Overview

CSI: Miami is a mystery game styled after the popular TV show. Featuring characters and locations from the show, it does a very good job of relaying the feel of the real thing. The actual gameplay consists of collecting clues from crime scenes, interrogating suspects, and processing evidence at the crime lab. It wasn’t all that challenging, and didn’t really have the player using any analytical skills to complete puzzles, but overall it was a great experience.

  • Looks Great

The realistic art style for this game didn’t leave much to be desired. Everything was polished and looking good. Horatio Caine’s smug expression annoyed me almost as much as it does on the TV show!

  • Sounds Great

Every line of dialog in the game is dubbed over by voice actors. Unfortunately, they’re not the actors from the show, and the lines can sound a little canned and unenthusiastic. Even so, most iPhone games are content with a few lines of text – this one goes for the gold and gets close enough for me.

  • The Right Tool For the Job

A full set of cool CSI tools are available for collecting evidence. Ranging from a pair of tweezers to a UV Light, the array of options available was somewhat impressive.

  • Playing Games at Work?!

Identifying evidence, opening safes, and other suitable activities are all represented by little minigames. These seem to have been borrowed from other games (the DNA minigame is Zuma without a frog) but they serve the purpose of changing things up well enough.

Breakdown

The Good:

I liked a lot about this game. I came into it with a general predisposition against CSI: Miami (the original Las Vegas version of the show is SO much better) but overcame that and actually had some fun. One of the things that impressed me most was the way it captured the feel of a CSI show.The bit-by-bit revelation of new details made for a fairly riveting experience. I found myself anticipating certain lab results, and heading to a crime scene with an idea of what to look for. I found myself wearing the shoes of a crime scene investigator, and I think that’s the whole point here. Mission accomplished, Gameloft.

The crimes are usually pretty good on CSI shows. The pacing and twists make for great television, and that was translated very well here. I found myself impressed by dialog bits that revealed humanizing details about the victim. I was genuinely surprised at one of the plot twists, and found myself actually dismayed at what it meant for my case.

I appreciated that I knew what was going on at any given time. My objectives were clear and instructions were given before each minigame. At no point did I feel completely lost or confused, and when I figured a puzzle out it felt right rather than feeling like “how was I supposed to get that?” Most of the information you get is through dialog with other characters, which helped give me a sense of immersion and involvement. There were occasions where I felt like there was a bit too much handholding, as in the above image.

The Bad:

It’s frustrating when a bad game has problems that prevent you from enjoying it. It’s even worse when a good game has those problems. I encountered many many situations where the game didn’t register my presses on the screen. In some cases, it would show the cursor indicating that I was making contact, but wouldn’t perform the action I was trying to do. The app store has a number of reviews that say the screen locked up on them frequently, which seems to be the same problem. I was always able to get through, but it required way too much screen-mashing at certain parts.

The other complaints I have about the game aren’t too huge. The actual ‘game’ part of this game felt a little shallow. Minigames were fairly repetitive and most were very simple. Using tools didn’t really amount to much in terms of interaction – I was selecting an icon and occasionally rubbing my finger across the screen. For a majority of the game I was comparing it to on-rails shooters. There was nothing to do except exactly what you were supposed to do. If you failed any minigame, there didn’t seem to be any penalty. Basically it seemed like the only way you could affect any outcome was to stop playing.

Verdict

I was ultimately interested enough to want to finish this game, and since it provided a solid two hours of gameplay, I’d say this is worth the money. Fans of the show will be thrilled at how similar the game is stylistically, and the story is great. The issue with the screen was frustrating but not gamebreaking, and it appears that not everyone encounters it. Aside from that, in terms of polish and production values, this game is top-notch for now. Gameloft is pretty consistent about putting out great games, and this one is no exception.