CSI: HARD EVIDENCE

Jud’s Game Rating:

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

Frustration Factor (FF) Nil

I want to say that this Game is one of my favourites of the CSI Series.  It is excellent!  There were great storylines, a huge leap forward in format, and terrific graphics, all of which I will detail in their relevant sections, but which contributed to the SF dramatically.  The only FF was due to my inattention, and when I realised it I rectified it promptly.  So I am not counting that.

But a word of caution – if you want to play with no FF then when it appears as though you have done it all and are going round in circles, remember that you may have missed a prompt from your colleague, or a warrant.  Go back and check the locations again regardless of whether you think you are not allowed to – you may find you missed the info telling you to do just that.  I certainly did!

I will not spoil the game for you by giving you a blow by blow description of it.  Rather I will give you general playing details, plus furnish you with a Link to a Hints/Walkthrough site at the end.  Of course it goes without saying, that I will give you my opinion of the bits I like and those I don’t, along with my reasons for both.

  • Let me start by saying that CSI: HARD EVIDENCE will play on Windows 7, direct from the Hard Drive without the use of the disc – although the computer parameters for this Game, which are listed on the Game box as usual, do not include it.  It is advisable to install this game, downloading DirectX 9, and whatever version of QuickTime is allocated, and its specific patch from ubisoft+csi+patch – on a PC using Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows XP  Pro Service Pack 3, or Vista.  This will ensure that the Game opens to a full screen without any glitches.
  • But remember, if you do increase the QuickTime level from QuickTime 6, then earlier versions of the game will not open or work properly, unless you Reset the settings using Windows 7 Troubleshooting.  If you look at my previous article – Problems and Solutions – you will see the reasons why this QuickTime level is a problem for older Games, and how, if you follow the prompts within Troubleshooting under resetting older versions, you can make your computer adjust the settings of the earlier Games.  This should work – it did for me – but if not, other solutions are on that blog for you to try.
  • There is a separate Training Level on the Main Menu, which is really good and worthwhile for first-timers.  It is great that it is now optional, and return players are not subjected to interruptions in their play.  That’s one definite FF removed.
  • Under Options also on the Main Menu are the Difficulty Settings, Audio & Video Settings – including Graphic Quality, Dialogue, Music, Sound Effects and 3D Renderer (where it is advisable to set it on DirectX for clear or Open GL for soft graphics) – and Performance Settings. These Options are well worth while exploring before you get started, as they give you the opportunity to set the Game as you like it.  Bear in mind that if you change your mind, you can return and alter these parameters at any time.
  • A huge change in the format of this Game is the use of the PDA instead of the bottom of screen task bar.  It provides access to the Locations, Evidence, Options and Case Files, and sits to the side of the locations screen most of the time.  It is not in the Lab Computer Equipment Displays.
  • Within Locations are the Crime Scene/s, Mobile Laboratory, Crime Laboratory (Greg Sanders), Morgue (Al Robbins), Garage, Interrogation Room, and Crime Office (Jim Brass).  Grissom is in overall charge and gives you your new Cases and your Evaluation after each Case, and the characters from the TV Show accompany you as partners, as in the previous Games.
  • The Crime Lab has an Assemby Table, Comparison Microscope, Trace Analysis Computer, DNA Database Computer, and a Chemical Analysis Computer.  This is also a great leap forward from the equipment available in the previous Games of the Series.  And each of these have been modified and enhanced to give the player more interaction, and a feeling of actually doing the searches themselves.    I really like the way you get to drag and drop fingerprints over found prints; check video footage frame by frame till you zoom in on the incriminating shot; compare collected evidence against others, or against CSI evidence, or LVPD evidence or FBI evidence; even flip and rotate torn scraps of paper prior to assembling them on the table.  It is great! SF to the max!
  • There’s a pattern, a knack, to the way you move back and forth when comparing fingerprints etc.  You select Comparison A from Collected Evidence, then back to select Comparison B from Collected Evidence, Civil Records, LVPD Records, or FBI Records.  If available they will search and put up samples.  I always check the Collected Evidence first as there is a good chance the match may be there.  Then I move down the list.  To go back from an unsuccessful sample click Comparison B again, then for example Civil Records if that’s what you are checking, then the next sample on the list … and so on till you have checked all evidence available.
  • Tools appear automatically in the form of a Tool Box.  Initially your search is done using a large arrow cursor, which changes to a Green Arrow when it is over a Hotspot.  If you then click, you will zoom in, and the cursor will change to a Tool Box.  When you are over a piece of evidence it will also change to Green.  If clicked it will open out as a large long Tool Box of tools under the headings Detection and Collection.  Only those tools that are possible choices for the task will be available – first in the Detection and then in Collection, unless Collection is the only action required.
  • The Tools are: DETECTION – Flashlight,Luminol, Leuco Crystal Violet, Ninhydrin, Fingerprint Powder-Brush, Magnetic Powder, USB Data Drive, and UV Light;  COLLECTION – Tweezers, Swab, Mikrosil, Adhesive Lifter, Adhesive Specimen Mount, Casting Plaster, Camera, and Gloves.
  • The Game collects Fingerprints automatically if sprayed with Ninhydrin and Magetic powder, but you lift those from normal Fingerprint Dust yourself using the Adhesive Lifter.  The Camera takes photo automatically when you click on it.  But you do get to swab blood samples, including those from Luminol sprayed sites, from all locations except the Morgue (unless invited to by Robbins, who gives you the DNA and Fingerprint samples from the victim).
  • A mobile phone is used to pass messages to you from Brass or other Detectives in the Crime Office; and you can use the Mobile to ask Brass to send someone to the Interrogation Room for you by clicking on that location – instead of going back to Brass’ office then asking him.
  • In this Game you collect bugs for Grissom at each location in all Cases.  These help with your final rating.
  • The Game Autosaves at each screen change as you progress.  This ensures that the Game will begin exactly where you left off if you Quit during the Game.
  • The Right Click is used – with a visible mouse-hint – to back out of all locations and equipment.  This is great!!  It speeds up the Game, making visits to rooms and computers a breeze rather than a chore.  The FF of “Oh no not again!” is removed.  It cannot be used to fast forward through Dialogue, but the Space Bar can.  I caution to use that only when the character is driving you crazy or being too wordy and you already know the content.  this action can cause screen freezes – which you remedy by Ctrl Alt Del out of the Game and start again where you left off.
  • During the Game Questioning/Search Warrants Pop-Up Prompt appears clearly when they are available from Brass.  It is up to you whether you break off what you are doing or finish waht you are doing first.  You must go to Brass to ask for them though, or you will have a wasted trip to a location.
  • Green Tags appear on evidence and locations to let you know when they are clear or complete.  But this does not mean that you shouldn’t return to the locations if you are directed to do so for specific searches or to speak to their occupants.  Not doing so because they are green-tagged could cause an impasse – so if you get stuck, re-check ALL sites and evidence.
  • Graphics! I love the attention to details – panoramic views through windows and from external sites, long-distance landscapes that change as the panning occurs; colours, fabrics, furniture, accessories, fixtures, gardens, fencing, buildings external and internal – that lends authenticity to the locations.  The only oddity is the way the shrubs are depicted in a ‘cross’ of foliage panels, noticable as you pan around them.  But the overall effect if acceptable.  Of course the clarity is great, but this too is adjustable in Audio & Video under Options for personal preference.  The characters’ hair is much better in this Game and their torso moves and looks more natural.  And the lip-syncing is brilliantly done.  Not only the lips moving, but tongue movements inside the mouth can be seen – a great deal of effort involved in that piece of CG, and well worth it.  SF to the max!

