Adventure & RPG
|CSI: Crime Scene Investigation|
July 29, 2004 | Nat Panek
The tidal wave of Aspyr-released ports keeps on coming with the imminent arrival of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, developed by 369 Interactive, for the Macintosh. The seamy underbelly of Las Vegas lives on your very own computer, dope dealers, con men, dead hookers and all. Essentially replicating the hit CBS television show of the same name, CSI is a point-and-click puzzle-solver in which players are asked to examine crime scenes, gather and analyze evidence, and question suspects in an effort to bring the guilty to justice.
Over the course of five cases, players will work side-by-side with the show’s main characters, including Gil Grissom, Catharine Willows, Warrick Brown and others to figure out whodunit. The first case includes something of a guided tour that walks you through the interface and instructs you in navigating the various scenes you’ll come across. These include crime scenes (rendered in a 360-degree, 2D panorama) and various locations around Vegas where you’ll find more evidence and people to talk to. Move your cursor over the scene, and it will change color when it passes over an item of interest; click to move to a close-up, pre-rendered area of evidence. In these places, you’ll make use of an extensive bag of tricks to detect and gather evidence. There are tools like the good old latex gloves and the fingerprint kit, as well as higher-tech stuff like UV lights and Luminal (which makes blood traces glow a cool blue color).
Once you’ve gathered everything useful from a scene, you can head back to the CSI labs to analyze it. Here you’ll find the boy genius Greg Sanders, who will almost always be able to tell you something useful about your evidence, as well as a microscope and computer database for processing things like fiber samples and fingerprints. Once you think you’ve built enough of a case against a certain individual, you can ask Captain Jim Brass to bring that person in for interrogation (essentially, choosing from a menu of computer-generated questions).
The interface is minimal, consisting mainly of three tabs along the bottom of the screen, allowing you access to locations (how you move from scene to scene), your tools, and the evidence you’ve collected. There is also a case file available at all times, which shows automatically generated notes on victims and suspects.
Once you’ve managed to narrow down the field of suspects in a case to the guilty party, you’ve completed the level, and are given a score based on how much of the available evidence you collected. Points are deducted if you asked your partners on the CSI team for help during a case. Regardless of your score, the next case is unlocked and ready for you to dive in.
A lot of effort has obviously gone into making the game recognizable to fans of the series. The main and supporting characters are all present, and all are voiced by the actors from the show. A longtime CSI writer scripted the five cases in the game, and the show’s hallmark “crime playback” scenes are also here, displayed in vividly animated, sometimes brutal detail (nothing like actually watching a bullet tear through someone’s innards in slow-motion to put you off your feed for a while).
While the game is very detailed graphically, it’s all in the design; there’s very little movement going on in the game, most of it given over to the examination of static scenes. The pre-rendered scenes are all flat set pieces, populated by 3D modeled characters, who do move, but not much. As for sound, there’s not a lot going on there either, besides the brief musical score, occasional ambient sound, and generally well-done vocal work. That said, Aspyr’s tentative system requirements are as follows:
Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later
PowerPC G3/G4/G5, 500 MHz or faster
256 MB RAM
2.3GB free disk space
3D Graphics Acceleration required (ATI Radeon 7500/nVidia GeForce 2 or better)
32MB of VRAM
The CSI game sticks close to the formula that made the television show a success. Will that be enough to satisfy criminal investigation-minded Mac gamers out there? As they say on TV, stay tuned.