by UBISOFT; UBISOFT SHANGHAI PRODUCTION
Jud’s Game Rating:
Graphics: ***** Player participation (PP) ***** Satisfaction Factor (SF) ****
Frustration Factor (FF) ** Fair Play (FP) **** Tedium Factor Nil
Based on the TV Series, this is another great M Rated game from Ubisoft. There are a few things I was disappointed with but on the whole it lives up to its hype:
MURDER, ESPIONAGE, TERRORISM. Join the NCIS team in their investigations. Crack exclusive new cases …; use each character’s special talent to help solve complex crimes; use your instinct and cutting edge technology …; and investigate crime scenes for clues, collect evidence, and perform autopsies.
It’s true. You do all these things.
The Designers have ramped up the game mechanics some more, but once more have taken away some of the PP. For example, they have made the evidence gathering a matter of pointing a camera at the hot spots, focussing, then clicking. That not only takes the pic of the scene or piece of evidence but somehow collects it and gives it to Abby. There is no Tool Box or, consequently, choice of tools to use. That gives low SF.
If you buy the game in its box you get the Manual which you will find is handy for dealing with the mechanics of the game-play, which is a little different from the CSI games. As there is no PDA with this game you need to press ESC to return to the Main Menu. Also it means there are no choices of locations to make, no permission to seek for actions, and you need to uas F1 to access your Objective Board/Evidence Inventory. You do get instructions as you go with the evidence processing in particular, which you need at first, but not all the time.
The Options contains Subtitles and Settings -> Graphic: Resolution & Quality; ->Audio: Music, Sound Effects & Dialogue. I adjusted the Resolution to 1280 X 960 but kept the Quality at Low after testing. You may like to mess about with that till you get what suits you.
The PP is as close to realism as they can make it – you get to lift and move things – furniture, crates, etc to gain access to blocked areas or reach high items or openings. You also get to turn the body over to photograph entrance and exit wounds, and any other injuries. The participation in Autopsies entails giving ‘Ducky’ the scalpel then taking pics of what is found.
You get to physically climb up, move along, jump down – a little like early HARRY POTTER games. But the way you relocate on the screen is odd – you need to click on a spot so that your character moves towards it, then again until you reach the spot you want.
The 3D CG character movements are slightly improved from the CSI: FATAL CONSPIRACY, but considering the wonderful 3D CG characters now used in Animated Movies – their physical realism, their movements, their emotions, their speech etc – I am bewildered by the lack of these attributes in the CSI and NCIS games. By now they should be outstandingly brilliant – and they sadly are not. Get your act together Ubisoft! Your characters do not compare with those in the Poirot Games, especially EVIL UNDER THE SUN.
The Voice-over Actors are regrettably not the same as the TV Series, but are acceptable. However, they have made Tony DiNozzo far too arrogant, egotistical and sleezy, and left out his warm side. It is unnecessary, irritating and detracts from the game-play.
When you are in the lab with Abby you test bullets, footprints, tyreprints, fingerprints in the computer – the lifting of fingerprints is hands on, and quite tricky. Just persevere and you will get the knack if you carefully follow the instructions. It is awkward though and remains so throughout the game.
When you are with McGee, every time you access his computer you need to crack the Password Puzzle. Annoying after a while. You also look up Data from Bank accounts to Classified Information; and track vehicles via Satellite Tracking which is fun. By the last Case this is also getting more difficult for physically challenged players. Ubisoft should consider that!
Safecracking is cool, and the Interviews are also good, but you need to be ready to click to get extra information, without which you cannot move on. And repeating the Dialogues gets frustrating, though you can fast forward through them by Right Clicking.
These activites all lead to the Deduction Board where you have to pair clues up to reach the correct conclusions. You are usually doing this with Gibbs, and explaining the bleeding obvious to him. Mind you, you can seem to get it wrong by doing it in the wrong order – so it’s not really wrong. Tricky.
Tip: Follow the instructions fullyand carefully with the bomb defusal. Do not hold the Left Click down during the ‘shake the mouse’ action.
Episode 1: JACKPOT There is a bomb attack at a Casino where two men are killed. Which of them was the main target, or did the bombers just want the cash?
Episode 2: IDENTITY THEFT A bank robbery is committed as simultaneously upstairs an Embassy is ransacked. Which is the main crime, or are they linked?
Episode 3: ABUSE OF POWER An Commanding Officer is murdered in Iraq from within his own camp. Is he all he seems to be, and is that a contributing factor or a red herring?
Episode 4: DUBAI This is a culmination of all three preceding Cases, with twists and turns, and ugly conclusions.
I highly recommend this game, though I wish there had been 5 Cases, and that the PP hadn’t been updated out of the Gamer’s hands.
(C) Copyright Jud House 27/03/2012
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