The stories are longer, well thought out, more complex, and interesting.  The characters once again are believeable in their 3 dimensions – of personality, image, and voice.  As there should be, there are some you like, some you dislike, but all that you become involved with.  The Case pattern initiated in the original CSI Game, has altered somewhat.  In Case 5 this time, they have only brought forward characters from Case 3 – these two Cases are, by the way, my favourites in this Game.  I’m not totally sure why, but I like the way they tie together, and their complexity.

Case 1: BURNING FOR YOU

According to Grissom “Murder by immolation” occurs in the carpark outside a foundry yard, where a cabbie is found dead from a flash-fire in his taxi.  In the morgue, his tattoos show him to be a White Supremacist, and his record-check shows up DUIs and gay bashing charges.  Not a nice character, but his death must still be investigated.

Case 2: DOUBLE DOWN

A pregnant victim of an assault and battery is in hospital, and her apartment is a gory mess.  The ripple effect pulls in DNA from various sources, and leads to a surprising motive.

Case 3:  SHOCK ROCK

When the old rock band, ‘Bullet Train’, uses the Reality-show Competition format to find a new and young lead singer for their comeback tour, things go well until the dress rehearsal on the night before the winner is to be announced.  There is a multiple electrocution on stage in the Casino theatre, wiping out the band and one of the singers.  Has it been a tragic accident, or has someone tampered with the equipment?

Case 4:  IN YOUR EYES ONLY

A respected Indian surgeon has been brutally slain in his bed at home – the only witness being his blind wife.  In shock, having found her husband sticky and wet when she went upstairs, says she heard nothing.  After changing her clothes and cleaning the blood off herself, she called the police.  Cultural considerations play a part in this investigation.

Case 5:  THE PEACEMAKER

There’s been a Wild West shoot out at the Old West Tourist Museum gift shop.  A youth lies dead with bullets in his chest and shoulder, while another youth caught cleaning up the scene stands nearby confessing that he was the shooter.  But did he?  This involves a life-long feud between families – those from Case 3 – which takes some unravelling – and patience on the part of the investigator/player.

A mini-gripe!  I wish that the Bonus you earn, at the end of the Game, was an extra Case!  The still drawing are all very well, but another BONUS CASE would be heaps better!  Who agrees?

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

(C) Copyright  Jud House  19/05/2011

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