Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More Ubisoft CSI

So I asked myself: "Why stop while I'm on a roll?"

Yes, apparently Ubisoft secured the gaming rights to almost all of the CBS crime scene investigation shows for a current total of nine games that I was able to find (that's counting the NCIS game I wrote about a few days ago).

CSI: Dark Motives

This one looks and plays just like the CSI Miami game I wrote about in my last post with the exceptions that this time it's the Las Vegas crew that you'll be working with and the GUI uses a different color scheme.
The characters are reasonable facsimiles of their RL counterparts and are all voiced by the actual actors (apparently they were cheaper than the NCIS cast).
I should also mention here that my shallow critique in the last post might have been somewhat premature and only partially accurate. While the physical interfaces of the gameplay make me feel like I'm playing an old DOSBox game, the gameplay itself is not entirely without its challenges.
At times I feel like I'm being led by a dangling carrot by either the game's NPCs or its ethereal narrator's sexy voice, but there are also times when I actually have to use my knowledge of actual CSI procedures (or at least their television and PC game equivalents) in order to determine which tool I need to collect which type of evidence and what to do with the evidence once I have it. So my assertion that the game could be played by an automated mouse clicking device might have been a tad harsh, though those suspect interviews are still way too shallow in my opinion.
Remember the story of Calleigh and the alligator? Well, apparently I neglected to use a cotton swab to collect a sample of a mysterious substance from the severed human forearm. Calleigh appeared quite bewildered by my obvious inexperience. Making a mistake in the game doesn't seem to cause irreversible harm (so far) but the narrator in the Miami game did mention that asking my CSI partner for clues will deduct points from my evaluation.
CSI: Deadly Intent
CSI: Three Dimensions of Murder
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy
CSI: Hard Evidence

The remainder of the games featuring the Las Vegas CSI crew are pretty much the same sort of thing. In some of them the toolbar GUI is replaced by a snazzy PDA, but the general feel of the games does not change much from one to the next.
As one would expect, the quality of the graphics has improved a bit as the series has progressed. However, the first few games in the series are just old enough that they don't include any options for playing on widescreen monitors at higher resolutions. Thus I haven't included screenshots from all the games here; I wasn't able to engineer a way to run a few of them in windowed mode on this rig and I didn't want to post images that are stretched and distorted. This also explains why the images I've included here are in two different aspect ratios; the ones in 4:3 are from the games that I was able to run in windowed mode on this rig while the 16:9 ones are the more recent games which included options for my monitor. In the cases of the older games that I couldn't run in windowed mode, I simply didn't feel like going over to the old Dell, taking the screenshots there and then e-mailing them to myself from the computer just four feet away. I'm such a lazy slacker...
CSI New York

This is where the devs went off on some strange tangent as far as visuals are concerned. Unlike the more traditional CGI used in the other games, here they decided to make everything look like it's from some sort of hip-hop Cartoon Network show.
It should also be mentioned that, despite the fact that all the actors from the show are billed next to the names of their characters in both the game's title sequence and on the credits page, this game contains no voice-overs whatsoever. Apparently Ubisoft decided to save themselves a whole bundle of money on this one.
Also unusual is the fact that this game can only be played at a 4:3 aspect ratio; unusual because the game was released in late 2008 when widescreen monitors were becoming more commonplace. Apparently the devs simply decided to cut corners there as well (pun intended).
Despite the decidedly different look of this game, the gameplay is pretty much more of the same. You scan over a picture with your cursor and click to collect evidence, then haul it back to the lab for the fine folks in their white coats to examine.
Here there's a plus and a minus. The plus is that you can apparently pick up clutter and junk that is totally irrelevant to the case, which I suppose could make the gameplay a bit more interesting depending upon what you might need to do with the discards later on. The minus is that when you click an item it is added to your inventory with an animated bounce that is accompanied by a springy sound effect reminiscent of a classic Warner Brothers cartoon (which I found very annoying). All things considered, I have to say that this is my least favorite of all the CSI games so far.
Before I go on, I need to again amend something that I printed in an earlier post. In my description of the NCIS game I said something to the effect that all the voice stand-ins were talentless hacks that sounded nothing like the actual actors from the show. That statement is only partially correct. Now that I've had more time to listen to them more carefully (I've completed the first three "episodes" of the game), I have to say that Betsy Moore, the gal doing the voice for the character Abby Sciuto, is actually doing a believable Pauley Perrette imitation. The others are still talentless hacks, but Betsy Moore gets an official Neko Kudo.
If you've read my ramblings this far then you're likely one of the people wondering how my Valentine's Day turned out. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. My girlfriend worked a weird double/split shift so we didn't have loads of time to spend together, but during her break in the afternoon we had a nice lunch out and then when we came home I was able to spring the games on her (as well as a few other gifts I won't bore you with here). She seemed genuinely impressed by the number of games I found for her and actually started playing the NCIS game, which I had a suspicion would end up being her favorite. She was able to play it for about half an hour before she had to go back to work and, though her quirky hand-eye coordination seemed to give her some minor troubles getting accustomed to some of the mouse operations required to solve some of the puzzles, she actually seemed to enjoy it. She enjoyed it so much in fact that, upon returning home in the evening she again surprised me. Usually her primary concern after work is finding out what we have for dinner, but on this particular evening she went to the computer and resumed playing the game, not remembering to mention food until after she had been playing for about half an hour. After taking a break to eat, she again returned to the game and I let her play for about another half-hour before I decided to be the responsible one and remind her that she needed to be up early the next day. I can honestly say that, compared to her playing Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger or Space Invaders for a few minutes at a time, this has been the most time I've ever seen her spend playing any video game. Score one for the gaming neko!

Now I have to worry that perhaps I've inadvertently created a game-obsessed monster...


  1. Well, this does answer the questions that both Nos and I posted on your last post. Hurray for hitting it on the head, so to speak, with the video game ideas! Glad things went well :)

    Just curious on this, but if you created a game-obsessed monster, does that mean there are two of you in the house now? ;)

  2. @Druuler:

    Not a problem; we have two computers! XD

  3. Kudos on the lack of dog house residing.

  4. Sounds like things went well.

    The time to worry is when you chat to each other via the computers :)

  5. "The time to worry is when you chat to each other via the computers"

    One of my ex-girlfriends was doing that with the guy she's with now. Between the constant chatting online as well as verbal/face-to-face, he still missed more than half of what was being said to him... *shakes head*

  6. I tried to resist linking it, I really did; but you guys just had to keep on with the chatting from one PC to another in the same room talk...

    NSFW, you'll go blind, don't click if easily offended, et cetera et cetera.

  7. LOL...

    That cartoon reminds me of a Polock joke about oral sex...

    ...and before someone jumps up shouting "RACIST!": yes, I am part Polish...


  8. Lol! Thanks for the link Nos :)

    I wouldn't call you "racist" Herculine. To the best of my knowledge, you don't hate humanity as a species. I, on the other hand...

    Oh, and now I am wondering which part is Polish XD *ducks for cover*

  9. @Druuler:

    The best part. XD

    On a different note, I've finished the NCIS game while she is still working on the first "episode" (she works more hours than I do and games less). I found it quite amusing to be able to pat her on the back and say: "Guessing doesn't solve murders, Probie."

  10. Lmao! I can just imagine the look you get from that line ;)