By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
How do those forensics experts on TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation solve a complex murder with just a strand of hair found at the scene of the crime?
Ubisoft's new adventure game may have some answers.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- Dark Motives is a PC title that lets you pair up with familiar CSI personalities -- such as Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom and Warrick Brown -- to solve five unique cases, each one penned by the show's writers.
The goal of each mission is to examine the crime scene, collect and analyze evidence, talk with witnesses and suspects, and eventually solve the crime given all the information presented.
The first scenario involves a stuntman whose motorcycle was tampered with while taping an episode of a reality show. By examining evidence collected from the set, and by questioning the hospitalized victim, the show's producer and a mechanic, you can build enough of a case to be granted a search warrant from your boss, Jim Brass, to help push you closer to solving the case. Eventually, you must prove someone's guilt to Brass in order to win the mission.
Hints can be given by your CSI partners, but points will be deducted in an overall rating at the end of each scenario.
Using forensic equipment is key. There are low-tech collection tools such as a cotton swab, and more sophisticated detection tools, including a handheld ultraviolet light unit. Mikrosil, a putty-like casting material is used to take impressions of shoe prints and tire tracks.
Players will make frequent trips to Greg Sanders, the lab technician, for his analysis of key evidence. The lab also houses the computer to match fingerprints, tire tracks and more.
Dark Motives features the likenesses and voices of the entire CSI cast. It is amazing how well they look like their real-life counterparts -- though the sloppy lip-synching is distracting.
The game also includes familiar music, Las Vegas locations and even those graphic "flashback" sequences, such as a close-up of a bullet entering and passing through a body until it hits bone.
Dark Motives is better than the first game in this series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
These cases are tougher to solve, there are more options for players and there are unlockable bonuses for successfully completing each mission.
The game is relatively short -- seven or eight hours -- and some minor bugs might cause the game to repeat narrator dialogue or fail to show an onscreen menu.
Overall, Dark Motives is an example of how a game based on a television show can be done right. It may not be a long adventure, but it's a fun challenge.
Visit http://csidarkmotives.ubi.com/ for screen shots, movies, wallpaper, e-cards and more.