CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-06-15 Xbox Adventure M (Mature) Ubisoft / 369 Interactive

On one of our bored days, husband and I headed to our usual friendly neighborhood Blockbuster to grab a couple of new releases, but unfortunately the ones we wanted weren't in. So I looked around for a while and decided to bring home something I've wanted to try for quite a while: CSI for the Xbox.

I'm a big CSI fan. I don't think I've ever watched any show as much as I watch this one, and I especially like the Vegas series because of the cast. I like Grissom's way of quoting books or speaking in metaphors. I like Greg's weird sense of humor and the way he acts with Nick. I like how everyone in the show has a story of their own outside of the crime labs. I was expecting to spend a good amount of time analyzing evidence and solving crimes while having fun with this game.

This turned out to be not entirely true.

The first part of the game is the original PC game, and let me tell you, for an Xbox version, nothing seems to have improved. There were bugs all over the place, especially graphic ones: red lines defining spaces where characters were; bad lip synch right in the beginning of the game; background textures not aligned properly; choppy or faulty animations resulting in ghost images; no lip movement when certain characters were talking; spelling errors in the subtitles; no sound at a certain point and in a final FMV sequence for solving a case. Hello, where the hell were the game testers?

The bugs went on to comparing things on the computer in the lab. DNA samples wouldn't match even when they were visibly the same. It becomes a trial and error process finding matches among evidence, since sometimes samples that look different actually match. The same thing happened with comparing tire tracks. You may be a hell of a CSI, but when matches are made from things that look obviously different, how are you supposed to guess?

Bugs aside, the game has its positive aspects. The script is great and was created by Max Allan Collins, the writer of the series. The original cast of CSI does the voice acting for their virtual counterparts and it's done perfectly, but we can't expect any less from acting professionals. The music is very appropriate and resembles the soundtrack of the show (with a little Deus Ex twist). The attention to detail in evidence and tools used to recover it is amazing. The cut scenes resemble the TV series, where reenactments are shown in detail (bullets going through a chest, poison circulating in the blood stream, a victim being strangled).

After beating the first part of the game (5 cases) with the solving of Grissom's disappearance, the cases from CSI 2: Dark Motives will be gradually available.

In the first few seconds, you can clearly see an improvement in the likeness of the characters and in the graphics overall. And after a little while, you realize that solving the cases isn't as easy and direct anymore. There is a lot more talking involved in this part of the game, back and forth with the suspects, combining pieces of evidence together, and it's not as easy to get a warrant anymore. You need concrete evidence linking the suspects to the crime scenes in order to bring them in or get a warrant to investigate their homes or offices.

I was finally accepting that Dark Motives had better production when it hit me like a ton of bricks: in front of Le Figaro restaurant the amazing vertical texture alignment (or should I say lack of it) was back! Oh, and there was some more absence of lip synching and choppy animations to go with it.

But that wasn't all. Searching and recovering evidence from certain places was too obvious (alleyway near Le Figaro for example), as they were lighter in texture and there was a big contrast between them and the background. You might as well just put a big red arrow there saying "Evidence here".

To keep my mind away from the graphical glitches, I decided to try and count how many times Greg could say "computer" during the solving of a single case. But then I gave up on that since every foot print, tire track, fingerprint and DNA sample goes straight to the computer.

Another drawback, the game is short. I was solving the last case for the first part of the game within 5 hours of starting it up. The whole 10 cases took me about 10-12 hours to solve. No bonus either, just the same cases from the PC games.

Since every time I completed a case little extras would unlock, I was curious as to what I would unlock at the end of the game, having solved everything with a "Master" average. I checked to see what the extras were, and more conceptual art was available. Except that the titles had nothing to do with the images at all.

I was expecting better, a lot better. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist. There was no high definition support either, and fuzzy textures on an Xbox game are pretty sad, considering the system's possibilities.

The evidence is conclusive and speaks for itself: it was a crime releasing the game in this condition for the Xbox. Someone should really investigate how come these bugs made it through all the way to retail stores. The CSI cast deserves a better tribute than this poorly executed game.