Hard Evidence’s PC point-and-click style should satisfy the casual gaming CSI set, but seasoned gamers won’t be interested in cracking this case
If you’ve managed to put down your gamepads long enough to pick up your TV remotes any time in the last several years, then you’ve probably channel surfed into CBS’ procedural crime drama juggernaut CSI.
With three separate versions–the original Vegas-set entry, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY–populating the prime time and syndication landscape, you’d be hard-pressed not to stumble across the crime scene investigating crew picking and poking at a fresh corpse. Now, with CSI: Hard Evidence landing on the Wii, players can get in on the morbid, murder victim-prodding fun. Like PC adventure games of old, Hard Evidence is a pick-up-and-play, point-and-click affair. But instead of mouse-clicking your way through the crime scenes, you’ll wave your Wii-mote and press its buttons to solve its cases; you can even give the Nunchuk attachment the day off for this super-accessible control scheme.
Despite its no-brainer controls, Hard Evidence does offer a fair amount of challenge in the form of hard-to-crack cases; in five separate episodes, couch-sitting CSIs will be required to uncover the clues behind a variety of grisly murders. As a new recruit with LVPD’s CSI unit, you’ll quickly meet Gil Grissom–complete with actor William Petersen’s likeness and voice–before partnering with Nick Stokes for your first case. Faithfully sticking to CSI’s Vegas-underbelly presentation, the crime scenes are gritty, blood-stained areas; this ain’t the MGM Grand Resort and Casino–we’re talking trashy bars and low-lit back alleys that you wouldn’t want to visit on your day off. That’s not to say you won’t get a feel for the Vegas spectacle: some quick video cuts, playing between cases, immerse you in the glitz with overhead pans of the Vegas strip. Most of your time, however, will be spent looking for the who, what, when, and where at the seedy scene of the crime. The very first case, for example, finds you in a back alley peering into a taxi cab whose driver has been barbecued by a flash-fire. By moving the Wii-mote around, you’ll uncover specific spots that deserve a closer look; place the cursor over something interesting, like say a partially hidden gas can, and the cursor turns green, indicating you should dig a bit deeper. We won’t spoil the fun for you, but doing so might uncover fingerprints, traces of a foreign liquid or, perhaps, a blood smudge. As you progress through the cases, more and more of these layered clues will test your wits and, sometimes, your stomach. Footprints, tire tracks and, ick, even discarded condoms will demand your crime-solving skills
Inspecting the various clue-carrying items involves utilizing the full spectrum of CSI tools; collection tools–swabs, gloves, tweezers etc.–will do the dirtier work, while detection devices–an ultraviolet light, magnetic powder and a data drive–will aid in the less nitty gritty, but equally important, analyzing and examining. Again, all this is done with super-simple controls; click while the cursor is represented by a small aerosol can, and it’ll spray its fingerprint-revealing chemical. Similarly, if you’re picking something up with the latex gloves, the cursor will turn into a hand while making a quick grabbing motion. Much of the clue collecting and examining can be done at the crime scene, but you’ll also need to visit various other locations to blow the case wide open; visit the morgue to get a closer look at a white supremacist’s nasty tattoos, head to the garage to fingerprint an impounded vehicle, or hunker down for a long night in the lab to use the tech toys–microscopes, databases, DNA analyzers etc. A PDA, which also tracks case data, will transport you to the various locations. Gather enough case-cracking info, and you can even head to Brass’ office to obtain the necessary warrants and such.
From the forensic tools and the series’ staple locations, to the gruesome crime scenes and the interaction with the show’s stars, Hard Evidence oozes with true CSI style. It does stumble a bit with its tedious interrogations; slogging through text-heavy conversations isn’t nearly as exciting as unlocking that final, case-breaking clue. And, to be honest, “exciting” may not be the best way to describe anything in the game. It has its moments, but they’re delivered through the cerebral satisfaction of problem solving rather than the adrenaline-fueled action that many gamers are accustomed to.
If you’re a hardcore CSI fan, or someone who misses old-school PC adventures, you should enjoy Hard Evidence’s simple, yet satisfying gameplay. But if you’re looking for car chases and fire fights, then this one will put you out faster than a bottle of Nyquil. This being the case, Hard Evidence is very accessible to the casual gamer. In addition to the easy-to-learn controls and gameplay, it also offers a hint system, so stumped CSI-wannabes will never be left scratching their heads at a confusing crime scene. Simply ask your partner, who’ll always be by your side, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Hard Evidence’s visual and audio presentation is pretty weak, but it does pull off the important stuff–the series’ characters, environments and voice-overs–well enough that fans of the show should get a kick out of Grissom and the gang doing their thing. The occasional videos, showcasing a crime’s dirty details, are also a nice touch; you’ll get a closer-than-you-like look at how a person chokes on their own vomit. Which reminds us, if that image, as well as the aforementioned used condom and charred cab driver didn’t tip you off, Hard Evidence is just as mature as its television counterpart. Best keep this one out of the same pile as Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Sports, lest your little one mistakingly finds their Wii-mote swinging a DNA swab instead of a baseball bat.
There’s no mystery here: Hard Evidence is squarely aimed at the casual gamer and/or CSI-addicted fan. No new gaming ground is broken, and players looking for a “gamers” game won’t find it here. However, if a simple, occasionally plodding, procedural crime adventure appeals to you, then you could do worse than joining Gil Grissom’s crew in this true-to-tv-show experience. Just be sure to slather on plenty of disinfectant when you’re done.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.5 Graphics
Weak, although the CSI-centric stuff is pretty well done. 4.0 Control
Simple, point-and-click interface. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Pretty minimal. Voice-overs are decent. 3.5
Great for CSI fans, not so much for anyone else.
3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.