First Impression: Accident (PC – Steam) ~ Let us Learn About Saving Lives

Steam store

For those who do not know yet, I work as an IT Admin in a big art high school (secondary school) in Belgium. Also, I have a lot of games in my PC collection that are part of the “edutainment” genre of games. So, when Duality Games offered me a free press copy of their newly released “Accident” game, I was extremely interested. As usual, the developer asked me to give my full 100% honest opinion, so that is what you are going to get in this article. So yeah, does this game hold up while being reviewed by somebody who is working in the education sector for 7 years now? Let us find out and let us find out if it is fun to play as well as a game. Personally, I want to find something out as well from you, the reader. I want to find out what your thoughts and opinions are on the game and/or the content of this article so feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.

Reviewed version: Build 1.05

Let us Learn About Saving Lives

In this game, you play a nameless person who is working for a nameless company that started a new project called “Roadside Heroes”. In this VR-experience, you are set in the shoes of a person who encountered a traffic accident and it’s to you to make sure that the people in the accident make it out alive.

In terms of story, this game is a bit lacking. Since it’s unclear if you are working for a game company who is working on a VR-game about traffic accidents or if you are a part of your police training or if it’s for the emergency workers or if it’s part of a recreation program for reports and journalists… It is all a bit vague. On one hand, this can help to insert yourself in the game and make the story whatever you want but on the other hand, I felt a bit disconnected from the game since the story didn’t immerse me. (Now, I am going to completely ignore the fact that the store page gives more story since I mostly focus on these articles on what is told to the player through the game itself.)

While writing this article, I was asking myself: “Should this game even have a good story?”. And this is a tricky question to answer. For reasons I will explain later, this game can be a perfect teaching tool to help people what to do in the event of a traffic accident. It can also be a great “shock game” for people who feel that traffic laws are only a suggestion. So yeah, in that case, the fact that this game does not have a too in-depth story is a good thing since it does not get in the way of the actual intention of the game.

Most of the story is being told through your phone on your desk. After completing a case, you get a text from Mark telling about the next case. A neat detail in this game is that the clock on the mobile phone matches the real-time of the system clock.

In terms of writing, this game is decent even for a “lacking story” (which again, is not a negative for this game for the reason I explained earlier). There is some minor voice acting and voice work but most of it is nothing special to write home about.

So, this game starts off with a tutorial case. In this case, you learn the basic operations and mechanics in this game. It teaches you the controls and the steps you should take during the other cases. The tutorial is a little bit hand-holdy, but I noticed that this only happens during the tutorial since you are mostly on your own during the other cases. You do have objectives to complete, but it is up to you to find out how to complete these objectives with what you learned during the tutorial. So, let us dive right into some cases and start saving lives.

Teaching tool?

Each case starts the same way. You drive towards the site and you call the emergency services. The reason why I feel like this game can be a great teaching tool is that in various moments, a non-intrusive box appears on the top in the middle of your screen with the reason why you would do such actions in real life. For example: “Turning off the engine will stop the chance of engine fires in real life.” This can be very helpful advice and maybe save lives in the real world. This is not the only occasion that this happens.

This game can teach you a lot of things but there is no backend for the teachers. So, there is no way to see how your students reacted or if they had to redo certain cases or how they failed… Honestly, if this would be added to the game, it would make this game a very powerful teaching tool for those traffic lessons. But teachers can be creative and maybe this can be used in group work.

Before I ramble too much about that, let us put the focus on reviewing this game as a game. This game has been localized in different languages. You can play this game in English, French, Chinese, Polish, German, Spanish, and Russian. Since I know some French, I tried this game in French and I can tell you that the translation is done extremely well.

So, what do you have to do in this game? Well, you play the role of the guy or girl who was the first person that intervened when the accident happened. You must call the emergency services and provide first aid to the victims if needed. After that, you must piece together what happened and why the accident happened.

