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As the series proved to be a success, the game had to soon follow. CSI takes the same characters as the TV series onto your computer screens, together with appropriate voice acting, evidence collecting and rampaging murderers roaming the city of LA.
The approach is that of any first-person sleuthing game: you collect pieces of evidence from murder scenes which you then process in the various labs. The problem really is that there is little more than that. Although some of the stories are intriguing and somewhat well written, there is little in terms of gameplay to make this game re-playable, and entertaining.
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Not much is different from the main TV series. Here you play the apprentice who’s just started working in the CSI labs, and want to quickly move up the ranks by proving your worth as an investigator. You will side with a different character from the original series in each of the cases which you are assigned.
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As mentioned, you play this game in a first-person perspective. The game isn’t 3D, although the pre-rendered backgrounds certainly give the idea of depth of field. You can start the game with the provided tutorial, should wish to do so, but the learning curve isn’t particularly long, even if you choose the trial and error route regarding the various tools.
You have a set of tools which you will examine evidence with., again the same as the TV series. For instance you might want to collect fingerprints from a door know with the fingerprint duster or reveal traces of blood with Luminol or the UV light. The tools are pretty neat especially when animated, but processing the evidence isn’t particularly difficult: since the game is as linear as it could be, you could even go the ‘try-evey-single-tool’ route and eventually find what you need.
The evidence isn’t hard to find either. Whilst on the crime scene an item will jump out at you as collectible, and you can always click the whole of the screen to eventually find the piece you need to complete the puzzle. In this sense, the aspect which should have been the focus of a game of this type is definitely lacking; the player never feels as if there is a true involvement in the game as there are no requirements to truly think, analyze or remember the information which is given to you.
The ambience and sound of the game does it’s job, never proving too annoying and conveying the differing atmosphere of the cases well.
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The idea of having a game which follows in the footsteps of the series is a good one. However, the execution isn’t what I expected it to be. The game remains way too short, and offers little in terms of puzzle or replayability.
You can finish this in less than three or four hours, assuming you keep on playing in one session, which leaves you wondering what the whole point was. This also says a lot about value for money.
Fair to say that the game was intended as part of a series, but that certainly is not good enough reason to make the game so thin.