PlayStation Universe

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy Review

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on 16 November 2010

The world of videogames can be a lonely place, especially if you are an adult and in a serious relationship with someone who isn’t particularly a huge fan of gaming. With that in my mind, we’ve looked for games that have something to offer both the diehard fan and those who still consider gaming nothing more than a childish hobby. A friend of mine told me how a few weeks after he got married, his wife stormed into the living room and taped her ring to his console, simply stating “if you love videogames so much, why don’t you marry them?” True story—we all had a good laugh at that one.

For the sake of this review, I’m going to assume that the diehard fan will want nothing to do with Ubisoft's and Telltale Games' CSI: Fatal Conspiracy, but I’ll give you a personal perspective of how it provided a weekend’s worth of enjoyment for my better half and myself. The game offers many of the same elements seen in the TV show—love them or hate them—including quirky camera angles when looking at evidence, and stories that are a bit bizarre if not incredibly entertaining.

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is mix of investigating crime scenes, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing evidence for cases that are all tied together, even if it’s only loosely realized in the first couple episodes. There are five levels, called episodes, in the game. Each can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to complete.

As I started to review this game, my lady watched (as she tends to) and was instantly excited because, unlike me, she is a huge fan of the television series. She filled me in on the characters (all voiced in-game by the actual cast), their roles, personalities, and some of their histories. Each episode is written by writers from the television series, so she said it felt like playing an episode of the show.

The problem with the game is, sadly, there is little to actually play. It’s more of an interactive TV show. You play an unnamed investigator, each episode partnering with another investigator from the show, and are tasked with solving various crimes. The view is first-person, and it’s clear that this game is intended for PC, or at least the Wii (we’ll get to the lack of Move support later). One analog stick moves the camera in a set area, while the other operates a pointer. The pointer changes as you thumb over evidence or find objects or tools to interact with.

The game really needed Move support given its gameplay format. Telltale really missed out by not allowing players to use the Move controller to gently dust for fingerprints or swab to lift DNA. While Fatal Conspiracy has its flaws, not allowing players to use Move is truly a missed opportunity from turning this mediocre game into something relatively interesting.

Moving around the game is extremely frustrating—and that’s not just coming from one of those diehard gamers we mentioned earlier; my fiancé was even more irritated with it than I was. As mentioned above, you have a set area where you can look, and typically only three different locations to investigate. It’s extremely tedious to actually find evidence at times, and it’s even worse when as the player, you see something out of place, but the game makes you wait for a certain point to actually collect that evidence.

This is a common problem through the game. Instead of feeling open to investigate throughout the levels, you feel forced to find specific evidence in order to draw the story further. Sure, there are times in each level when you need a warrant. We found ourselves overly annoyed when we knew we had the evidence, but there wasn’t the right new fingerprint lifted or chemical tested for the game to recognize you were ready to go search that empty apartment.

You’ll use different tools to lift evidence at crime scenes. The game offers a tutorial that makes it quite easy to learn how to play, and part of the challenge (and fun) is figuring out what tool you need to lift that yellow stain on the carpet. After you collect the evidence, you take it back to the lab to analyze it. All of this is done using mini-games, which are about as “game-like” as the actual game ever gets. The mini-games have you line up colored blocks to test DNA, or use a microscope to compare strands of fabric.

The game gets a bit tedious after the initial level. For example, every time you use a computer to run lab tests, you have to wait for it to boot up and run a security check. We understand the game was trying to stay authentic, but it ends up just feeling lame and left us tapping our feet, waiting for something to happen.

The voice acting and stories are pretty good, though. As someone who doesn’t care for CSI the show, I can say the stories were worthy of a videogame adaptation. From the perspective of my fiancé, since she already likes the show, she said they were pretty typical for the series, if a bit light on the violence and graphic nature. In addition, the graphics were not too bad—although, there were certainly times when the character models just looked downright terrible, and it was hard to decipher if that nurse (who everyone is saying looks skanky) is actually attractive because she looks like every other girl in the game.

For a weekend’s worth of gameplay, CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is fun enough, but the enormity of problems with the game cannot make up for the fact both diehard gamers and fans of the show will be overly frustrated. It has its moments of entertainment, the stories are fairly decent, the voice acting is very good, but the actual gameplay and overarching concept falls apart before we were given a chance to have fun.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Fatal Conspiracy Review by Adam Dolge

-The Final Word-

The stories and voice acting in CSI: Fatal Conspiracy are great, but the actual gameplay falls short.
  • Well-written, interesting stories
  • High-quality voice acting
  • Enjoyable enough for fans of the show
  • Bland and annoying gameplay--Move support could have saved it
  • Too many tedious activities
  • Poor graphics and character models
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic, Gamerankings and Opencritic