PS3 Review – CSI: Fatal Conspiracy

Every once in a while, we’ll see a popular TV series make its way from the airwaves onto our gaming consoles. CSI’s franchise is no stranger to that trend, as Fatal Conspiracy is now their ninth in the series since 2003. We get a chance to don our sleuth cap and peer at CSI: Fatal Conspiracy through our microscope. Read on to find out if this crime-solving adventure grips you with its twisted tales or if it’s just fatal enough for you to avoid.

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy takes you through a crime-ridden story in the city of sin, Las Vegas. The game is divided up into five separate chapters. In each of its chapters, you’ll be side-saddling with the characters from the TV show as you’ll work together to uncover the truths from each crime scene. Solving each chapter will require you to search the scene, analyze evidence and interrogate suspects – and that pretty much sums up the gameplay elements that you’ll encounter throughout Fatal Conspiracy.

Each chapter will thrust you into the aftermath of a crime scene, which always has a murder victim sprawled out in each setting. While at the scene, you’ll need to search for evidence to begin your investigation. The mechanics used for sniffing out clues are very simplistic and lack any real depth or gameplay. Essentially what you wind up with is a static environment that doesn’t allow any real interactions. You simply move a cursor over objects in the scene and wait for the icon to change from a crosshair to a toolkit icon, which indicates that this object is what you’re looking for. Missing any evidence or making mistakes is impossible as you can’t progress the storyline if you haven’t completed scrounging the site for key components. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary items for analysis, you’ll need to head on over to the lab for some forensics.

Processing evidence is equally shallow. Granted, you’ll have a lot more tools at your disposal to make it seem like a decent work load for your forensic duties, but there is no depth to this either. You’ll have different stations to work at, from matching fingerprints, DNA comparisons and some video analysis to name a few. However, each different task is simply a match-making mini-game where you compare one item to another to show that the two are related. Mistakes can be made and are quite forgiveable as you can reset the mini-game and start from the beginning, but there is no penalty or even a chance for failure. Again, you would have to intentionally screw this one up, as the mini-games are simple in nature: matching colored dots for DNA, matching lines for chemical analysis, matching quadrants for fingerprints, etc… Once you’ve tied enough evidence together, you can move on to the next phase – attaining a warrant and start grilling the lying suspects.

Every suspect that you bring in for interrogation will present some difficulties when trying to optain the truth, and it’s your job to counter their statements using the evidence that you’ve processed from the lab. But this part of the game is actually quite mindless and requires no skill what-so-ever to crack their lying ego. Any time you initiate a line of questioning with a character, you’ll be presented with various topics of conversation for you to choose, but the choices end there. You can never ask the wrong question, and pushing “X” to progress the interrogation just simply ushers the story along. Only minimal thinking is used when it’s time to present evidence to catch them in a lie, and when you do, your suspects will willingly spill the beans. Overall, there is little to no suspense when cross-examining your suspects as the scripting for the dialog is forced and very linear.

With the simple gameplay out of the way, Fatal Conspiracy also heads down the wrong path in its presentation. The graphics are sadly out-dated with PS2-era rendering, and the frame rates will stutter from time to time between its stiff animations. For a game that tries really hard to be taken seriously, the effort falls flat due those visual short-comings. The sound effects are also very minimal with only a few recycled sound bytes that become all too familiar after completing the first chapter.

The only positive element that can be salvaged is the story. All the chapters will originally play out as a separate tale, but are then woven back together at the conclusion to bring about a somewhat unexpected ending. In fact, since the rest of the game is so moot, the weight of CSI’s success really rides heavily on the ability for the script to deliver. The only way the plot is conveyed is through the dialog in the voice acting, which isn’t too bad, but then again, there isn’t much for them to really work with. However, the character’s emotions are sometimes inconsistent and can be monotone, so you may find yourself getting sidetracked with what’s for dinner and then find yourself lost when you snap back into focus on the game.

Even if Fatal Conspiracy had any shred of decency to it, the game ultimately collapses on the users ability to interact with it. The interface and the control mechanics are clunky and slow. The cursor on the screen will sluggishly move from one side to another while you’re trying to scavenge a scene for evidence. Likewise, when finesse is needed to fine tune your motions, the cursor becomes overly sensitive. Your choices within the game are always forced, leading you by the hand and preventing you from the mishap of doing anything wrong.

You’re also shackled to your mobile phone as that will become your lifeline to perform most of you actions.Your cell phone is probably used 60% of the time in Fatal Conspiracy to review evidence, travel to different locations, check emails and even saving your progress. There are some additional tabs to view suspect profiles, but I found that I solved a chapter without even referring to many of the so-called “features” on the phone. However, since you will be devoting a lot of time in your phone, it’s a wonder why little care was given towards making the interface user-friendly, and more importantly fun to use. The lack of connection with the controls would definitely be enough of a reason to avoid the frustrations all together.

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy will easily land itself in the cold case files, thanks to the dated presentation, shoddy user-interfaces, and lack of any depth in gameplay. It honestly feels like the game’s script should have made its way back to its TV slot and avoid the attempt at entertaining it fans interactively, especially when the game mechanics feel forced and pointless altogether. A game idea like CSI needs to spend more time behind the creative department, or better yet, it should stay in its prime-time TV slot where it actually has a chance at being called entertainment.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

– Shoddy interface and lack of depth in gameplay.

– Out-dated graphics and substandard presentation.

+ Good Story, but not enough to redeem its downfalls.

3 out of 10