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? 

ss_1e28c9ba1188ef3c7530d272dbbd1f5d735f9281.1920x1080

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The negative you see popping up in each and every review is that the graphics look outdated.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: The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword (Wii) ~ Golden Remote

TLoZ-SS-B-BOfficial site

It has been so long since I wrote an article about a Wii game. So, since I planned an article about a Zelda game this month, I decided to switch it with this one. That way I avoid using last month’s theme. I wish I could call this a review, but I haven’t finished this game yet. It’s quite a big shame. But I’ll explain the reason why. It’s because I can’t seem to beat one boss. Levias. Man, he isn’t easy. Then I got distracted by other games and yeah, I kinda put this game down. Yesterday I picked it back up and after playing it for a while, I decided to write an article about it. So, here it is! This game was actually the reason why I wanted my first console. Yeah. Loyal readers know that my first console I ever owned was my Wii. I have more been a gameboy kid. (That’s why handheld gaming is such a big focus on my blog.) Anyways, enough talking in this introduction. It’s time to delve into my opinions of this game before I beat it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Navi is back? 

the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword-screenshot-stalfos

In this game, they thankfully dared to change around the usual story of Zelda being kidnapped. In this game it’s actually your goal to defeat the evil trying to destroy the land, while Zelda is supporting you.

It’s quite clear how they tried to do something different with this game. Honestly, it works for me. The story is full of amazing moments that can please any Zelda fan. I even got emotional during one or two scenes due to the pure nostalgia bomb that was dropped.

But why did I choose this subtitle? Well, that’s because one of the main complaints with the game is that Fi has a similar level of annoyance to Navi from Ocarina Of Time. While I don’t think that’s true, I do see where people are coming from. In my opinion, I think that Fi could have benefited from a bit more development. The lack of development is the main reason why Fi gets compared to Navi, I think. Also, she warns you if your Wii Remote batteries are almost empty. That is rather annoying since it already displays a small symbol in the bottom right corner. I think that Fi is a character with a lot of unused potential.

25 years of joy

The-Legend-of-Zelda-Skyward-Sword-17This game has been released for the 25th birthday of the series. To various people, it was a disappointment, but I honestly disagree. This isn’t the best Zelda game out there yet it does manage to be one of the best titles in my book.

The story does feel genuine. I already talked about that, so let’s move on to the presentation. This is where this game truly shines. This game is a combination of the shell shading of “Wind Waker” and the more realistic  visuals of “Twilight Princess”. It works perfectly.

Thanks to this style, the game can be serious or less serious when it needs to be. I got truly sucked into the game various times. The animation has a lot to do with that too. Everything behaves like it would in real life. Thanks to the presentation you start to walk that thin line of believing that the world is real and alive. You start to forget that this is a game world.

So, it’s clear that I think that the game looks like eye-candy. I don’t know if it pushes the Wii to it’s limits, but honestly that doesn’t really matter. It needs to be a fun game to play. More on that later.

I haven’t talked about everything of the presentation yet. The music and sounds of the game. That’s part of the presentation too. Let me tell you, this game has no voice acting, like we are used from the Zelda series, but it does have an amazing sound design. The sound effects give a nostalgic vibe yet they feel new and fresh as well. The music is one of the game strongest points. I never have heard a more melodic, touching to veteran players, enjoyable, memorable… soundtrack in a game! It gets you in the right mood every time. It never gets boring to listen to one tune.

Wii Motion Plus

the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword-screenshots

When you pre-ordered the game, you got a special disc of the concert of the Zelda music, a poster, a special box and a special golden Wii remote with the Wii Motion Plus. I honestly think that without the Wii Motion Plus controls the game wouldn’t have been as much fun as it is now.

I had moments where I felt that the Wii Remote was actually Link’s sword. Every little shake you did with the sword, Link actually did on screen.

The controls of this game are nearly perfect. While I feel that the controls for the bird rides could have been improved on, I have no other big complaints about the controls.

About the flying, you control the bird by the Wii Remote only. Now, for all other movement, you use the that other thingy… The nunchuck. This feels awkward from time to time. I can’t count on one hand how many times I tried to use the joystick of the nunchuck to try to move my bird. It might be my impression but I think that there is a lag between the moving of the controller and the bird.

Anyways, I think I’ll leave it here for my first impression. I realize that I haven’t talked about gameplay yet or more in depth about the presentation. But those things will be talked about more in depth in the review. (If I ever write it) I hope you enjoyed reading my first impressions of this game. I hope to beat it soon, so I can fully review this game. Thanks again for reading and until another article. Take care and game on!

Game Music: My Favorites – Numbero 9: Nintendo (3)DS Month Special!

KorgDS10NA

Read more gaming music articles.

