CSI: Miami is an adventure game based on the TV series starring Horatio Caine, a hard-bitten forensic homicide detective working in the glitzy tropical burg of Miami. As the game methodically guides you through its single original mystery, you may occasionally be fascinated by the technical details of solving a murder, but you’ll never really feel like you’re playing the TV show. CSI: Miami is marred by cruddy voice acting and frequent loads, and it just isn’t that fun, either.
Miami’s beaches are supposed to be populated by beautiful women in bikinis… just not dead ones. Like every other episode of CSI: Miami, the game kicks off with a body, the suspicion of foul play, and Caine–equipped as usual with sunglasses, a bagful of one-liners, and some heavy-duty crime solving technology. In order to get from the deceased to a perp, you’ll need to spend the next two hours or so gathering evidence, hitting the crime lab, and interviewing assorted dirtbags down at Central, abetted by Caine’s crack team of cops and scientists. Additional bodies will drop, new characters will be introduced, and a plot twist or two will enliven the proceedings. It’s not the tightest or most creative writing we’ve seen, but the game generally does a good job of keeping the plot moving along.
Gameplay proceeds in the same methodological sequence used by real crime fighters. First, you gather all the evidence from a crime scene using various tools, like tweezers, swabs, and fluorescent spray; this is mostly handled by moving a cursor around the screen with your finger until you happen upon something significant. Then, you take the evidence back to the lab and analyze it by playing several kinds of minigames. There’s a Match-3 game for DNA extraction, a matching game for comparing evidence samples, and so on. Finally, you draw conclusions and haul in new suspects for questioning.
It takes quite a few of these cycles to complete the mystery, but it’s only enjoyable for the first couple; after that, most of it feels like busywork, especially the minigames. This game would have been a lot more interesting if it forced you to do your own thinking at any point, but it really leads you around by the nose. It tells you how many pieces of evidence you need to get out of each scene, how to analyze them, and where you should go next. There are no consequences when you screw up. You can’t lose, which makes it hard to care. Plus, whenever you change screens, you get to sit through five-second load while one of the show’s characters says a catchphrase. This is stale by the fifth load, and downright excruciating by the fortieth.
CSI: Miami has nice background art, and a neat, computer-like interface, but its voice acting could have been a lot stronger. Thankfully, the guy voicing Caine is the strongest of the bunch, since you listen to him the most, but he’s merely adequate. The other voice actors range from mediocre to terrible. Whoever plays Calleigh is bad enough to occasionally inflect statements as questions. We also noticed a pretty nasty interface bug during the interrogation sequences; you’re supposed to choose what to say by tapping on a dialog box, but it often doesn’t respond at all.
Overall, this game is a disappointment. The adventure’s short, the experience is riddled with little problems that leach most of the fun out of it, and fans of the show aren’t going to like the voice acting at all. CSI: Miami does have some bonus content–unlockable video montages of each CSI squad member–and multiple difficulty levels, but we found no compelling reason to play through again. You may be better off spending that $5.99 elsewhere.