Developer: Telltale Games
by: Sam "Samoza" Tyler
Too many aging celebrities are undertaking copious amounts of plastic surgery. The majority look no better for the procedures, but instead resemble people who have been part of an unfortunate accident that has removed all traces of character and life from their face. Imagine a game that contained only these faceless ghouls. Well imagine no more, as you can experience it all for real with the latest experiment from the CSI game lab, CSI: Fatal Conspiracy.
As an adventure game fan there are precious few chances for me to indulge in the genre on consoles. Therefore, a game like CSI: Fatal Conspiracy will always intrigue me. Having played all previous CSI games released on the 360, I have become accustomed to the quality Telltale Games provides. As such, my levels of excitement for the newest game in the series were at an all time low. What separates the latest game in the series from the others is the new feature of stringing all 5 cases together under one über case – can you bring down the leader of a dangerous drug cartel?
Apart from an arc based storyline, Fatal Conspiracy feels almost identical to the last game in the series as it reuses (too) many of the same tools, work locations and character models. You play a new CSI agent (they still don’t recognise me although I have popped up 4 years in a row) who must investigate and solve 5 seemingly separate cases. You are given a crime scene and a set of tools including exciting devices such as the mighty tweezers and the all powerful infrared torch. With evidence in hand you must also use the various laboratory tools, such as the mesmerising fingerprint machine and the awe inspiring microscope, to gather further proof to prosecute the suspect.
Many elements of the previous paragraph were swarming with good old fashioned British sarcasm as CSI: Fatal Conspiracy is pretty naff. Graphically, the game is at least 5 years out of date, the voice acting is mostly done by CSI (wannabe) impressionists, and the controls feel clunky on a controller (perhaps the next game could use Kinect?) For those gamers with a short attention span and little time for mediocrity, they should give this game a miss.
However… there is something in this game for fans of old school adventure games like Monkey Islands. To be fair CSI lacks the great sense of humor in these games, but the actual cases themselves prove to be a fun set of puzzles. For somebody who enjoys methodically looking for evidence and using it to prove a case the game proves a decent challenge. A good comparison to how the story pans out is Phoenix Wright, but with less spiky hair and fewer Objections! I’ll be the first to admit that the game is pretty awful in most areas, but I still enjoyed playing it and bringing the murderers to book. The voice acting of the suspects is better than in previous games and the puzzles themselves do become increasingly challenging as the game goes on. Any level of gamer should be able to muddle their way through the game, but to get the highest scores you have to be professional and cover every angle.
For all its many faults, the basic job that CSI: Fatal Conspiracy sets out to do is entertain and it did just this. It may be creaky and scary to look at, but there is enough fun to be had to give it a Bronze Billy.