Since this month’s theme is the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS, in this new music article, I will list some of my favorite tracks of the system. New readers, in this series I talk about my favorite tracks in the games I have played. So, when I haven’t played a game, I won’t talk about it. I will explain also why I selected the track or I talk about the feelings and history it has with me. I have a few rules though. I only select original tracks. So, I don’t select remixes of the tracks. Also, to limit myself, I only select one track per game per article. So, if I want to talk about 2 tracks of the same Kirby game, I have to do that over two articles. My biggest fear is always that I might have talked about a track in the past. When you ever notice that I talked about a song twice, feel free to leave me a comment to let me know. In that case, I will add an additional track to my next article in the series to make up for it. You could leave other comments as well of course. Like what your opinion is on the games, music and or the article. Also, for anyone wondering, yes this game is real. There is really a synthesizer on the DS. 

#1: Time Hollow – Friends

Time_HollowLink

I recently reviewed this game. So, why not included one of it’s tracks in this article? When I publish everything according to how I planned it for this month, it should be the previous article!

So, this track is very lighthearted and pretty upbeat. I do have to admit that I sometimes place this track to the wrong game. Such a shame. One day, I confused it with another track from the game Lux Pain called Pumpkin Pon. It has similar elements.

From now on, I will try to avoid getting the two mixed up. Because I wrote an article on this, so I have to remember right?

I was planning to write something unique here, using the elements of the game. But when I read over it twice, I noticed that I might spoil a bit of the story. And I want to avoid that. Like I said in the introduction of my review. Anyways, give this one a listen. 🙂

#2: Suikoden Tierkreis – By the pride of the sword

suikoden_tierkreisLink

I was amazed when I found out that I haven’t talked about this track yet! I wrote an article about this game in the past, a first impression. Since I have been playing it again lately, it has been keeping me up at night. Yeah, I fell in love with this game. The concept, the story, the gameplay… I love it all.

The game does have it’s flaws though, yet the soundtrack isn’t one of them. Not at all actually! The soundtrack is one of the strong points in this gem of a RPG.

I used to RP in the past on my forum and I used this theme for my main character! I liked it that much. Up until now, I use to listen to this style of music when I’m writing a story about a hero that leaves on a journey. The music has inspired me to do all sorts of crazy twists in my stories.

Anyways, give it a listen for yourself. Since I’m blinded by pure love for this game.

 #3: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity – Ending

PMGTI

Link

Let’s pick one of the 3DS library. And this track of the soundtrack is just amazing. You finally finished the game and you have beaten the final boss. Now, you see the story play out. Like I said in my review of the game, the ending of this game will make you emotional.

Listing to this amazing piece of music while seeing the credits roll feels so good. I felt rewarded when I heard this song. Honestly, I’m considering making this my cellphone ringtone or my alarm clock. I love it that much.

Lately, all games are going for a more orchestrated version of their soundtrack. It still blows me off my socks to hear that they do this also for portable games. This gives me hope in seeing more amazing adventures coming to my portable systems.

I just don’t feel as rewarded as I finish a game on a console. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for portable gaming or might it be something else? Who knows?

Anyways, I think I have said enough about this track. I encourage you to listen to this amazing piece of music. But this music is “stronger” when you hear it in-game.

#4: Okamiden – Preparing for action

Okamiden-titleLink

Remember how I talked a while ago about Okami? Well, there is a sequel of that game. On the Nintendo DS! And it works great! I’m even planning to write a review of this game in this DS themed month.

If I don’t write an article about this game this month, you may be sure that one day I will write about this! Since this is one underrated gem on the DS. I’m really hoping to see a 3rd game in the Okami series. So, Capcom, get to work please!

About the music, this is another case of “sounds better in-game”. The whole soundtrack of Okami and Okamiden is amazing to listen too. If you would ask what my favorite track is in the game, I wouldn’t be able to answer. Since I do enjoy them all. I have some that I love more then others, but there is no track that really stands out for me. Yeah.

 #5: The Legend Of Zelda – Spirit Tracks – Realm Overworld

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_Spirit_Tracks_(Europe)Link

I do remember the hate and trolling this game got when it was announced. Link in a train? A lot of people made fun of it. While at first it looked like a strange idea for a Zelda game, in the end, it worked out in my opinion.

While the game was exciting, I honestly think they could have done a little bit more with the train mechanic. But, hey, this article isn’t mean to review the game. That’s for later this month. (Or I might change my mind and review Phantom Hourglass).

Anyways, I was hyped for this game. When I finally got my hands on this game, I enjoyed it a whole lot. This game has several winks to previous titles. Even in the music. The overworld track reminds me a bit of the ocean theme and the Hyrule field theme.

I think the soundtrack of this game is one of the best soundtracks in a handheld Zelda game. While it’s dangerous to say that, since you have Ocarina of Time on 3DS (remake) and that’s a remake of many people their favorite game.

Closing words

There we go, 5 tracks picked from the Nintendo (3)DS library that I consider as amazing tunes. It’s quite clear that I can’t pick a favorite piece of music in games. I mean, I nearly wrote ten articles about it.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading and listing to the music. As I said in the introduction, feel free to leave a comment. I read them all! But this will do it for this article. I hope to see you in one of my next articles.