There is something unique about each case. In one case, you are knee-deep in the Russian winter, and in another case, you are in the extremely hot desert. If I have to give a genre to this game, I would say that it’s a puzzle game since you need to find out what the right steps are to finish the case with the least amount of deaths. Sadly enough, when you did not provide the correct aid and somebody died, it is game over.

On one hand, I dislike this mechanic and on the other hand, I don’t mind the mechanic too much since you can rewind time at any moment to redo a certain part in case you can do it better or faster. When you press “R”, you can rewind time to a previous decision point. The longer you press “R”, the further you go back.

Sadly enough, this means that there is only one way to complete each case. I silently hoped that this game would have worked with some sort of rating system where you could see if your actions saved the most lives or were the best way to handle the situation.

The whole package

If you look at the credits of this game, most of this game is created by Paul Dyvel apart from the music and the 3D art in this game. I must be honest, for the result is rather impressive. Let us first talk about the controls of this game. Thankfully, I was able to rebind them since this game does not recognize the keyboard layout “AZERTY” from Belgium and France… But that is a nitpick I have in almost every game.

Sadly enough, I do have to complain in terms of the controls. The first complaint has to do with putting out fires. I feel that this is a bit too pixel perfect. I had to redo the tutorial several times because I was unable to put out the fire. I honestly do not understand how to put out the fires since there is not enough feedback to the player in my opinion to tell them if they are actually putting out the fire or missing it completely.

The second complaint is about CPR. It took me a while to get into a correct rhythm for the chest compressions but when I learned that the heart rate graph is a nice indication to get in the correct rhythm, I didn’t have problems with chest compressions anymore. But here is the most annoying issue. It is the breathing mask and its controls. You must drag your mouse up and down. But that dragging up and down… Well, I know I have a small mousepad, but I almost must drag it all the way up my desk. It is a bit much. Also, as soon as you let go of dragging up, you must restart that breath… It is a bit too finicky. Apart from those two issues, the controls are quite responsive and easy to learn.  

Let us talk about the audio-visual design. In this game, the music is created by artists over at SoundStripe.com. It is extremely kind of the developers to list in the credits which artists were used. But I am unable to track the actual tracks down. It is a shame since I really enjoy listing to the tracks, and I would love to hear more from the artists. In terms of sound design, I think Paul did a very nice job. I have to say, I highly recommend that you play this game with a headset since it enhances the sound design and the music so much more.  

Something else I would like to talk about is the difficultly of this game. This game rides that fine line of being too easy and too challenging. Some scenarios are a bit too easy in my opinion. The scenario in America was over before I knew it while the two other unlocked scenarios were trickier to finish.

It is time now to talk about the visual presentation of this game. This game looks amazing for being created by such a small team. The models look extremely detailed and they are nicely animated. I love that there is some attention to detail like the chest slightly moving when you check if the victim is breathing or not.

It pains me to say that in some cases, I noticed that some corners were cut. For example, the textures for the clothes look less detailed than the other parts of the game. Another example is the car mirrors, it is quite clear that a less detailed version of the road is playing in it.

While this game has high attention to details, there are a few mistakes in terms of details that can break immersion. For example, the Wi-Fi symbol on the phones while there is no Wi-Fi access point nearby. Or the fact that the kilometers per hour do not make any sense on the dashboard of the car, I have even seen it go into the negatives several times during the Russian case. And let us not forget to mention that you can enter cars while holding victims without an issue.

Thankfully, these are small little things that are not a big deal breaker in terms of immersion and gameplay. Since overall, the atmosphere and the visual design of this game are good. The environments like quite real and apart from what I mentioned above, I barely have any complaints or suggestions to improve.

This brings me to the final part of this game I want to talk about. And that is the UI. There are a few things I would like to say about the UI. Overall, the UI is pretty good apart from several minor issues that give the game an unpolished feeling. Let me give you a few examples. Granted, some of these examples are visual issues combined with UI things.

Number 1: the “return” button can clash with the feedback button. This results in being able to return from the accident screen and opening the feedback screen.

Number 2: the feedback screen is strange. You do not get a message if your feedback has been sent or not and you have to select a thumbs up or down when you want to report a bug…

Number 3: you are unable to open the pause menu during the rewinding of time.

