If you’ve ever watched an episode of the popular television drama CSI: NY and found yourself yelling an obvious clue at the screen, now you can put your mouse where your mouth is with CSI: NY – The Game.
This downloadable adventure (also available on disc from Ubisoft, with an extra fifth case to solve) is filled with "hidden object" searches, mini-games and interrogation sequences, as you work with familiar characters from the show in order to solve four separate crimes. They’re not difficult, nor are they long, but might be worth the $20 for serious CSI fans.
Each of the four tales begin with an intro reminiscent of the television show — including rock music that sounds a bit like The Who’s "Baba O’Riley" and an introduction of the main characters. Speaking of which, CSI: NY actors lent their voice and likeness to this game, including Golden Globe winner Gary Sinise (as Det. Mac Taylor) as well as Melinda Kanakaredes (Det. Stella Bonasera), Carmine Giovinazzo (Det. Danny Messer), Eddie Cahill (Det. Don Flack), and others. Too bad the graphics are about a decade out of date, but we’ll get to that in due time.
You’ll begin each story at a crime scene, such as seeing a dead body lying on the cement in front of a building. Was it suicide or was he pushed? You’ll use your camera (computer mouse) to take photos of anything interesting about the man (his torn fingertips, for example, indicating he may have been hanging onto the ledge for dear life).
After this task it’s time for a "hidden object game" (HOG) exercise, where you’ll collect clues at the crime scene (by matching a silhouette of the item), some of which you’ll analyze, others you’ll drag onto a partner’s profile (such as Det. Don Flack) for an opinion and most will be completely irrelevant to the scene, such as a rubber duck or peace sign. It’s always been a beef of mine with HOGs, when the items have nothing to do with the story or setting – but when you’re supposed to be a detective and solve a murder it becomes even more annoying.
Much of the item "analysis" comes in the form of a mini-game, such as piecing together torn paper scraps, tracing an outline of blood with a cotton swab, matching DNA samples and facial reconstruction, swiping fingerprints off evidence, and so forth. They’re somewhat fun — as is the decent story and dialogue between the characters — but it’s over before you know it (between 4 and 6 hours for all the cases). It basically ends in the interrogation room, with the killer explaining why they did it. There’s no need to play again as you already know who did it.
Not that you’ll need them, but the Hint option will help you get through sections quicker, too, should you require some help.
Visually speaking, the game is uninspiring. CSI: NY is about on the same graphical level as adventure games from the ’90s, such as the point-and-click adventures from LucasArts and Sierra. Disappointingly, detectives from the show and suspects are flat, 2-D cardboard cutouts instead of 3-D animated characters. Speaking of old adventure games, players will choose lines of dialogue from a short list of options when questioning suspects about their whereabouts and potential motives related to a crime.
While it’s not horrible, those who love detective stories should think about picking up Nick Chase: A Detective Story as it’s a more rewarding casual game for armchair sleuths with more relevant items and better mini-games.