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My partner brought home CSI: Hard Evidence for our new Wii the weekend after we bought the console, and to be honest, it sat on my gaming shelf for months before I played it. I was caught up in Mario Kart and AMF Bowling Pinbusters! and didn’t remember I owned the game until just last week. And then it happened – I played a video game for 3 days straight. I didn’t stop, and I didn’t leave the couch.
CSI: Hard Evidence is a blood bath of a game based on Jerry Bruckheimer’s hit CBS television series. Based in Las Vegas and featuring the actual voices of the cast, the game starts with your first day on the Crime Scene Investigation unit. And, man, what a first day. Throughout the games five cases you will interrogate witnesses, obtain warrants, and work closely with your fellow CSI teammates. Your mission: to scour crime scenes for evidence, to collect said evidence using the correct tools, and to use the crime lab for analyzation.
The Wii game is not the first CSI game. They have been popular on both PC and Playstation 2 for years, and Hard Evidence is the fourth title in the series. The Wii remote offers players the same scroll-over mouse experience found in the PC version. I found scrolling over the characters and crime scenes with the remote as easy as I found the game. This is a fool proof game with built in hints and full character narration. It is perfect for anyone who has ever found themselves stuck in a video game and unsure what to do next.
It’s no secret that the Nintendo Wii has the least attractive graphics package of any new gaming console, and CSI: Hard Evidence looses some of its appeal with this downfall. Players who are interested in seeing realistic blood baths and gruesome crime scenes should opt for the Xbox 360 version. What you will get when you play Hard Evidence is the interaction that Wii offers. I felt like I was part of the game when my cursor changed into a hand to grasp a piece of evidence and when I could grab an object and turn it a full 360 degrees to check for fingerprints or blood spatters.
I’m a fan of the original CBS CSI show and I never miss an episode. If you are a fan of the show and want to join the team, CSI: Hard Evidence is a game you’re sure to enjoy. Want to save a few bucks? Rent the game from your local video store. I, and others I spoke to who’d played, found that the game went quickly and could be finished in a few days of dedicated play, and renting the game for the weekend at around $10 is a big savings over the $30 retail price tag.
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Although I thoroughly enjoyed this game and recommend it to any CSI or True Crime fan, I had to knock out two points because the game is dreadfully slow to load. Each crime scene is large and extensive and the game pre-loads everything needed for the scene before you are able to play. There are also a few minor glitches while you’re exploring the locations. I found these glitches to be bothersome but not so bad that I didn’t enjoy myself.
I docked another point off of this section for the relentless Visa and HP adds that are prevalent throughout the game. Weather it was a bill board outside or a card left casually on an empty bar, Visa is everywhere you don’t want it to be. Slipping adds into the background isn’t anything new in the gaming world, and I am used to seeing adds for the software company that manufactured the game, but these third party ads for Visa and HP were presented ad nauseaum.
Levels of Difficulty – 9 out of 10
I’ve played all three levels of this game since it was pulled off my shelf and each beginner, intermediate, and advanced stage offered a new challenge. As the levels of difficulty progress you will find that hints are harder to come by, evidence doesn’t make itself known, and your partner doesn’t talk you through the crime. Basically, as the gameplay gets harder, you’re on your own.
As a further challenge, you can change your game play settings at any point during the game by accessing the Options menu on your PDA. Click on Gameplay Settings to turn on the following options on or off:
Active Navigation Hotspots – tells you where to go next
Active Tool Hotspots – tells you what tool to use
Evidence Tagging –tells you when you have collected all the evidence in a location
Location Tagging – tells you when there is a new location
Tool Assist – highlights a selection of tools that you can use
Auto Evidence Viewer – lets you view the evidence right after you collect it to see it contains further trace evidence
I found that I enjoyed the game most when I played it on intermediate and had Evidence Tagging and Auto Evidence viewer on but with all other auto options turned off.
At the beginning of the game, after you’ve loaded your profile, you will have the option to explore all the cases you have worked on so far. You can choose to start each case over to receive a better rating or to collect that last piece of evidence that you may have missed the first time around. I liked this because it let me “clean house” without starting each case over.
Using Forensic Tools – 8 out of 10
Using forensic tools and the computers at the crime lab are a key part component to CSI: Hard Evidence. Choosing the correct tool to detect and lift a fingerprint can make or break your case, so choose carefully from your toolkit.
I docked two points from this section for the use of the forensic lab. I know, I know, using the computers is what the show is all about but it slows the game down just a tad. I enjoyed analyzing fingerprints and finding DNA matches, but I didn’t like the tedious task of going back and forth between crime scene and lab. But I guess that’s all part of the life of a CSI investigator.
Collecting Bonus Items – 10 out of 10
Your boss likes rare bugs and Las Vegas is full of them. Finding, catching, and presenting these bugs at the end of your case will help unlock bonus features that can be accessed by selecting the Options menu on your PDA and clicking View Stats and Bonus Items.
Bonus Items are also awarded for a solving specific number of crimes on different levels of gameplay as well as for collecting all the evidence in a specific number of crime scenes. And just what are these bonus items? Without giving anything away, be prepared to see clips of your upcoming cases as well as promos for the game.
Character and Storyline Analysis – 10 out of 10
Just as with the show, in between each scene is an areal shot of the city of Las Vegas. It sweeps across the city and shows all the glitz and glamor that resides within. Brass’s office is the same regal mahogany and leather and Grissom’s is stocked floor to ceiling with specimen jars and bug samples.
This is where the game shines. Although the graphics capabilities of the Wii can’t capture the true likeness of the actors, it comes darn close. Not only do they look amazingly similar and feature the actors actual voices, but the CPU’s carry themselves with the same mannerisms as the characters.