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CSI: Fatal Conspiracy


Similar to video game with movie tie-ins, the television to video game transition is also a flawed, rushed process most of the time. Itís rare to see a popular television show get turned into a quality game. CSI themed games in the past have struggled to achieve any level of notoriety, especially compared to the rampant popularity of the television show and the spinoffs that the Vegas original inspired. That being said, forensic investigation as a component of gameplay is often a welcome event, especially in games like Condemned. However, CSI: Fatal Conspiracy from Telltale games plays nearly identical to a typical episode of the show. The narrative spreads over five cases with a ďmulti-episodeĒ story arc presiding over all the cases. Itís a cute, inventive way to keep you playing, but the structure of the gameplay definitely tries to push you away.

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You are basically transported to each crime scene on a case and are tasked with looking around the environment to find clues before proceeding. With in the controller, you move a cursor around the screen and wait for it to highlight a place to use a forensic device. Oddly, you have to find clues in a predetermined order, thus your brain really isnít needed to look for anything odd on the screen. You also canít leave the crime scene until every clue is located, thus thereís really no way to fail. After scrounging around the crime scene, you are sent back to the lab for evidence processing. Evidence processing is a series of mini-games that require matching patterns. Once again, these are impossible to fail as any mini-game can be restarted without failing the entire case. After processing, you get to interrogate the suspects regarding the case and use the evidence you collected to catch them in a lie. These lies are incredibly easy to pick out and thereís really no challenge to interrogations. You are rewarded points for providing more substantial evidence during the case, but thatís a terrible motivation tool when thereís almost no chance of failing.

The pacing is also butchered because this was a game designed for PCs, not consoles. It takes forever to move the cursor around the screen during the investigation. Frankly, Iím surprised that Telltale didnít want to include Playstation Move support for this game as itís definitely perfect for it. Pointing the controller at the screen would have been much faster than moving the cursor with the D-pad. The game may have sold much better as well, if it was billed as a Move Launch title.

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There are no multiplayer modes with the game and the entire affair takes about 5 hours to complete if you have any familiarity with the show at all. There are a variety of Playstation trophies to earn in the game and the majority of them are each to achieve. The majority of them are related to completing the cases, finishing with high cunning or thoroughness point totals as well as completing specific tasks during each case. You can actually spoil some portions of the cases by reading the trophy descriptions in advance (just a warning). Itís an extremely easy set to complete though.

Graphics

Wow, this is an unintentionally creepy game due to the hollow facial expressions and the general lack of animation. The actors look strange, likely due to the poor quality of the port. Interestingly, the visuals, while in HD, lack the quality seen in previous Telltale releases. There are a variety of framerate issues that pop up any time thereís motion on the screen as well. Telltale did a terrible job of porting this game to the PS3, especially when it looks like it could be on the last generation of consoles.

Audio

All the voice actors from the show took part in recording the lines for the video game, but their performances are definitely wooden and stale. Itís a heck of a place to spend all your development money, especially when the rest of the game pretty much stinks. It also may be a stitched together nature of the dialog thatís partly to blame for the lack of flow in conversations. Several of the lines get repetitive as well as the game wears on. The rest of the audio work is reminiscent of the show, yet nothing really stands out during forensic work or interrogation.

Conclusion

Iím usually a fan of Telltale Games, but this PC port is nothing but shoddy work and a poor source of entertainment to boot. Some of the main issues plaguing CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is boring, undeveloped gameplay, an abysmal graphical quality, poor control scheme and a moronically simple difficulty level. Only the narrative is the redeeming factor of the game and it suffers from vapid voice acting. Even the most ardent CSI fan isnít going to find enjoyment out of laboring over forensics in this poor excuse for a video game. Avoid Fatal Conspiracy at all costs this holiday season. If you are hard up for some CSI, Iím sure CBS might have a few more spinoffs for you to watch.



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