Monday, January 14, 2008

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Dark Motives

This game is about as good as the television property it's based on. In case you don't know, the show is shite

After powering up the cart you find that the top screen is entirely occupied by tabs and menus. It looks sort of like the MS Word Options dialogue box. There are more menus on the touch screen. It just seems really amateurish. Not what I'd expect from Ubisoft but exactly what I'd expect for a licensed game like this one. You can tell that the developers had a meeting, probably on a Thursday night, and decided that the game was done, it was working, and they could either take the day off tomorrow or come in and add some polish. I guess they couldn't resist the call of the long weekend.

If I were to do a detective game I'd give the character an equipment bag with his equipment in it; not a Tool Menu, an Evidence Collection Menu, an Evidence Detection Menu, a Locations Menu, a Case File Menu, a Suspect Menu and who knows what else. There are enough menus here for a dieter's convention.

Seems like a small issue but clicking through all these menus takes away from the gameplay. I didn't feel like a CSI, I felt like an administrative assistant trying to keep my filing cabinets straight.

The first investigation could have used a better story too. When I heard the details of the case I thought to myself "Isn't this really a civil matter?" Without giving too much away a stuntman has an accident but he's fine. He feels there was nothing suspicious about the incident and doesn't feel an investigation is warranted. Who called the CSIs in then? No death, no charges, no motive, no payoff, no suspicious circumstances; he's a stuntman for gosh sakes. Surely accidents are part and parcel of this guy's lifestyle. We're supposed to think that the motive has something to do with the low ratings of Mr. Stunt's television show. I guess an accident would up their ratings. Dudes, why not just make up a better stunt? Or make crashing the stunt. You seemed to be able to pull that one off without a hitch. I really didn't get it. After talking to the stuntman in the hospital--he was only there to visit the cafeteria I guess--I felt like the whole thing was wrapped up and let's get back to the office and wait for someone who actually needs Crime Scene Investigators.

Brass felt differently though so off to the scene of the events in question. Everyone was a dead end and since there was no money or murder involved I wondered why I was bothering and if there was a Coffee Menu. At the crime scene you sift through menus to find your fingerprint lifter or swab to collect evidence. The game mechanic can be described as "Find the hotspot." You sweep your stylus over the crime scene and when the cursor arrow turns to another, different kind of arrow you know you should take a closer look. Then you cart your evidence back to the lab and some jackass in a white coat tells you that the broken spring you found is a broken spring and that the metal broke. Thanks Einstein. Did all these computers tell you that?

Then you show your fingerprint you found and scan it in the computer and guess what? Every suspect has priors so you've got your man as soon as you lift a print. Just like in real life.

At this point I started falling asleep and pulled this cart out of my DS. I was done.

Skip this and dig out your copy of Policequest. Now there was a cool game. Remember that old Sierra title? Or try these DS alternatives: Hotel Dusk: Room 215, the Phoenix Wright series, or Trace Memory.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Dark Motives: Sell 'er.

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