Game: CSI: Miami
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: 369 Interactive
Year: 2004
Reviewed: 2007
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

CSI: Miami is the third of the CSI games, being a sequel that is also a game spin-off of the spin-off TV series. Confusing sounding, but what does this mean in real terms? Basically, it means you get CSI stories, but in a sunny setting and involving more women. The whole series seems to be the creation of someone who had the idea “Let’s make CSI, but with women in bikinis!” So now, Al Robbins, the coroner from the previous games, is replaced by Alexx Woods, a female coroner with too many Xs in her name, and Greg Sanders in the lab has a female Miami equivalent called Maxine Valera (with the right number of Xs in her name). Jim Brass is still firmly attached to his desk in Las Vegas, and the Miami crime lab have Yelina Salas, his larger chested equivalent. All of these do exactly the same job, and have no discernable personality within the game, meaning that it makes no real difference in terms of gameplay.

CSI Miami Crocodile Golf
The hazards on the golf course were getting a little too hazardous.

Dark Motives, the last CSI game, was an improvement over the first game and seemed to be on the way to making the series a worthwhile addition to the adventure genre. So how has CSI Miami improved on that? Well… it hasn’t. All the game mechanics are exactly the same. The previous game might have been a step in the right direction, but it still hadn’t gone far enough, so to find no changes here is a huge disappointment. There are some minor additions, they’re just not related to the core gameplay. A couple of times during the game you’ll find encrypted messages and have to break the code yourself. It’s just a simple substitution cipher, and you can even get hints to gradually reveal the letters if you can’t solve it yourself. The idea of decrypting messages is interesting and fits in with the theme of the game, but any criminal who thinks that the best way to encrypt a computer file is by a simple code that the average newspaper crossword doer could crack in 5 minutes doesn’t need an entire CSI unit on the case to catch. It might be interesting to investigate a crime where the criminal isn’t a complete moron occasionally. The other new addition is an even less fitting puzzle, involving piecing together pieces of torn up paper. In other words, you have to pause in the middle of a case to do a jigsaw puzzle. They’re fairly easy, so they’re not too much hassle, although on the other hand, that also makes them quite pointless.

Given that the gameplay hasn’t really moved on, the game really needs some interesting cases. It doesn’t have them though. Whereas the cases in Dark Motives usually started off with an investigation into a bizarre incident and moved on from there, Miami seems to almost entirely deal with fairly standard crimes that could have come straight out of a soap opera. The one place it does do well is in the final case. The previous games have usually included elements from earlier cases in the game, but Miami does this better than the others by bringing in suspects from all the earlier cases, linking them all together into one overarching plot. Unfortunately, even this isn’t especially memorable after the game is over.

CSI Miami Yelina Salas
Yelina Salas, the more mobile Miami version of Jim Brass.

Graphically, the game is about the same as last time; not bad, but nothing amazing either. The voice acting of the main CSI characters is fairly bland. I can’t comment on the TV series since I’ve never watched it, but I would hope the acting is better than this. The acting from the suspects and witnesses is nothing special either, and it doesn’t even seem particularly well recorded. One woman in particular has a voice that echoes as if she’s in a huge empty room, even when you’re talking to her outside. Unless the outdoors scenes were actually recreated in a Star Trek holodeck, this is just poorly done recording. Surely a game with a big name license like this can do better.

The extra that are unlocked at the end of each case are a bit more interesting now, since you get a couple of puzzles as well as the character and location sketches. But they’re still nothing spectacular, and a few pictures, a jigsaw and a cryptogram per case isn’t going to increase the quality of the main game. CSI: Miami actually feels like a step backwards from the previous game, with the less interesting cases, poor voice acting and complete lack of improvement to the gameplay. It’s entertaining enough to pass a few hours if you have nothing better to do, but there’s nothing to especially recommend it.

Save System Review: Autosaves like the other games. It seems to work fine, again.

Arbitrary Final Score:  2 stars

Does the sunny setting improve the series, or does the irritating main star make you want to commit murder yourself? Let us know in our forum!