Not too long ago (possibly on the podcast) I was discussing some of my guilty pleasures in the world of video games. I don’t remember much about what I said, except for Cooking Mama. Of course every living creature knows Cooking Mama is awesome and nobody should be ashamed to admit it. No what I should have said is the CSI games. I’ve played each and every one of these things, even the Miami and New York games.
In fact I hadn’t even seen the show before I played any of the games. I got the Xbox game one Christmas Eve and I played that thing until 5 AM! After that I went out and picked up a DVD set of the first season and I was in. In recent years I’ve gotten away from watching the show but I still try out all of the games and I was all over the latest, subtitled “Deadly Intent”.
Alright, unnecessarily long-winded intro over, let’s move right into the review.
In Deadly Intent you’ll work your way through five different murder cases doing all of the things you would expect a CSI to do: collecting and analyzing evidence, interrogating witnesses, and of course making really bad and often terribly inappropriate puns.
I don’t really know when CSI became synonymous with terrible one-liners but the game keeps the tradition alive and well. Are CSIs in training required to take a course in this thing? Bad Puns 101? Then at the end you get a test that gives you various one-liner worthy scenarios and they see how you respond.
“Ok Question 4. The victim’s ex-boyfriend has been saying he’s clean and doesn’t do drugs but you just tested a urine sample that proves otherwise. One-liner!!”
“That’s gold! A fucking plus!”
In the very first case you find the body of a woman wearing a wedding dress. You’re just preying to god that nobody says “’til death do you part”. You have a feeling it’s coming but you cling to that false hope that maybe, just maybe, it won’t happen. Then the moment of truth arrives and with a stone face Brass quips:
“It’s like the priest says….”
Well I don’t really need to finish do I? As far as I remember that’s the worst pun example but my god. You can’t fault the game since it’s a perfect recreation of the show, I just wasn’t aware of how awful those one-liners had really gotten.
Anyway that was a lot of rambling to make one simple and fairly unimportant point so let’s continue. The graphics are, at best, serviceable. The character models look like whom they’re supposed to represent but that’s about the faintest praise I can muster up. There’s very little animation and the locations themselves aren’t that detailed or impressive. It certainly doesn’t work in the game’s favour that I’m just coming off of Uncharted 2, arguably one of the best looking games of all time. This one is in the top 10,000 easily. I might even say top 5,000. Overall I wouldn’t call the game ugly but it certainly ain’t attractive.
All of the actors from the show do the voices for their characters, which of course you always want with a game based off of anything. However I’ve never really been engaged by any of the performances in these games. All of the main actors simply don’t sound that enthusiastic about anything. Come on man, “til death do you part” is cheesy gold, sell me that shit! Then again the performances on the show are pretty low-key if memory serves me correctly, so maybe this is pretty true to their characters. Either way everyone sounds like they are always seconds away from falling asleep in the recording booth.
The secondary characters are ok, with some definitely doing a better job than others. Though there’s one guy in the third case who sounds like Huckleberry Hound, and that’s pretty awesome.
If you’ve played any of the previous CSI games you should feel right at home with this one as the basic gameplay has hardly changed. It’s still done in the style of a point and click adventure game. You’ll pick up objects, dust for fingerprints, match DNA, and so on. It’s all very reminiscent of the previous game, with the only major difference being that Morpheus is here instead of the dad who threw Marky Mark out of the window in FEAR.
This is not a game to play if you want a challenge. The whole thing is very streamlined. It’s not like you can make a mistake that will screw up the whole case, or get shot in the line of duty. Maybe the fingerprints you’re trying to match won’t be the same, but then you just try again. They won’t fire you for that or anything, although I hope that’s something they consider for the next CSI game.
Your hand is held pretty much the entire way through. If you’re ever stuck I can pretty much guarantee you it’s just because there’s some tiny, obscure item like a bottlecap that you haven’t picked up at one location.
However even if this happens usually before too long you get an email from Catherine Willows along the lines of:
“Hey dumbshit there’s a bottlecap at the crime scene. Better go get that.”
Plus you can always ask your partner to spell out the next step for you. So there’s never much concern that you won’t be able to progress.
The controls work ok, although I was playing this on the Xbox 360 which is by no means ideal for playing a point and click game. The cursor sometimes goes unbearably slow when you’re trying to move it across the screen. I eventually got used to it and settled in, but I can imagine for many this would be a deal breaker.
Ok so if you’ve read up until this point then you must be confused since I started out by saying these games were guilty pleasures and then went on to bash the game in nearly every category. Well this is where the entire review is going to fall apart because despite all of that, I still had fun playing the game. Problem is, I can’t really articulate why that is.
The stories themselves are certainly interesting (with possibly the exception of case 4, that one bored me a little) and I was always curious to see where everything was going. However there’s just something about the game that grabs me. Maybe it’s how unapologetically old school it is, but I just enjoy going through the process. I like putting together all of the clues and evidence and talking to suspects and all that. I eat that kind of thing up. I also kind of like that it’s streamlined because that greatly decreases the frustration factor. I never have to wander around confused for very long, I can just progress through the story and enjoy myself.
There are five cases in the game and each one will probably take you about 2-3 hours to beat. There isn’t much incentive to go through the game again, until maybe a couple of years from now when you forget all of the stories. However if you’re playing the Xbox 360 version the achievements aren’t as straight-forward this time around (the previous game gave you 200 points for each case solved) so if you want the full 1000/1000 you may have to play through a case more than once. I’m not saying that will necessarily be fun, but it kind of counts as replay value right?
I think that brings a close to my most scattered review to date. I think to sum things up I’ll say that I enjoyed the game, but can easily see why a lot of people would hate it. It’s definitely not for everyone but if you don’t mind the slow pace and overcoming some control hiccups, there’s some enjoyment to be had here. I know I’ll be back for the next inevitable installment.