Number 4: there is no “reset to defaults” button in the video settings of the options menu.

Number 5: the credits text is a bit hard to read. Speaking about the credits, they do not wrap. So, you must scroll up to restart them. And the strange thing is, that this does not always happen… Sometimes I can easily read the credits. I think it depends on the resolution.

Number 6: when you complete a case, the complete sticker appears over the name of the case. Making you unable to read it.

Number 7: you are unable to skip the intro to each case.

Number 8: you are unable to scroll in dropdown menus.

Number 9: you do not get an error message when you try and double-bind keys.

Number 10: you are unable to save during a case. You must do them in one sitting. But after finishing the case, it autosaves.

So, in general. What do I think about this game? Well, I honestly think that this is an enjoyable game and a nice concept. I think it would be a shame if this game does not get more cases or some sort of a sequel. Thankfully, there are high hopes for that! Since this game is in early access now. There is a demo version available but reading from the reviews, that’s less polished than the final product.

Would I recommend this game? Yes, I would. I think this game is a great adventure/puzzle game that also teaches you several things about car accidents. While the game takes some liberties on how to save people, the game always tells you when the game and reality conflicts. Also, each country works quite differently… But that is a whole other can of worms where I do not have the right knowledge and specifications to discuss. So let me say this, always call the emergency number when you come across an accident and ask what you should do and follow their instructions. 

So, I am quite curious about which improvements this game will get when it is in its final state. There are going to be more cases, tweaks, and improvements. If I have the time, I will write a follow-up article and review this game but for now, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. So, with that said: thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

 

First Impression: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Fatal Conspiracy (PC) ~ Ah, CSI.

csi-crime-scene-investigation-fatal-conspiracy-megjelenes-dobozkep-5f1e286a56874898ba77-largeWikipedia entry

Lately, I’m getting quite a lot into the series of CSI. I’m currently watching the original series to the end. Then the spin-offs. But the games, oh man, the games are something special. Published by Ubisoft and developed by TellTale Games. This game has mixed reviews all over the board. I have seen reviews ripping this game a new one and I have seen reviews praising this game. This is the latest PC game that came from the series. I have beaten the first two cases and I just started the 3rd case. Is this a good game in my opinion? Is this a game made for fans of the series or can it be played by everyone? Well, I took a look from both angles. So, I won’t get the criticism that I gave this game a positive review because I’m a fan of the series. So, let’s dive right into this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and or the game. 

TellTale made this

maxresdefaultIt’s quite clear that TellTale games made this game. The formatting is just like their other series. The game is 5 cases long. During the game, you get another partner every time. What seriously amazed me is that the characters from the show actually did the voice acting for this game.  This give me goosebumps. One of the goals of these games is trying to give you the feeling that you are part of the team. The voice acting helps a lot with this.

The writing is done on a very clever way. Some lines are left out. Information your brain can easily fill in. Questions you would ask if the game was voice controlled. This helps draw you in a bit more too.

Storywise, this game starts off quite interesting. The idea of having a storyline over the whole game instead of having five separate stories makes it very interesting. The only minor complaint I have here is that the pacing is a bit off. It distracts a bit from the case in my opinion. Truth to be told, you can’t avoid it.

 The individual cases are quite interesting. But they aren’t my favorite cases from the series. They are good but my favorite cases are from the second game in the series.

Why is it bad?

CSI Fatal Conspiracy Screenshot 4Visually, this game doesn’t look that well. This game has been released 5 years ago. I know for a fact that visually, games can look way better then this. Tomb Raider Legend, which released 4 years prior, looked way more cleaner then this game.

So, I played a little bit more of the game and found some blurring issues. It would surprise me if my computer is at fault here. I’m extremely sure it can run this game three times without slowing down my computer.

But for a licensed game, visually this game looks quite fine. Some things could have been animated to look a bit better. So, after closer inspection (see what I did there) the issue with the visuals is that some things like hair aren’t animated which giving the visuals a bad impression to a PC gamer. Thankfully, in an adventure game the graphics aren’t the priority. The actual adventure is a bit more important.

