by Marcus Mulkins
previewed on PC
Two steps forward, one step back
I don't watch all that much TV these days. But it seems that most of what I watch are the criminal investigation shows. The entire gamut of "Law & Order" shows can keep me glued to the screen. "NCIS" I find frequently intriguing. And, of course, "CSI" is a must-see. However, there was something about the "CSI" spin-offs that I found DISengaging. Whereas Grissom in "CSI" came across as a charming teddy bear/doofus/geek that always seems to come up with the hard answers, the leads in the other shows have elements in their behaviour that put me off.
In "CSI: Miami", Richard Caruso as Horatio Caine seems to spend all his time setting up scenes where he can strike a melodramatic pose and utter some portentous remark, usually something with a double meaning. I swear, it almost feels like they're running some sub-sonic music meant to run chills up your spine whenever he does that. And he does it so often, it becomes tedious. If it wasn't for the eye candy named Calleigh Duquesne (played by Emily Proctor), I would have given up on the show early on.
With the other spinoff, "CSI: NY", I couldn't make it through the first show. There's something about Gary Sinise as Detective Mac Taylor that hits me like fingernails on a chalkboard. It seems like he never quite got over a case of tetanus (a.k.a., lockjaw). I'm sure the cases on the show are just as engaging as the other two programs, but I just can't get past that knee-jerk reaction every time Gary Sinise (doesn't) open his mouth.
So, here we are in Gameworld, where all your favorite TV shows appear as computer games... eventually. We've already seen CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Dark Motives, CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder, CSI: Hard Evidence, and CSI: Miami. All of these followed the basic pattern of having the player act as a rookie to the CSI team. He would work his way through four cases, assisting one or two of the CSI regulars, and then a fifth case that tied the other four cases together. The PS2 version of CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder had a sixth case, but that one is from CSI: Hard Evidence, so I'm not inclined to count it. Reviews of all of these seem to run the gamut from "Ho hum" to "Okay".
Now we are on the verge of seeing CSI: NY. Publisher Ubisoft has had 369 Interactive develop the first two titles, then went with Telltale Games to take a stab at the last three. Realizing that they need to do something to breathe some life into the franchise, they decided to toss the development to Legacy Interactive, developers of the Law & Order franchise. If you've played Law & Order: Dead on the Money, Double or Nothing, Justice is Served, or Criminal Intent you would see certain similarities. The main similarity is that the player is always cast as an assistant to one of the show's main characters. The other similarity is that the games generally get rated anywhere between "Ho hum" and "Okay".