reviews\ Apr 26, 2004 at 8:00 pm

CSI: Dark Motives - PC - Review

The first CSI had several good attributes that managed to make it a halfway decent adventure game. Each case had a mildly interesting story behind it and the television cast performed all of the dialogue. It was very linear and many gamers criticized the game as being too easy. To be fair the game was designed for a certain type of audience and perhaps not for adventure gamers who enjoy brain-freezing challenges. So the solutions to CSI were pretty simple and it was short. With a little diligence you could get through it in a couple of sessions, especially adventure veterans.

CSI Dark Motives is similar to its predecessor in many ways. Once again the television cast delivers the dialogue and does a fine job doing so. As with the first, Griss greets the player as a new CSI recruit during a particularly eventful night shift. Each case has an intriguing set of clues you must find and combine with a theory and a motive in order to get your arrest. To its credit, each case in the game is made to follow the series very closely whether it’s the detailed plot or the risqué crime right down to the subtle off hand remark made by one of the regulars.

For those of you who never experienced the first one, CSI Dark Motives plays just like your usual adventure game. You must use the mouse cursor to scroll over the screen in search of hot spots. Sometimes the screen can rotate 360 degrees. Other parts of the investigation allow you to zoom into a specific area where you can perform different actions in order to uncover more items and clues. For instance, you can dust for prints, swab for fluids, makes molds and casts of wounds, take impressions, lift tire marks or utilize UV to find trace elements like splattered blood.

Once every thing is collected from the crime scene you can interrogate witnesses and suspects. A dialogue tree sprouts up and you just basically click on each question to get a response. This is the most linear aspect of the game but your CSI teammates usually chime in with useful comments. If you get stuck anywhere in the game you can simply click on your partner for a helpful hint to get you going again. Occasionally dialogue options pop up that appear to be out of sequence but it doesn’t happen that often and it isn’t a serious blemish.

The case file has been revamped for this incarnation. A triangular graph allows you to chart your progress with each suspect so you can gauge when it is time to go to Brass for a search warrant. The case file also puts all the clues and information together in a brief comprehensive element that is easy to scan through during each investigation.

The crime lab has also gotten a bit of change albeit a small one. The computer has a more interactive feel this time around because you can do a bit more with it than in the previous game. This also goes for the microscope. The interface for each machine is more interesting visually and offers the player a more analytical perspective.

The environment and background graphics seem a bit crisper but definitely not cutting edge. They do the job well as do the little ambient sounds like chirping crickets or ringing phones depending upon what location you are investigating. The music adds a nice mysterious texture to the proceedings as well. I think the character models look much better this time out. If you are a fan of the television show than I can recommend this game to you. For others, especially adventure veterans CSI Dark Motives may turn out to be too easy and a tad too short.

Review Scoring Details for CSI Dark Motives

Gameplay:  7
A point and click adventure where you scroll over every single thing on the screen in order to uncover hidden clues. The CSI tools make this more interesting than it sounds.

Graphics:  7
The environment is crisper but still appears fuzzy in larger locations which takes some getting used to. The character models look much better in this second installment.

Sound: 7
The voiceover work is done by the television cast and is probably the best part of CSI Dark Motives. Fans will love it; other gamers may wonder what the big deal is. I did experience a weird buzz sound every now and then. It was loud and annoying and forced me to exit and re-launch in order to get rid of it.

Difficulty: Easy
Very linear with options to ramp up or diminish difficulty levels. You can also ask your partners for hints but if you do it on your own, neat little bonuses will be unlocked at the conclusion of each case. There’s incentive for ya.

Concept: 7
Dark Motives follows the first game closely but there are several improvements that help move the game along more smoothly with a welcome visual upgrade. I also thought the cases were more interesting this time around. The crime reconstruction movies are just like the show and get pretty gross and surely contribute to the mature rating.

Overall: 7
This is a decent adventure game that CSI buffs will no doubt dig. It has several bothersome drips that keep it from appealing to a larger adventure genre crowd. When I watch the show, it always seems to start off with an exciting bang and then somewhere in the middle I start looking for the remote. Same thing here, the stories are good, the voice work is strong but the investigating parts in between tend to get a little tedious. Even with all the cool CSI crime fighting tools.


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