NekoJonez: Are digital downloads really a benefit for the market?

steamos_2_web-100055303-large_thumbAre platforms like Steam and Origin really a benefit for the games market? Must everything now go digital or is that something that might doom the market? Let’s think about it. I think that this movement is a double-edged sword. It’s good but there is a big “But”. Cap was intended. I can’t deny that platforms like Steam and other have many advantages. But clearly, I have also a blaming finger to raise. I talked and discussed with many of my friends about this. From people in ButtonSmashers, Arpegi and outside of both of them. And after many rewrites, I think it’s time to voice my view on this. Feel free to debate with me on this in the comments. Flame comments will be removed of course. 

My biggest problem

Many people see this as the way of the future. Everything needs to go digital. It makes things so much easier. Yet, there is a big issue that comes with this. Security. Think about this, that your account is hacked and you lost all your progress and games. Or worse, they got your bank information. I have no doubt in my mind that this is something hackers in the future will be able to achieve.

Another issue is the fact that privacy is gone. Some people want to hide that they game since for some companies that are a big no if you want to be hired. Gamers have a big reputation thanks to some events that the media blew out of proportion. So, you have to hide. In addition to that, you can’t really hide your “guilty pleasure” games anymore. You know, those games that make your reputation of “hardcore gamer” go poof as snow for the sun.

And don’t get me started about abusing the system. There are some many ways to cheat the system and make fake money that can be used to buy games then. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good percentage of the sales on those digital platforms are actually illegal purchases gone undetected.

Android market feel

 

Best-Free-Android-Games-Of-2013I’m not going to lie, I bought a ton of games on Steam the past month. But I really man, a lot of them. And my fear got actually confirmed. I felt like being in some online app store. Where you can easily download games and install them. And I kept playing a part of the game and when I got a bit bored of the game, I downloaded the next one.

Isn’t that a bit harsh? There can be boring moments in a game but when you wouldn’t have this Steam or Origin, it was your newest game and then your motivation was higher. At least in my case.

Also, as a retro gamer, I saw that nearly all the games I played in the past are on Steam as well. I’m afraid I won’t survive any sale if one happens of a game on my wishlist.

My point here is that it became too easy to find new games and you start to think less about your budget. It’s not new that I hear people say that they got a ton of games from a sale but if you really look to it, how many games are actually played and or finished from the ones they bought? Probably not all of them.

Big dogs smelled money.

Before I explain my next point, I want to talk about another thing. I’m a big-time collector. If I’m at a garage sale, my mood is like: “Buy all the games!”. If I had the money for it, I would. Yet, going to a garage sale and trying to hassle or look for a game. That feeling of going home with a new stack of games felt so rewarding. And that’s a feeling I have lost with Steam and Origin. You just push in some numbers and do one or two clicks. You can’t hassle or try to lower the price. And looking for a game is just a search away.

But this is actually a nightmare for collectors. Physical copies are a thing of the past. I love being able to hold a game in my hands and showing it off to my friends and being like: “Hey, look I got this new game.” That might be a bit bragging but hey, who doesn’t do that from time to time?

But what in the name of the good games are big companies like Atari and Square doing on Steam? Selling their big titles like Call of Duty, Final Fantasy and various other franchises. Honestly, I don’t think it’s good for that. If I would be Steam, I would have only allowed indie or start-up developers to make their big entree in the market.

Scary

I’m also afraid that the ease of DLC for developers on Steam might slowly be the new norm. The satire game DLC Quest might become the future reality one day. In this game, you can’t even go left at the start of the game. You have to buy the DLC for it when you have enough in-game coins. And I have this one game called Tomb Raider that has a big load of DLC and yeah, I bought it all. Just because I hate when I don’t have the complete package.

One of the final issues I can come up with is maybe one of the scariest things. The fact you and those developers become independent (Edit: Thanks for noticing my mistake here BloodCat.) from one company. Image how big of a catastrophe it would be if Steam went bankrupt. Or when they couldn’t handle the server load and much data is lost. Scary thought no? Or that they become so big that local game stores go out of business. Many jobs lost.

In conclusion

I can’t deny that platforms like Steam or Origin are great things. Many indie developers can show off their games. You can also buy games that your local game store might not offer. And if those stores are too far away, you can easily buy them on those platforms.

But if you look at it, there are big flaws in this system you can’t deny. I won’t go explaining them again since I talked about it in this article. I’m sure that I forgot some things in my article but I’m sure that I got the most crucial written down.

Maybe a good message is that you shouldn’t forget that there are retailers and various other things to get your games outside of Steam and Origin. It’s such a nice thing in our gaming culture so let’s not go to a culture where we sit in front of a computer and don’t much a muscle to get our games since you can easily get them on Steam.