition, the player can connect to Facebook from within the game to sign up for exclusive access to the Facebook game CSI: Crime City.
Compared to previous games in the series, the core mechanics of evidence gathering and processing remains largely unchanged in this game. During each case, the player can pan or move around the crime scene looking for evidence. When a piece of evidence is found, the cursor changes to a hand to signal that it can be examined. Then, if the player is close enough to collect the evidence, a forensic tool box appears from which the player can select the proper evidence collection tool for the task. Once a piece of evidence is collected, the player can examine it further in 3D in close-up to try to gather other clues. However, some evidence pieces are so easily spotted in plain sight as if they have been planted in the crime scene by the perpetrators (even though they are not).
Gameplay is very simple and straightforward. When compared to the cases from previous games, crimes scenes for the current cases are less interesting and have fewer interactive hotspots. However, unlike those cases, these cases are longer and have more twists and turns. They are also more satisfying to solve, even though the act of solving them is relatively effortless. When interrogating a suspect, for example, the player can refute a statement made by the suspect by using a piece of evidence that the player has collected previously. Unfortunately, the confession made by the killer (or killers) at the end of each case is often rather flat. As well, the story's main antagonist, Beatrice Salazar, appears in the first case of the game and immediately gives away the whole plot, leaving no mystery for the player to solve about her role in the game. In particular, her early appearance in the interrogation room feels irrelevant. Even though the story features a surprising revelation about the FBI agent and depicts the drug lord as a cruel murderer, there is little tension being built and little element of fear being felt throughout the game.
Like previous games, the player's performance is evaluated at the end of each case. Awards can be unlocked, and achievements can be earned. There are a lot of achievements to earn in this game, all of which are quite easy. The game uses a trio of criteria to score the player's performance: Skill while processing the collected evidence, Cunningness while interrogating a suspect, and Thoroughness while searching the crime scenes for evidence.
The game has a built-in hint system that provides hints to the player on what tasks are needed to be carried out to progress further in a case. Oddly, on occasions, the player will erroneously receive emails from other members of the CSI team urging the player to take on tasks that are already completed.
The graphics are well done, on par with previous installments of the series from the same developer. The crime scenes are quite good looking. By contrast, not of all the characters are well modeled. The voice acting is excellent, with good lip synchronization. The dialogs are well written and include a lot of technical and medical jargons. Sound effects are also good. Background music, alas, gets repetitive rather quickly.
The player can access the PDA to track the current progress in a case. The player can also use it to quickly travel to the crime scene, the lab, the interrogation room, and even Jim Brass' office. Once the player finishes searching the crime scene and processing the collected evidence, the associated locations are checked off. Compared to previous games, the player spends more time in this game processing chemicals, DNA, fingerprints, and other pieces of evidence. Yet, the audio analysis, video analysis, document analysis, and assembly table are all used only once in the entire game. Unlike previous games, the computer analysis as well as the audio analysis and video analysis are not interactive.
The lab computers have videos showing the player how to process the collected evidence. This is especially important when the player needs to examine the evidence under the microscope. The main lab has a board that displays photos from the crime scenes, but the player cannot click on these photos to view them in close-up.
The game automatically saves the player's progress. Even so, the player can choose to save the game manually. The game supports 4 game save slots.
The in-game advertisements in this game are blatant and very annoying. For example, in each case, whenever the player boots up the lab computer, a malware scan is run, displaying prominently the advertiser's name and its anti-virus software. In a particular case, when a victim's hard drive is scanned and a virus is found, Sara Sidle even snarlingly comments, "Someone's been doing some unsafe surfing." Yet, this discovery is entirely irrelevant to the case in any way and is just a plain advertisement.
As opposed to other games in the CSI series, solving the cases in CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is rarely challenging. While the cases are more elaborate, their investigations are also more limiting. In all, fans who have played previous installments may not find this installment particularly interesting to play.