The crime scene moves to the living room with “CSI: Hard Evidence,” the fifth in Ubisoft’s succesful series of games based on the hit CBS crime drama, and the first available on consoles as well as the PC. This first-person procedural should appeal to fans of the show — including, perhaps, women who don’t typically play vidgames — but simply isn’t challenging enough to merit attention from a broader audience.
Those unfamiliar with the crime drama shouldn’t expect an introduction — this game was made with “CSI” aficionados in mind.
“Hard Evidence,” which is already available for PC and Xbox 360 and comes out for Wii in November, is played from an anonymous first-person perspective as players partner up with main characters from the show for each case. Las Vegas CSI unit supervisor Gil Grissom hands out assignments and awards points after each case.
Most of the actors from the show, from William Peterson on down, are on hand, and do solid voice work. However, Ubisoft was able to secure only the male voices from the series. Soundalikes provide the voices for Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), though they do such a good job that only those who look at the credits may notice.
Storylines and scenery are strong points. Each case has a compelling premise as the player attempts to solve the murder. Intermittent cut-scenes play out possible scenarios of how the crime might have occurred, as well as showing how the wounds look from inside the body at impact. A colorful assortment of Sin City suspects populate realistically rendered settings. From the mobile crime lab to the miniature golf course there is plenty to explore in the richly hued Vegas locations, as developed by Telltale, the company behind the promising rebirth of the “Sam & Max” franchise.
But even without using the in-game hints that are offered throughout, “CSI: Hard Evidence” lacks the level of challenge to match the interesting cases. It’s always fairly easy to figure out where to look for the next fingerprint or fiber, and when to go to captain Brass’ office for a search warrant. It’s difficult to feel a sense of accomplishment after solving a crime, given that it’s impossible to make mistakes that might compromise the investigation, such as accidentally smudging fingerprints or mishandling an interrogation.
Haunting musical score enhances the crime-solving experience, although at times, the background soundtrack drowns out the voiceovers.