CSI: Fatal Conspiracy review

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy
The Good:
  • Sleek crime reconstructions
  • Quality voice acting from the show’s actors
  • Welcome attempt to establish an over-arching storyline throughout
The Bad:
  • Boring cases with too few locations and suspects
  • Dull, oversimplified and repetitive gameplay
  • Substandard character art
  • Larger storyline feels forced and is completely telegraphed early on
Our Verdict: The cases in CSI: Fatal Conspiracy are indeed deadly – deadly boring, that is. Recommended only for those who love the show or still haven’t had enough of playing drag-and-drop with fingerprint fragments.

The heady cocktail of bright lights and easy money in Sin City has never made life easy for the team of the Las Vegas Crime Lab. But the latest series of murders to rock their town isn’t run-of-the-mill crime; most are the handiwork of the notorious ‘Queen of the Hive’, as drug mafia boss Beatriz Salazar is willing to stop at nothing to protect her illegal empire. The introduction of big game naturally means that the FBI too is involved, standing literally over the shoulder of Captain Jim Brass as he and the CSI team race to keep up with the brutal manipulations of Salazar. Unfortunately, for all the added promise of intrigue, Fatal Conspiracy, the sixth PC adventure based on the long-running CSI television series, ends up offering little more than the same repetitive procedural analysis whipped to death by its predecessors, this time in a disappointing series of uninteresting cases.

Any suspense the premise might have generated is spoiled by information overload even before the game starts – the box cover divulges the entire plot in one short sentence. Then, to ensure that no trace of grand scale mystery is left to be discovered, Salazar herself makes an uninvited appearance at the CSI headquarters in the very first case, sneering poorly-veiled threats at the confused duo of Brass and CSI Sarah Sidle. After that, seemingly unrelated murders pile up, leading to about eight hours of pixel-hunting across woefully-few locations, stilted interrogations of the two or three usual suspects per case, unchallenging minigames, and dealing with the shenanigans of FBI Agent Gene Huntby.

As usual, there are five cases to solve, each with a separate member of the CSI team led by Catherine Willows, the Night Shift Supervisor. The investigations are aided by Brass, who coordinates with external agencies and gets the requisite warrants issued, and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Al Robbins, who conducts autopsies on the dead bodies. Besides Sarah, the player teams up in turn with senior CSIs Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Catherine, and Dr. Ray Langston to solve the individual cases, thereby leading to the Queen Bee herself. The objective of each case, which range from a seemingly casual drug overdose to the murder of a bedridden hotel heiress, is to search the crime scene and related locations for clues, analyse evidence in the CSI’s state-of-the-art lab, investigate and arrest suspects, and interrogate them until they confess their crimes. Interrogations are based mainly on the irrefutability of physical evidence, and loose ends are tied up neatly – if overly simplistically – to close each case.

Onsite investigation follows the same routine as previous editions: pan the camera across the screen and click on hotspots to check furniture, floors, ceilings and walls for evidence. The CSI toolbox has four sets of instruments – besides the camera, a particle collector and the indispensible Integriswab, the kit also has Luminol and LCV for fluid identification, brushes and Ninhydrin to secure fingerprints, and Mikrosyl and plaster for casts. While descriptions of the tools are flashed randomly on load screens, their use is never directly explained during the game, an oversight that is certain to pose problems for players unfamiliar with the series. Rolling the cursor over an evidence hotspot opens up the toolbox, but only a small subset of tools is usable on a particular item, leaving little to deduce – the player simply has to click the likeliest preselected tool, and then the hotspot. Each item collected can be rotated three-dimensionally and checked from every side and angle for clues. Completely processed items are theoretically noted in inventory, though many items remain unmarked until the end of the case, leading to confusion.

The collected evidence – up to 33 items per case – is listed in a PDA placed at the bottom left corner of the screen. This device also contains the case file and a list of available locations. The case file holds the immediate objective, the details of the case (including a crime scene map marking the positions of evidence items), reconstructions of key events and emailed hints, as well as the player’s score on thoroughness, skill and cunning. The objective is updated with every breakthrough in the case, and there are far too many direct instructions given during the game, the most intrusive of which are your emails, usually from Catherine. There is no deducible pattern to the emails – sometimes they arrive after the task is done, sometimes right on time, and at other times preempt the player’s next move. There are fewer emails offering hints on the hardest of three difficulty settings, but even on the ‘medium’ setting they definitely dilute the gameplay.

