CSI: Miami

Developer:  369 Interactive
Publisher:  Ubisoft
Year Released:  2004

Review by Mary Rose Fox (January, 2005)
Crime rarely takes a day off. Those working at the Miami Dade CSI also rarely get a day off. Fans of the TV series and those fascinated by the world of forensics may not want to take a day off from playing this third instalment of the CSI games.

Like its predecessors, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Dark Motives, this game is based on the TV show and the character voice acting is by the original cast members. Anyone having watched at least one episode of the show will feel at home as the script for each character is true to form, it's easy enough to imagine yourself as a member of the team. The graphics are pretty good, with video clip quality movie sequences of Miami locations, though the characters could have been more accurately portrayed. CSI Calleigh Duquesne does have a fair resemblance to her live counterpart, Emily Proctor, and others are easily recognised, but I did find it difficult to tell the difference between Eric Delko and Tim Speedle (played in the show by Adam Rodriguez and Rory Cochrane).

Putting that niggle aside, the game itself is engrossing and intriguing. Anyone fascinated by forensics will have some fun with this latest instalment of the CSI crime solving adventure games. There is no need to have played the previous games and for those new to this type of game there is a very good tutorial level just to help you get started.

Five new cases to solve
Every one of the five crimes is unique, and all are varied, while the last case ties all the others together in a complex web of intrigue. Once again you work alongside the characters of the TV show, and although you are supposedly a new recruit, there is sometimes the feeling that you are actually playing the CSI characters, as it is their voices you hear talking to the witnesses and suspects.

I found the suspect/witness interviewing a bit tiresome at times and on occasion found myself wondering who I should talk to next, but then reminded myself that this is a crime investigation adventure where suspect/witness interviewing is a vital element. You get to ask pre-determined questions by clicking on text presented on the screen (depending on what evidence you have discovered) which keeps you on track of the story line and saves you from having to figure out what questions to ask who. Though this can also be annoying as sometimes the obvious questions are left unasked. All conversations are subtitled, so for deaf and hard of hearing players, and people like me who have a busy household with many distractions, you can read the text and not miss a beat.

CSI Miami has an easy to use interface, which hasn't changed much from its predecessors, so no huge adjustments have to be made by anyone who has played a CSI game before. For those new to the games, as mentioned above, the tutorial is very good in teaching you how to get around.

At the beginning of each case Horatio Cain (David Caruso) gives you a quick introduction to the crime, and then you're off with your newly assigned partner to start the investigation.

Useful tools and places
As with the first two CSI games there are a variety of tools for detecting and collecting evidence and you must search each crime scene very carefully. Then it's back to the lab for lab technician Valera to help with the analysis. You can further process evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, DNA, and audio samples with the aid of the computer, and something new: encrypted messages can be deciphered. Added to this there is the microscope for processing hair samples and bullets, among other things, and new to CSI: Miami is the assembly table for putting together evidence, much like a jigsaw puzzle.

To help you along in your investigation there is also the morgue where Dr. Alexx Wood MD helps out with any queries you may have about the deceased. You can even take a closer look at the body, something you should do at the crime scene as well as the morgue.

Another important location is the police station where Yelina Salas can find more information for you as well as get search and arrest warrants. New locations appear as you progress through each investigation, and sometimes it's wise to return to a location a little later as new evidence may appear.

After you have solved a case Horatio will give you one of his gems of wisdom on crime, and how to be a good CSI.

Other useful things
During each case you may ask your CSI partner for hints if you're stuck, but it will cost you at the end of the level when you get to view bonus content after the completion of each case. The good news is that there is a way of redeeming yourself by answering five observational questions. The amount of help provided, and the way the game is structured to lead you through conversations is ideal for new players but, be warned, there are times when you may be stuck yet have no hints available.

CSI Miami has a variety of game settings and options and automatically saves for you. There are varying degrees of difficulty, which you can set at the beginning of the game. You also have a choice of a full install or minimal install. The game comes on three CDs which, when looking at the number of movie clips, is quite understandable. I did encounter a major problem with the game during the last case and (as with a lot software these days) I had to download a patch, which is available at the Ubisoft web page. Once the patch was installed I found I had to re-do the last case from scratch, as it won't work with a case in progress.

All in all
Ubisoft have managed to improve on the CSI game formula by introducing more puzzles, something I personally enjoy in adventure games. Add this to a host of familiar characters, a variety of cases, and it's all very engrossing. At the end of each case comes that satisfying feeling as you get to put the bad guy behind bars.

So there you have it, another enjoyable crime solving adventure game, and because of the amount of help on hand, especially good for the casual player and fans of the TV Series. I'm a fan of CSI so hopefully we'll see more in the future. rating:  

Copyright © Mary Rose Fox 2005. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Minimum configuration: Supported for: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP only, Pentium III 750 / Athlon 750, 256 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0 (included with Product) 16 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible graphics card, DirectX 9.0 compatible audio card, 16x CD-ROM Drive, 650 MB Free Hard Drive Space