|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Legacy Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 28, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Sometimes you can't expect miracles. CSI is an extremely popular television series. It engages the viewer, taking them along for the ride but also allowing them to exercise their analytical crime-solving skills in the process. At the very least, it's fascinating to passively watch the professionals go about their duties. Ultimately, you will always learn something. One would think a crime-solving show such as CSI would make a great, interactive video game. Here's an opportunity for viewers to demonstrate what they've learned from watching the show. It sounds like a great idea, but, unfortunately, the technology required to make this game realistic is still in its infancy.
Like all of the CSI games, CSI New York: The Game is a linear simulation requiring you to follow procedures in a specified order, using a specified format, with specified tools. There is no room for improvisation or personal expression. You will never get a chance to show off your skills, since there's only one way to solve each case. The developers could have tried a little harder to create the illusion of freedom of choice, but ultimately we have to accept the fact that this is little more than a point-and-click adventure game exploiting the CSI license. Knowing this will significantly reduce our disappointment, as we realize that, like the TV series, we are merely along for the ride.
CSI New York: The Game follows the basic point-and-click formula. You'll explore the environment, collect items, enter into conversations with non-playable characters, and solve puzzles. Nothing wrong with that concept, but in the case of CSI New York, all of these elements become tedious after the second case. There are four major cases, with a fifth promised to be available for download in the New Year. Each case incorporates the same elements, and even though the storyline is different, the gameplay is essentially the same. Everything is done in much the same order. Instead of feeling like you're solving a crime, you feel more like the errand boy, following orders and procedures that are written in stone.
You don't have to know anything about the show to play this game. In fact, the less you know, the less disappointed you're likely to be. The two main characters, Mac and Stella, are featured throughout the game. Their likenesses are good, not uncanny, but you'll definitely have no trouble recognizing them or other characters from the show. That goes for locations as well. New York is a highly concentrated, concrete metropolis. While the game will not win any awards for its slightly cartoonish 2D graphics, it gets the job done. What passes for style is the apparent graphic novel-look, which is just a marketing term designed as an excuse for cheap, static drawings. Character interaction involves 2D renderings and conversation trees. The actors from the series provide the dialogue but it doesn't have the same impact or immediacy as the show.
At the beginning of each episode you will arrive at a crime scene. It will, of course, contain the body, and it will also be a source of clues. The stories are penned by actual writers of the series and they will keep you guessing. It's not ablatantly obvious whodunit. In one episode, there's an apparent suicide victim that looks as though he jumped from a skyscraper. A food critic is found dead, locked in a freezer at a restaurant. There are numerous suspects many with motives and others with seemingly airtight alibis. This is where you come in. You will search the scene for clues, taking them back to the lab for analysis. Witnesses and suspects need to be questioned. Eventually, you will arrive at your prime suspect(s) and step up the interrogation process, eventually uncovering the murderer.