One thing I find a negative in this game is that you can’t walk around. In a previous installment, you were allowed to walk around on the crime scene. I was hoping they implemented this again. But now, it’s back to the old point-and-click interface. Which is quite fine by me, expect for one flaw. In the game you are scored on how thorough you are. A visual indication for this would be nice, there have been various times that I was searching on a spot that was actually clean. They did this in the previous installments.

Another thing I don’t understand is that they cut the lab into two area’s. It’s rather annoying when you need to switch between the two places. Also, it’s annoying to see a number showing with the evidence. I can understand that it’s to help you remember that are is something that needs your processing, but you have no visual indication which item you still need to take a closer look at. That number also doesn’t decrease when you investigate it with the proper machine.

Oh, I talked a bit earlier about the lab. Some instruction videos actually didn’t work and it played part of the intro for this game. This is the weirdest bug I have seen for quite a while.

The GUI (graphical user interface, the menus and such) in the lab is a bit lacking. In the past it was easier to switch between evidence. Now, you need to restart before you can continue.

Yet, the worst two issues is that you can barely alt+tab out of the game. Your screen will show some weird bars like a smashed LCD screen. And related to that, sometimes the sound cuts out on a scary way… as your headphones just popped.

What is good…?

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Apart from the visuals, I find barely any major flaws, apart from some nitpicks here and there, in the game. The soundtrack in this game feels a lot like the series. Music that won’t go to your music library but is perfect to set the mood.

The design of the crime scenes and the locations you visit are well thought out. The “hiding spots” for the evidence are sometimes so well hidden, it’s easy to look over them. This is very lovely, since this gives the game a more challenging nature.

Also, there are achievements in this game. For the people who want to 100% this game, this is some replay value. You can try to avoid making the mistakes you made in the first playthrough.

The tips system is more streamlined. Sometimes you get mails from the night shift supervisor telling you what you should do or might overlook.

Is this game perfect? Hell no, it has some flaws that might hinder the experience. Is it good? Yes. Is it for everyone? Not really. I would recommend it to fans of the series and adventure gamers. I would also recommend it to people who like to solve crimes, virtually or in the real world.

If you are able to look past a few minor issues, this game is quite well crafted. When the developers had a bit more time, this game could be a bit better polished. That’s all I have to say about this game in my first impression. If I finish it, I might write a review about it and go a bit more in depth about certain area’s of the game.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this for you guys (or girls). I hope to welcome you at another article. But until then, have a nice day and game on~

Review #040: CSI – Hard Evidence (PC ~ Steam) ~ Strange Case

256px-Csi4boxcoverSteam store link

So, today I want to take another look at this very old case. Wait, scrap that. If I try to be too original in my introduction, I might ruin the beauty of my previous CSI article. Yeah, remember that first impression article I wrote about that CSI PS2 game? I tried to set the mood in the introduction and if I repeat that in this one, it might get boring. Yup, I’m rambling on instead of writing a decent introduction for this game. I just finished it and I want to review it. Before I actually start to review it, I’ll come clean. I enjoyed the other CSI games I played. In total, I know there are 3-4 games like this about CSI. I think that this game is the latest in terms of trying to go for realism instead of a more cartoon-y approch they did in the DS games. In any case, I enjoy the tv-show a lot myself. Too bad that my local channel broadcasts the series out of order. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on this article with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Mediocre game? 

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I know that this game was also released on the XBOX360 and the Wii. But for this review, we take a look at the PC version of the game. It’s developed by TellTale Games, who you might know from the Walking Dead series. One might think that this game must be good. I mean, they make all sorts of amazing adventure point-and-click games.

If I look around the internet to what other people think about this game, I read mostly negative reviews. But is this game a cheap cash-in of a very popular series? Let me play devil’s advocate and say no. Sure, there are some problems and you might rest assured I’ll address them in this review but overall, this game is a nice one.

