|System: X360, Wii, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
If you've managed to put down your gamepads long enough to pick up your TV remotes any time in the last several years, then you've probably channel surfed into CBS' procedural crime drama juggernaut CSI.
With three separate versions--the original Vegas-set entry, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY--populating the prime time and syndication landscape, you'd be hard-pressed not to stumble across the crime scene investigating crew picking and poking at a fresh corpse. Now, with CSI: Hard Evidence landing on the Wii, players can get in on the morbid, murder victim-prodding fun. Like PC adventure games of old, Hard Evidence is a pick-up-and-play, point-and-click affair. But instead of mouse-clicking your way through the crime scenes, you'll wave your Wii-mote and press its buttons to solve its cases; you can even give the Nunchuk attachment the day off for this super-accessible control scheme.
Despite its no-brainer controls, Hard Evidence does offer a fair amount of challenge in the form of hard-to-crack cases; in five separate episodes, couch-sitting CSIs will be required to uncover the clues behind a variety of grisly murders. As a new recruit with LVPD's CSI unit, you'll quickly meet Gil Grissom--complete with actor William Petersen's likeness and voice--before partnering with Nick Stokes for your first case. Faithfully sticking to CSI's Vegas-underbelly presentation, the crime scenes are gritty, blood-stained areas; this ain't the MGM Grand Resort and Casino--we're talking trashy bars and low-lit back alleys that you wouldn't want to visit on your day off. That's not to say you won't get a feel for the Vegas spectacle: some quick video cuts, playing between cases, immerse you in the glitz with overhead pans of the Vegas strip. Most of your time, however, will be spent looking for the who, what, when, and where at the seedy scene of the crime. The very first case, for example, finds you in a back alley peering into a taxi cab whose driver has been barbecued by a flash-fire. By moving the Wii-mote around, you'll uncover specific spots that deserve a closer look; place the cursor over something interesting, like say a partially hidden gas can, and the cursor turns green, indicating you should dig a bit deeper. We won't spoil the fun for you, but doing so might uncover fingerprints, traces of a foreign liquid or, perhaps, a blood smudge. As you progress through the cases, more and more of these layered clues will test your wits and, sometimes, your stomach. Footprints, tire tracks and, ick, even discarded condoms will demand your crime-solving skills
Inspecting the various clue-carrying items involves utilizing the full spectrum of CSI tools; collection tools--swabs, gloves, tweezers etc.--will do the dirtier work, while detection devices--an ultraviolet light, magnetic powder and a data drive--will aid in the less nitty gritty, but equally important, analyzing and examining. Again, all this is done with super-simple controls; click while the cursor is represented by a small aerosol can, and it'll spray its fingerprint-revealing chemical. Similarly, if you're picking something up with the latex gloves, the cursor will turn into a hand while making a quick grabbing motion. Much of the clue collecting and examining can be done at the crime scene, but you'll also need to visit various other locations to blow the case wide open; visit the morgue to get a closer look at a white supremacist's nasty tattoos, head to the garage to fingerprint an impounded vehicle, or hunker down for a long night in the lab to use the tech toys--microscopes, databases, DNA analyzers etc. A PDA, which also tracks case data, will transport you to the various locations. Gather enough case-cracking info, and you can even head to Brass' office to obtain the necessary warrants and such.