CSI: FATAL CONSPIRACY

by TELLTALE GAMES; UBISOFT

Jud’s Game Rating:

Graphics: *****  Player participation (PP) ***  Satisfaction Factor (SF) *****

Frustration Factor (FF) *

This M-Rated Game is terrific – in so many ways.  The Graphics are clear, function well, are great to watch and use, providing great realism – excellent natural lip-sync and movements, clever background details like open sheet music on the piano – with only a couple of picky little flaws to fix – consistently the armpits are set too high, which makes the shoulders look weird.  I did not lower the Graphics score because of this, as I am sure that each new Game will iron out these wrinkles.  And the authenticity of the Graphics is brilliant.  So impressive.  Extreme SF!

  • The Game installs and opens on the Hard Drive from the Desktop icon, using Windows 7.  For quite some time I was unable to get the Game to place the ShortCut Icon on the Desktop, so I had to open the Game using the disk.  When I installed it onto my XP PC the Icon was there on the Desktop and it opened perfectly.  “Strange” I thought.  So I searched in the various files and folders in My Computer, and finally discovered the ShortCut hiding in Saved Games, dragged and dropped it onto the Desktop, and away I went!  What a relief.
  • The Clarity of the graphics is down to the Resolution – default setting of 1024 x 768.  If you use the slide control under Audio/Video in Options you can increase the setting to 1280 x 720 or further if you choose.  The 1280 setting makes the image thinner and smaller but very clear.  I tried both settings, chose not to go higher, then opted for the default setting – larger image and clear.  I was able to remove my glasses, which I need for typing text, and sit a little further back to play the Game without eye-strain – high SF!
  • In MAIN MENU / OPTIONS are Game and Audio/Video Settings; plus an excellent Tutorial that you can choose to play before you begin the Game, if you are a first-timer.
  • The stories are presented differently this time – more like, and labelled as,  Episodes of one major Case, or 5 distinctive Cases with an underlying yet ultimately over-riding Case that seems to be separate from them but always lurking in the background.  Makes for intriguing Gameplay, with unexpected turns to each Case, that lead the Player to realise that there is more to each Case than meets the eye.
  • Each Case in the Game opens with 3D CG ‘TV Show type’ footage, setting up the Crime Scenario prior to investigation.  I know that in the previous Games this has been done to varying degrees, but this is the first time it has been done at such length and to such a degree.  It is informative and captivating.
  • Tools: COLLECTION – Camera, Adhesive Specimen Mount, Swab; FLUIDS – LCV, Luminol; FINGERPRINTS – Powder Brush, Magnetic Powder Brush, Ninhydrin; CASTING – Mikrosil, Casting Plaster and Frame.  TOOL BOX turns blue on Hotspot.
  • Locations: Crime Scene/s, Main Lab – Materials Lab and Data Lab, Brass’s Office, Morgue, Crime Lab Garage, Interrogation Room.  These are accessed via the PDA, as are the Evidence, Case Files, and Options.
  • Equipment:  MATERIALS LAB – Chemical Substance Analysis/DNA Computer; Microscope/Document Analysis/Macroscopic Comparison Computer; Assembly Table.  DATA LAB – Database Computer – Fingerprints/ Medical Database/ Computer Analysis; Audio/Video – Audio Analysis/Video Playback.
  • Al Robbins, at the Morgue, expounds on Forensic information found during the Autopsy, explaining in detail what he has found and its significance.  He picks up the body for you, then asks you to wait till he has completed the Autopsy – unlike the previous versions of CSI – then calls you on the cell phone to let you know he has completed it, to give you some info from it, and to invite you to visit him at the Morgue as soon as you are able.
  • Very rarely in this Game will you personally collect blood samples, Fingerprints, or other Trace Evidence from the body at the Crime Scene or the Morgue.  This is done for you, along with clothing, and suicide notes, then handed to you in the Morgue by Al Robbins.  Occasionally he suggests you check a particular detail, take a photo of bruises, collect fragments from a hand, or swab stomach contents, but this is rare.  This is just an aspect of the erosion of the PP of the Game.
  • Another example is the collection of DNA or fingerprints from Suspects in the Interrogation Room – these are collected automatically.  Then there is the way that a Glove automatically picks up an Item and Tweezers automatically pick up tiny fragments and Trace for you if you click on them.  When a gun is found it is automatically fired and the bullet sample collected for you – no longer do you get to dismantle the gun or fire it and collect your own sample bullet at the Assembly Table.  More PP erosion.  The Computer Analysis, and Medical Records are no longer interactive – the Data is brought up after Search is clicked.
  • However offsetting this somewhat, are the great processing PP for the DNA, FINGERPRINTS, and CHEMICAL ANALYSIS in the Crime Labs.  These are very interactive, and really well devised.  The DNA is now fun to do, instead of an eye-strain.  The Chemical Analysis gets quite complex and subtle at times.  The Fingerprints are like those that you see Abbie do in NCIS!
  • The MACROSCOPE and the MICROSCOPE are great as well – straight comparisons in the former, and lens and power adjustments in the latter – the FF of trying to match up the items, while the Game refuses to acknowledge it, is removed.  The DOCUMENTS Analysis is also interactive, though not as enjoyable somehow – in the former in earlier versions of CSI Games, there were codes to break in emails, and notes.  And finally, the AUDIO/VIDEO items – cell phones, laptops, hard drives – require a degree of PP.  Plus at least we have our camera back and can take photos of the Crime Scene and Evidence!
  • Captain Jim Brass provides the usual service of looking up an assortment of Data like personal or criminal records and addresses,  for you, authorising Search, Interview, and Arrest Warrants, and initiating BOLOs.  He contacts you with pieces of info by cell-phone, or gives it to you in response to you queries in his office.
  • There is often some FF when you go to Brass’s Office to get a Warrant or ask for a suspect to be brought in, and the Evidence you need to present to him, to prove why you want the particular action, is not in the list that pops up – yet you know you have just processed is successfully.  The answer is usually that there is some other action or evidence that you have missed, or not finished processing fully, or some person – like Al Robbins – that you haven’t had one more conversation with.  Check through it all and then the way will be made clear once more.
  • Tip:  When in the Construction Office at the Casino building site, searching it for the first time, make sure that you check the computer keyboard twice, carefully.  There are 2 pieces of evidence on it, despite the fact that the Hotspot might not show up at first.  There are a few times, both at locations and with already collected evidence, when this happens – Evidence is not always visible and/or you have difficulty finding the Hotspot.  Persevere!
  • In each Case, when you first open the Crime Labs’ equipment, Trend Micro checks it with a Virus Scan.  After that you can use it for that Case as often as you like.
  • When Evidence is complete it is Green Tagged.  When Locations are completely searched they are Green Tagged.  This does not mean that you cannot and should not revisit these sites – you may need to further question suspects there.