The evidence for that is in the story. Each and every case feels like a CSI episode. The characters are quite memorable and the voice acting is decent. I have to disagree that the voice acting is the best the game has too offer since I sometimes don’t feel the emotion in the voice. I also had moments where I felt that the emotion was acted or forced. But that might be because I act on stage myself.

Addressing the criticism

CSI4_screen_0

The negative you see popping up in each and every review is that the graphics look outdated. This is quite vague in my opinion. The area’s you visit and objects look quite clean and decent. They aren’t the best the genre or the system can offer but that’s not the issue here.

The issue here is in the animation of the models. That’s quite flawed. If this game had a rushed development schedule you can see it in the animations. I didn’t had many visual flaws on my gaming laptop but on my desktop with a much stronger graphics card/CPU/RAM… the mistakes are coming quite clear. Mostly around the mouth area, that’s the worst. In the 4th case, I even saw gaps in the mouth were the model wasn’t finished.

 It’s a shame since the visuals of the cutscene video’s give another impression of this game. This game might have looked so much better if they polished up the animations. They could have looked a whole lot better, since you know that TellTale is able to create amazing stuff.

Why did I play this game?

I can be rather short about the music. In this game, the music isn’t meant to be memorable or catchy. It needs to set a certain mood. The music does this job perfectly. It gets me in the right mood to try and solve a murder case and to catch bugs. If you watch the series, you might know that one of the characters is very interested in bugs. In each case, there are several bugs hidden and if you find them all, you get a bonus.

Talking about the bonus content, while it’s a nice addition, it’s quite lackluster. When the title of the bonus material says: “storyboards of case 3” for example, you just get three storyboards of a fragment that took 5-6 seconds in game. They are quite underwhelming and they wouldn’t add to the experience if you want to 100% the game.

CSI4_screen_4

You might start to wonder why I even beat this game. I point out mistakes in almost every category. Well, this game is a good game but it mainly lacks polish. The sound effects create a great feeling of actually being a CSI but not all the time thankfully. It also gives you the feeling that it is fake, created for a TV-show.

All elements of this game blend together quite well and if you put the time into this game instead of focusing on the negatives of this game, you get a nice experience. Before I forget, I have a few things to mention before I go to my conclusion.

First of all, the saving system is just wonderful. Thanks to the automatic save system, I didn’t need to worry that my progress would be lost.

The difficulty of this game is right in the middle. While this is one of the easiest games I played in the series, it can be challenging and puts everything you learned in the tutorial case to the test.

Anyways, I think I talked about most of the things I wanted to talk about, about this game. So, let’s get on with the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Animations can be quite bad.

– The interface isn’t always good to work with.

– No cloud saves.

The good;

+ Acceptable visuals.

+ Nice experience for a CSI fan.

+ Easy but sometimes challenging game.

+ Decent length.

+ Nice and responsive controls.

+ Great voice acting.

Final thoughts:

I said it in my last paragraph, this game lacks polish. If TellTale put a bit more time into the animations, the interface and the game as a whole… I think this game wouldn’t get such a bad rating.

This game can be quite a fun game in the right hands, but if I need to look at it objectively: this game is a mediocre one. But as a fan of CSI and point-and-click games… it isn’t half that bad.

If you start to play this game, don’t set your expectations too high. It isn’t a masterpiece and it’s flaws show quite clearly. If you look passed them, you get 5 interesting cases to play through that each CSI and crime story fan will enjoy.

Score: 70/100.

First Impression: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – 3 Dimensions of Murder (PS2) ~ Part of the wrong era.

