CSI: New York follows on the heels of Gameloft’s Miami game and takes place in Manhattan following the likes of Mac Taylor. As Mac, you travel from crime scene to the labs directing the likes of Stella Bonasera, Sheldon Hawkes and Danny Messer. As a game, CSI boils down to three types of gameplay. On site, you’ll be playing the traditional adventure game which involves pixel hunting for clues and evidence to collect for the labs. Once you identify some suspects or witnesses, you have to perform interrogation, which is the dialogue driven part of the game. Finally, a portion of the game is spent in the labs where you process the evidence by playing some mini-games.
Coming from a person who is not an avid fan of the show, I thought the storyline started off well with a bang but dipped after that as it seemed like Mac was simply chasing his own tail for awhile before getting to the juicy suspects. The last segment of the story introduces an unbelievable twist. Maybe it is par for the course for CSI but any casual fan will likely be turned off by the unmasking of the true culprit.
I also found towards the end of the game, you do less on scene work. There are some crime scenes that Mac is simply asked to accept something Hawkes or Bonasera has done and process the evidence in the crime lab. To me it felt like it was more of a cop out as those two incidents would represent a perfect setting to do more of the adventure pixel hunting work. But as it stands, the first half of the game has a lot of adventure components to it while the latter half is more about the mini-games and interrogation to bring the story to a close.
While CSI is an interesting game, it suffers from the same problem as the Miami outing. After you complete the game and you solve the mystery, there’s not much reason to keep the game around. You can repeat the game at a higher difficulty level in which you get fewer aids to unveil clues and the mini-games become harder, but otherwise the story remains the same. Part of the reason I kept playing through the game was to find out who the murderer was.
The mini-games themselves are tightly designed. Some have you comparing DNA looking slides, bar graphs, and finger prints and guessing within a few seconds whether they are the same or not. DNA analysis involves playing a Puzzle Bobble/Bejeweled type game with the double helix and different color cubes. Place the correct cubes in a chain and your DNA analysis progresses. The most innovative game involves using your mobile phone camera to take a picture of something. But as the game wanted you to take a picture of something dark, you could just leave the lens cap or cover up the lens to get your picture even though the game asks you not to. I wish there were more ways to integrate mobile phone functions into the game, but unfortunately this element of the game only came up once.
CSI’s New York outing is a serviceable outing for an adventure game. However, the level of quality at the end of the game for both the storywriting and the gameplay keeps this one from being an all around winner. Fans of CSI will undoubtedly want to check it out with its license of the New York show. Keep in mind, though, you’ll finish within the time it takes to watch a single show.