Crime Scene Video Game Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, March 29, 2010
Those who have played the various CSI games on the Nintendo DS or the Wii will be familiar with the basic operations in Crime Scene, a new game for the DS by South Peak Games. Developed by White Birds Productions, Crime Scene is a mature-themed, point and click adventure that puts you into the shoes of Matt Simmons, a rookie crime scene investigator
Your first case opens with an apparent murder suicide. As in all games of this type, Matt has a full arsenal on investigation tools at his disposal including various swabs for collection DNA samples, brushes and transparent tape for dusting and collection fingerprints, scalpels, tweezers, UV Light and UV spray, etc…Back at the office you have the full facilities of the crime lab available for analyzing your collected evidence. You have DNA sequence analyzers, fingerprint databases, ballistics tests, etc…The game goes about this with a series of mini-games where the player has to perform a variety of actions with the stylus or blowing into the DS mic at the right time for a successful test. Fail your test and it will lower your detective score or bar; more about the bar in a moment.
But it’s not all about collecting and analyzing evidence. You’ll need to interview the various suspects and persons of interest. You’ll need to take mini case review quizzes in order to obtain search warrants and arrest warrants. Your character is one of the better aspects of the game. He’s a personable guy as is his partner Peter Wayne and that lends to the feeling bonding you have. Unfortunately all is not so rosy with the rest of the department. Adding to the story elements is that Matt will have to put up with department corruption as he goes about his investigations. This provides Crime Scene with a unique element apart from others of its ilk, but at the same time you begin to question the motives of those involved, as it seems to add little more than hindering your work.
I mentioned the detective bar earlier. Successfully gathering and testing evidence and completing the mini case reviews will raise the meter while failure will lower it and herein lies the biggest problem with Crime Scene…its frustrating controls. Now sure a real CSI tech has to know how to lay tape down just right to lift fingerprints but I cannot imagine it is as difficult in real life as it is in this game. This same annoyance applies to just about all the other evidence gathering such as trying to use the scalpel to cut something or the tweezers to pickup a small fragment. You’ll find yourself having to repeat the actions over and over again and with each failure, your bar goes down. Once it’s depleted you’re fired! This is a process that is repeated over and over during the game but as much as you try, success or failure often seems completely arbitrary so practice definitely doesn’t make perfect.
Graphically the game is perhaps a bit too cartoonish for its subject matter. It’s hard to be a gritty crime drama when a lot of the characters look like they are out of an old 8-bit game. The crime scenes and environments fare better in this area, however, displaying a greater sense of realism and providing the player with a lot of places to visit and investigate. The audio is nominal. There’s a couple of different soundtracks that play throughout that add nothing but don’t distract either. Not much in the way of sounds but this isn’t the type of game that lends itself to extensive sounds and music anyway.
Crime Scene has its strong points in terms of characters and overall story and a lot of things to do, but it is ultimately done in by poor and repetitive controls.
Mania Grade: C
Maniac Grade: B
Video Game: Crime Scene
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: South Peak Games