Thanks Sprong to upload the best PS2 box-art
Thanks Sprong to upload the best PS2 box-art

Wikipedia entry

But officer! I didn’t commit such a terrible crime! I didn’t make a fun to play game with old graphics. UbiSoft did. So, why am I being questioned? Oh, it’s because I have to answer questions what my first impression was of this game? Okay, I’ll work along. And this doesn’t come on my rap sheet. Sweet! Thanks. So, why did I start playing this game you ask? Well, I played 2 CSI games before on my PC. When I saw this game sitting on the 2nd-hand shelf of my local gaming store I couldn’t hold myself to pick it up and try it. Back in that store I didn’t know that I was in for such a unique experience. This game is truly a mixed bag. …. Oh no, no, no. Not a body bag. … Jeez, you have a strange sense of humor officer. At first I thought this was actually a port of one of the PC games I played but I’m glad to see that it isn’t. I hadn’t played this PC title actually and I didn’t knew about it. So, new cases to play. Man, I was really glad to be able to play them. At least this game didn’t make some major flaws. The tutorial for example is really good. Yes, at the start menu you have a selection to go through a training and experienced gamers can go directly to solve their first case. Instead of the first PC game where you go through a tutorial in your first case. And thanks to a design flaw you were unable to get 100% completion on the first case! Oh, you have a question? Did I talk too long? I hope my answer wasn’t too long. Now I’m not trying to linger my answer to make sure it stops around the end of the box-art for the report of this interrogation. Nah, I wouldn’t do such a thing. I’m all open for questions. To inform the readers of this okay game and to invite them to write a comment about this article in the comment section or their feels with this game. But enough of that, what’s the question officer? 

What makes you keep playing this game?

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So, this game has actually pretty decent controls. Yes, image a game being ported that uses a lot of the mouse movement gets to a console where the is no mouse at all. You move around with one joystick and you move around the camera with the other one. While it’s uneasy at first, after a while you actually get used to it. You really got to hand it to the developers. They did their best with what they had. While it’s a bit clumsy to work with, it does work and after a while it goes from a nuisance to an acceptable flaw.

Also, the stories are pretty fun. But I’ll have to talk more about them later. Various great jokes are present in the writing and made me laugh several times. I always think credit is due where credit is due. And making jokes in serious situations as this is actually pretty awesome since most of them usually fall flat on their face in other games like this.

Also, the gameplay is what draws me into this game. It’s the biggest plus! I extremely enjoy exploring the crime scenes for clues and asking the suspects questions. The fact that you are able to walk around in the game is such a great addition. In the other versions of the game I couldn’t walk around at all and I could just turn my view around 180 degrees. Messing around in the lab, comparing the evidence is such a great thing. Also, the replay value is there. You can try to finish a case with less helping options or find all evidence.

What also is a great addition is that you get a notification when everything is searched in a certain location. You also gear it from your colleague when you can’t do anything more with the evidence. That is a great thing.

Why did you want to kill this game?

Sorry for the blurry screen. PS2 screens are hard to get of this game.
Sorry for the blurry screen. PS2 screens are hard to get of this game.

Oh, that. Well, I actually think that this game made some serious flaws. Like the story. It’s a bit of a letdown too. I finished my first case and it was a tad bit too predictable. You can smell the killer from around the middle of the story.

Also, there is a flaw with the questioning. I got a new location from a suspect but when I decided to ask the remaining questions after looking into this location, I found out that the option to ask him questions wasn’t there anymore.

But the thing that mostly got on my nerves is the fact that the presentation is one of the worst I have playing in my opinion. First of all, graphically this game looks dated. For a PS2 game, it could have used a lot of work on the visuals. The ears of some characters look pointy, the guns look blurry, and the cut scenes look fuzzy.

But the animation also has some serious flaws. Some characters shake their arms for no reason and that really annoys me while I’m asking questions to certain suspects.

Also, what’s up with the visuals? I really had to put up my brightness of my TV to see in certain places. The game is too dark. While it’s a nice touch since it’s dark in the cut scenes, it doesn’t help the game one bit. It makes it just more difficult to play.

What disappoints me also is the fact that I can’t find all pieces of evidence. While I turn each and everything upside down, I still had places that had evidence left.

Also, the game had some flaws with the examining of the evidence. To make sure I have checked a piece 100% I sometimes had to place it in the wrong machine. Otherwise it would just give me a bell sound.

So you ask what my final opinion of this game is? Well, I’m going to finish it one day and I might write a full review. But that’s everything I can say to you people. Thanks for reading and hopefully that clears up my name.