Jud’s Game Rating:
Graphics: *** Player participation (PP) **** Satisfaction Factor (SF) ****
As with CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, 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.
Once again it is advisable to install this Game – and download its specific patch from ubisoft+csi+patch – on a PC using Microsoft Windows XP Pro Service Pack 3, DirectX 9, and most importantly QuickTime 6. It will play on a slightly higher power and screen resolution, but it plays best with those program parameters.
The Patch is vital, as without it Cases 2 – 5 will have all questions written in French. The spoken answers will be in English, but if you do not understand French you will not know what you are asking the suspect. So download the Patch as soon as you have installed the Game.
If you look at my previous article – Problems and Solutions – you will see the reasons why this QuickTime level is so important. If you run the game on a computer of this level then you will experience no problems with the game – it will open and play properly. However, Windows 7 can reset the settings for this game – go in through Troubleshooting, and follow the prompts under resetting older versions. For more details of this process, check the above Problems and Solutions blog. This may work – it did for me – but if not, other solutions are on that blog for you to try.
The computer parameters for this game are listed on the Game box as usual.
Unlike the previous Game (CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION), CSI: MIAMI requires the discs in the computer in order to play – despite being fully installed. Use Disc 1 until the computer prompts you to change to Disc 2.
The Graphics for all 5 Cases of this Game are slightly improved from the previous game – on the whole the location graphics are great with occasional stylisation problems, and the character graphics are fine apart from the hair on some of them. For clearer graphics set the Graphics Quality in Audio and Video in Options to Direct X, for a softer effect set it on Open GL.
Under Control Panel there is a Load Case tab, an Options tab and a Statistics tab. Under the Options tab there are: DIFFICULTY SETTINGS requiring Yes/No ticks for your personal choice (which can be changed each time you replay the game or at any time during gameplay); AUDIO & VIDEO including Graphic Quality, 3D Renderer (such as Direct X, Open GL, and Software), Dialogue, Music, SoundEffects, and Subtitles; PERFORMANCE SETTINGS including High Quality Animation, Visual Effects, Frequent Auto Save, H Q Sound Mixing, and Maximum Memory Usage – all Yes/No ticks required.
Once again the comprehensive Tutorial is both helpful for first-timers – I recommend all new players to go through the motions with the Tutorial as it is very informative – and annoying for those replaying the game. Luckily, on this game pressing the Space bar or Right clicking will skip the sentence/hint, though you still have to carry out the required action to continue through to the part where you carry on on your own. It effectively makes the intrusive voice of the prompt ‘shut up!’ so you don’t have to sit there telling her to do so.
Although you can turn the Dialogue off in the SETTINGS, you can also use this Space Bar pressing or Right clicking to fast track your way through the dialogue if you can read faster than the characters can speak not hard as some of them drawl. Mind you first time players will enjoy the dialogue, as will most players. It’s just if you want to get through the Case faster for any reason – and rechecking them for reviewing them is a good reason – you can at least carry on through the Case, still gathering and processing evidence, following the clues etc, without the delay caused by long-winded characters.
On the whole the Character Dialogue both written and spoken are well suited to their characters, adding to their authenticity, and to theSatisfaction Factor. In some areas the lip-syncing is not quite lined-up, but is acceptable and not enough to annoy.
However you cannot use the Right click to back out of screens on the Crime Lab computer and equipment – you have to click on the exit/back-out box indicated.
The Locations Tab reveals CRIME SCENE and miscellaneous additional locations as the Case progresses; MORGUE (Alexx Woods); CRIME DESK(Yelina Salas); and CRIME LABORATORY (Valera).
The Crime Lab equipment consists of a COMPUTER- Fingerprints, ShoePrints, Audio/Video, DNA, SearchLinks/Special (includes codes and chemical); an ASSEMBLY TABLE- putting torn photos and documents together, broken glass etc; and a MICROSCOPE – comparing bullets, fragments of materials of all kinds etc.
Tools are hi-lighted with a ‘halo‘ that shows up when the tool is held over a ‘hot spot’ which is a great help when searching for evidence. It helps the player not to miss anything. Mind you many of the hot spots still shows up after the evidence has been collected, which can lead to a degree of time-wasting. But then again when you reach an impasse in the Case you may find that it facilitates a speedier search for the one piece of evidence that you must have missed.
Tools available in this Game are: DETECTION – Ninhydrin paper surfaces, FingerPrint Powder smooth surfaces, Magnetic Powder rough surfaces, Brush remove dirt, UV (UltraViolet) light, FLashlight, Magnifying Scope, and Luminol. COLLECTION – Glove, Tweezers, Swab, Mikrosil, Electrostat Dust Print Lifter, Casting Frame and Plaster, Adhesive Lifter, and Adhesive Specimen Mount. A few items from the original CSI Game are no longer there but a few new ones have taken their place.
Photos of the Crime Scene and specific evidence (eg DNA) are automatically taken for you after a prompt from your colleague.
