I have to admit when I heard that Telltale Games was working on a new CSI game I was excited and worried at the same time. I was excited because I have always been a huge fan of the TV show and I was happy to finally see an installment coming to the PS3. I was worried because very few games adapted from television or film translates well. With games that are adapted from either the big or small screen, the main thing you look for is does the game capture the spirit of the source material and I am pleased to report that CSI: Fatal Conspiracy does that beautifully. My only complaint is that I wish they would have put a little more effort into the graphics on this one, but I’ll talk about that a little later.
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy drops us into the world of CSI as a new member of the original Las Vegas team. Throughout the course of the game you will work with several members of the team including Sara Sidle, Nick Stokes, Greg Sanders, Catherine Willows and finally Ray Langston. The game is broken down into a series of 5 separate yet interconnected cases, thus the “conspiracy” part.
By far the star of this show is the story, which I must tell you is rather refreshing for me to say. The truth is that I play a lot of games throughout the year as you might expect and far too often the story seems to be somewhat of an afterthought. The stories in each of the five cases you will work on are all top notch and challenging and we would expect no less since the story for the game was written by the writers of the actual show.
In the game’s first case you team up with Sara Sidle to investigate a possible arson that quickly becomes a possible homicide. This is a great case for all you rookie CSI’s to start out on. This case gives you the foundation that you will need to solve more difficult cases moving forward. All of the cases are very challenging and require logical thought, attention to detail and most importantly patience. The writers of CSI didn’t dumb their stories down one bit for the video game and I appreciate that, the bottom line is that so people just won’t be smart enough to figure out how to properly collect all the evidence, analyze and exploit it and that is just fine with me. Lots of people will complain that this game is too hard even with in-game hints turned up to high but I think they got the difficulty level just right. Each case is challenging enough so that when you actually solve a case it feels like an accomplishment.
During the course of your investigations you will have access to a plethora of tools in order to solve your case. You can use the fingerprint database to identify fingerprints you have found, run chemical and DNA analysis on material you have collected and tons more. The challenge here becomes finding the right tool for the job and collecting all the evidence. You will have the opportunity to execute search and arrest warrants, as well as interrogate suspects. The key with interrogations is to make sure you have fully exploited all the evidence you have collected before you talk to them so if they say something false you can hit them with the evidence that contradicts it.
When it comes to exploiting the evidence this is where it takes patience and some thought. When you get to a crime scene, you are looking for anything that will give you some idea of what really happened as you start to put the pieces back together. You will need to examine multiple points of interest to collect fingerprints, fibers, molds and unknown materials for further analysis. The trick here is to remember that most objects need to be further exploited before you can use the tools in the lab to truly find out what you need to know. Just a reminder here, make sure you pull up the evidence menu to check for fingerprints, DNA, and fiber that may be on evidence you have already collected.
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is a pretty good game, but to be honest it could have been so much better if only Ubisoft had put a little bit more time and money in it. The game won’t win any awards for graphics and to be honest it doesn’t have to but they could have made it look better than something from the PS2 generation. The game plays from a first person perspective, you pretty much look in a certain direction and then click to move there and/or take a closer look. In fact, the game doesn’t even have a traditional pause screen because well there is no need for one since there is nothing you would need to react quickly to, which I can’t complain about because for the most part CSI’s don’t have an overtly dangerous job.
A major issue with CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is that sometimes you spend too much looking for that last grain of evidence to break the case or trigger the next set of events, but even that doesn’t take away from the joy of actually breaking the case open and solving it. The biggest problem that this game has is that I think Ubisoft played it just a bit too safe and while they delivered something that the core audience will still enjoy I think they could have delivered a title that would have had more crossover appeal.
The bottom line on CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is that its a game that people who love the show will enjoy. Anyone who enjoys a game that is challenging and that will really make them think will also enjoy this game. This isn’t a game for everyone though and if you don’t fall into either of the categories then you might want to leave this one on the shelf. If you are a true fan of show though and are looking for an authentic CSI experience then you will enjoy the game and with a little luck you might just get to the bottom of the this “conspiracy”. For staying true to the show and delivering one of the best stories I have seen in a game in a while I give CSI: Fatal Conspiracy 6.5 out of 10.