Point, click, repeat.
I have never seen CSI. I’ve watched CSI: Miami with middling interest, but I was fairly confident that the original series wouldn’t present much of a break from the formula. I figured my not being familiar with the cast and crew of CSI might hinder my experience with CSI: Hard Evidence, so I invited my friend Marcus over, because he's a fan of the show. I figured he’d be able to offer valuable information such as whether or not the in-game character models look like their real-world counterparts, or whether or not the actors from the show lent their voices to the game.
Ultimately, those questions proved unimportant. The mindless tedium of CSI: Hard Evidence awoke in me a nameless terror, even as Marcus seemed vaguely interested. Yet every time I tried to hand him the Wii Remote, he declined, telling me that it was more fun to watch me writhe in pain than himself partake. Before long, Marcus’ brother Nelson came over. After watching me point, click, and navigate menus for the next fifteen minutes, he remarked that he’s never felt such anger, such hostility, towards a game. I concurred, turned off the Wii, and heaved a sigh of heavy relief.
CSI: Hard Evidence is essentially a series of menus with the occasional point‘n’click environmental interface thrown in for good measure. You are thrust into the role of a rookie CSI officer, who oddly enough doesn’t have hands or arms. The only way your presence is even felt is through a disembodied and ever-changing icon which you move around the screen via the Wii Remote. When the icon turns green, click the A button to zoom in. Press A again to go to a menu, then press A to select an item, then press A to use the item, then…do you see where this is going?
You travel to different locations by selecting them from a menu. While on location, you can “interact” with things that make the cursor turn green. You can run evidence through computers via more menus, resulting in tedious “one of these things is not like the other” comparison tests. Then you press B to zoom back out. When you’ve acquired enough evidence against somebody you can bring them in for questioning, but this is not a deep questioning system a la Grim Fandango, Jade Empire, or Mass Effect. You can only ask one question at a time, and the person will always answer; it’s as if the suspect’s speech is continually being paused, and you have to press play over and over again. This is, in essence, just another form of menu navigation. After solving the case you are given a grade based on how much hand-holding you required (and unless you’re a retarded rhesus macaque, you won’t need any help).
According to Marcus, the character models are somewhat accurate, but they are low-grade PS2 quality. As evidenced by titles like God of War 2 and Tomb Raider: Anniversary, facial animation can look pretty good when a developer puts some effort into it. CSI: Hard Evidence gives us blocky faces and forced, exaggerated animations. On the other hand, the environments look much better. Characters are also voiced by their real-life counterparts, lending some credibility to the game.
There are five cases to solve, but it’s doubtful that most players will make it that far. Marcus didn’t think that the game tied into the show’s storyline in any meaningful way. I’d rather watch CSI: Miami and laugh at David Caruso’s overacting then be forced through more of this shovelware. If you want a good point‘n’click adventure, play Myst or Shivers.