Similarly, the little red tags on the already processed and completed evidence, as well as completed locations, also helps the player to know when all is done. But sometimes there may be more dialogue to be had at the locations, even though all evidence there has been found. So always check them if you are stuck, as there might be one more question to be asked and answered to trigger the next step in the Case.
The Tools halo/hot spot setting is in the fairly extensive OPTIONS menu, and as you replay the Cases you can adjust the settings to suit yourself, from Beginner through to Expert.
In this Game, after double-clicking on an evidence item to open its popup window for closer inspection, you can then click on Tools, select the appropriate tool to locate trace evidence – eg. print dust or magnifying glass – then use a collection tool on it. As this window only shows a 2D image of the evidence you can only collect ‘trace’ from the side and angle shown. You will hear a little drum-beat (or possibly heartbeat) as a successful collection is made. This allows a much more hands-on experience for the player, but of course adds another area of the Game that needs double checking if the Case stalls.
- At the Crime Lab, evidence is still given to the Lab Tech, Valera – clicked and dragged over her – and she sends it to the computer, microscope or assembly table according to requirements. Even if the item is obviously self-explanatory, still drag it over Valera so she makes a statement as it will trigger the Red Tag on the piece of evidence. Left undone this could stall your gameplay further along.
- CHECK, CHECK, AND THRICE CHECK! It is necessary to check ALL samples of DNA, finger prints, shoe and tyre prints against those that the computer selects for you – even if you find the Match second sample in. Test them all, then go back and pick up the Match then click on Compare. This is just in case the glitch that was in the original version hasn’t been Patched out. Otherwise you will have to redo ALL of them later when you are well and truly stuck! It will save you from having to toss the computer into the garden Koi pond! (I did manage to play it through skipping this complete-sample-checking this last time, and it carried right through to the end okay.)
- The search engine graphics for the DNA and documents are great – eg the search window while scanning shows a scrolling DNA chain for DNA , or scrolling random text for documents. A nice touch.
- The use of Crytograms to be solved when doing a document search is fun, and a surprising element. Of course if you are impatient to get through to the solution you may find it annoying as it must be solved to move on. Relax and enjoy – they are in several of the Cases.
- I like this Microscope format – the magnification is set automatically, and when you search for samples to compare with evidence you get 5 choices, and you can also check evidence to evidence for a match when found.
- The Observational Challenge of 5 questions per Case at the end of each Case is fun. Or annoying if you haven’t been paying attention! It’s surprising what you do remember from a location or piece of dialogue or evidence – also what you absolutely draw a blank on.
Once again the M RATED storylines/narratives for these games are interesting, with believeable characters, a variety of locations, and enough intrigue to keep you playing. The player can relate to some of the characters and positively dislike others, which is as it should be. As the narratives are longer than those in the first Game in the Series, they are therefore more complex, and more gameplay is required – far more satisfying.
Case 1: LATER, GATOR
This Case crime scene involves a dead alligator beside a regurgitated severed human arm in a sand trap of a Miami Golf Course. To begin to identify the owner of the arm you must be prepared to locate, collect and examine the creature’s stomach contents and disgorged entrails. Characters are introduced here who will return in the final 5th Case.
Case 2: CRACK OR JACK
A Night Club owner lies dead on the dance floor, with his head battered. Beside him is a smashed spotlight which appears to have fallen from above. Was it an accident, or is it murder staged as an accident?! More characters from this Case will reappear in Case 5.
Case 3: THE HATE BOAT
A luxury boat is found adrift with only the body of a naked woman aboard. She is lying on red satin sheets with a bullet wound to her temple, and ligature marks around her wrists and throat. It looks like a pleasure cruise of the S & M kind gone wrong. This Case involves searching underwater which is great, with good audio and graphics for this and all other locations. Once again characters will feature in Case 5.
Case 4: SUNSTROKE
A wealthy retired businessman lies dead, slowly sunburning, on a sunlounge on his private beach with his beloved dog dead beside him. There are a number of well-designed locations and believeable characters involved.
Case 5: FINAL JUDGEMENT
Judge Lawson is discovered slumped on his desk in his study with a bullet wound to the temple. Is it suicide, murder or something in between or both? As the Judge from Case 1, he gradually draws all the criminals from the first 4 Cases into this final Case about his death. This Case is very involved with multiple locations – some new and one from each of the previous Cases – leading to a well-devised ending.
There are a couple of frustrating spots in this Case. One is in the Judge’s study when searching for initial evidence. When searching the bar area, use a tool over the entire location on the screen – it will hi-light the floor area behind the bar – you will need the torch to show the evidence there to collect.
Also this Final Case involves much ducking back and forth gathering verbal evidence from the suspects – those already prisoners, those in interrogation rooms and those still at locations outside – which is a little tedious for tiny snippets that oh so slowly move the story forward. That is when the Right Click helps a bit as you very quickly get sick of Yelina’s comments each time you want to move from one suspect to the other.
But there is an over-riding sense of getting somewhere as you do it, which ultimately results in the Satisfaction Factor.
For Walkthroughs of this Game go to UHS Hints at: www.uhs-hints.com/
(C) Copyright Jud House 1/05/2011
* * * * *