IGN Review of CSI: Hard Evidence
Thirty minutes into the latest game based on the CSI TV show, and I was picking up a condom and taking a sample of the semen inside. To its credit, CSI: Hard Evidence is enjoyable enough that this didn't put an immediate end to my playtime. Hard Evidence offers five new cases featuring your favorite characters from the Las Vegas-based series. And Greg.
The five episodes have no connection to one another and no superfluous story elements that pull in the series' characters. These are whodunits that offer a similar blend of criminal science and slick cinematics that have made CSI one of TV's most popular shows for nearly a decade. But, of course, this isn't a show; this is a game based on a show. Even with the inclusion of CSI cast members providing voiceover work and some of the show's familiar visual style, without worthwhile gameplay, none of it really matters.
As with previous iterations, CSI: Hard Evidence is a traditional point-and-click adventure. Each episode starts with you, an invisible CSI rookie, being partnered with a character from the series. Then it's off to check out the crime scene (usually the site of a murder). You'll hop to a handful of locations for each case file. You have two goals in any location outside of CSI HQ: collect evidence and interview suspects/witnesses.
Hunting evidence is where the pointing and clicking come into play. Look around the static environment, mouse the cursor around, and click when it turns green. It's fairly easy, though some bits of evidence require a keen eye (or one of the limitless hints from your partner). Interviews (and later interrogations) require that you can click on a line of text to ask a question. There's almost never a second option. And when there is, you will always have the chance to ask both questions. This makes interviews and interrogations a worthless exercise. It's like having to press play over and over while watching a constantly pausing episode of CSI.
Things gets a bit more interesting when you have some evidence in hand. You'll head back to the CSI lab, where six different stations await. Each handles different types of evidence. Prepare to match a suspect's fingerprints with the print on a knife! It doesn't sound exciting (and involves little brainpower to pull off), but manages to somehow be engaging. The good news for CSI fans is that, while the formula remains the same, the interface of Hard Evidence is better than in the past. Not only does the lab look better, but it's easier to handle and analyze evidence. It's still very basic, but the lab is the one clear (albeit minor) gameplay improvements over the past.
Though the graphics are bland, and the gameplay completely uninspired, I have to admit that I got a kick out of watching these cases unfold. By all reasonable means, this is not a very good game. Yet, even as only a casual fan of the series, I found myself wanting to know whodunit. And so, to that end, CSI: Hard Evidence is a success. If you are looking for deep gameplay mechanics, forget it. But as a set of stand-alone CSI mysteries, Hard Evidence does the job.
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