Episode 1:  FLASH BAKED

The Crime Scene opens at the fire-damaged premises of Superla Spa.  After a careful search it is evident that this devastation is the result of arson.  Then a body is found beneath the crust of a volcanic-ash mud bath.  Arson turns to murder!  So why are the FBI interested?

Episode 2:  PLANTING EVIDENCE

A young Construction Foreman is discovered sprawled across a Prickly Pear in a courtyard cactus garden at the trouble-plagued building site of the new La Ventura Casino.  He has obviously fallen to his death from an unfenced balcony outside the CEO’s Construction Office.  Was it suicide or was he assisted?  And why are the FBI interested in this Case too?

Episode 3:  TAPPED OUT

A wealthy, incapacitated, badly-burned patient has died in her home.  Found by her Home-Care Nurse and her step-sister, the cause of death is due to an overdose of Morphine.  Unable to move, except to turn her head and move two fingers on her left hand – used to press the Morphine button when she needed more medication – there is no way she can have smashed the Morphine pump, beside her bed, which delivered the fatal dose.  It must be murder!  Ongoing background FBI presence during this Case.

Episode 4:  ALL WASHED UP

In a car wash, a young woman is found slumped, dead from an apparent drug overdose.  Known to only use drugs recreationally, this looks like an unfortunate mistake – except her ear-ring is missing.  When the car is searched at the Crime Lab Garage, evidence is found that points to murder.  Once more the FBI intrude into the narrative, more forcefully this time.

Episode 5:  BOSS FIGHT

Now the narrative becomes convoluted, and very complex.  The murderer from the previous Case is shot dead in a holding cell while awaiting transportation to FBI Quantico.  The Sergeant-in-Charge has been knocked out, and the killer has intentionally left a ‘calling card’ so the FBI and CSI are in no doubt.  This keeps you involved till the 3D CG movie-type ending.

I highly recommend this thoroughly enjoyable Game.

For Walkthroughs of this Game go to UHS Hints at:   www.uhs-hints.com/

(C) Copyright  Jud House 3/06/2011

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