Processing the collected evidence is the primary activity of the game. The CSI lab is well-equipped to analyse fingerprints, chemicals, DNA, documents, microscopic objects and photographs. Evidence can be compared with databases or to other evidence. Some of the exercises are interesting in concept – for example, unverified fingerprint fragments have to be marked on five unique points to match existing records, while chemical analysis throws up multiple spectrometric bands that must be combined to identify the compounds in a sample. Unfortunately, constantly repeating the same easy tasks soon grates on the nerves out of sheer tedium. Some analyses involve no activity at all: decoding computers, medical data and videos requires no more effort than selecting the evidence and then clicking the ‘Search’ button, while a few items are processed entirely by external agencies.

Continued on the next page...


What our readers think of CSI: Fatal Conspiracy

No reader reviews yet... Why don't you share your review?

review

Adventure games by Telltale Games

Walking Dead (Series)

Walking Dead (Series) 2018

Clementine, now a fierce and capable survivor, has reached the final chapter in her journey.

» View all games in this series
Batman (Series)

Batman (Series) 2018

What would you choose: a friend whose unhinged approach to justice turns your allies against you, or a sworn enemy who will stop at nothing to see you suffer as your city burns? Based on the relationship you’ve built with John Doe, you’ll see one of two very different stories play out.

» View all games in this series
Minecraft (Series)

Minecraft (Series) 2017

The home Jesse left so long ago, Beacontown, has succumbed to the iron rule of the Admin.

» View all games in this series
Guardians of the Galaxy (Series)

Guardians of the Galaxy (Series) 2017

As the galaxy is threatened once again and the stakes grow ever more personal, Peter must rally the Guardians against their greatest challenge yet: themselves.

» View all games in this series
Tales from the Borderlands (Series)

Tales from the Borderlands (Series) 2015

Rhys, a Hyperion ‘suit’ with dreams of being the next Handsome Jack, and Fiona, a Pandoran con artist looking to score her biggest ever swindle, are thrown together as unwilling partners in an adventure to recover cash they both think is theirs.

» View all games in this series
Game of Thrones (Series)

Game of Thrones (Series) 2015

Based on the acclaimed television drama, the six-part episodic series from Telltale Games tells the story of House Forrester.

» View all games in this series
The Wolf Among Us (Series)

The Wolf Among Us (Series) 2014

Bigby Wolf, a man once more infamously known as The Big Bad Wolf, is now the sheriff of a hidden community in New York City.

» View all games in this series
Law & Order (Series)

Law & Order (Series) 2011

Starring a cross-series dream team of Law & Order characters past and present, players will take on the roles of both investigator and district attorney as they hit the streets to gather evidence and then enter the court room to prosecute the case.

» View all games in this series
Puzzle Agent (Series)

Puzzle Agent (Series) 2011

Continuing the story begun with the mysterious closure of an eraser factory in Scoggins, Minnesota, ace puzzle investigators return once again to the snowy midwest to help Nelson Tethers finally solve the mystery haunting the realm.

» View all games in this series
Back to the Future (Series)

Back to the Future (Series) 2011

Picking up a few months after the third movie left off, Marty learns that Doc is in trouble and only he can save him, with a little help from the time-travelling DeLorean.

» View all games in this series
Jurassic Park (Series)

Jurassic Park (Series) 2011

The game returns to Isla Nublar during the events of the first movie, with familiar locations and creatures to encounter, plus new areas to explore and new prehistoric beasts to survive in a game that combines fast-paced action, exploration and puzzle-solving.

» View all games in this series
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Series)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Series) 2010

In five connected cases, team up with the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, along with help from FBI agent Gene Huntby, not only to solve some of the most gruesome crimes of Sin City, but also to take down a dangerous drug cartel.

» View all games in this series
Sam & Max (Series)

Sam & Max (Series) 2010

In the finale episode of the season, an enormous, scaly, floppy-eared creature has put the city on high alert, and Sam assembles a crack team to stop him.

» View all games in this series
Monkey Island (Series)

Monkey Island (Series) 2009

The saga begins with a heated battle involving the brave but often bumbling Mighty Pirate Guybrush, his beloved wife Elaine, and their nemesis, the demon pirate LeChuck.

» View all games in this series