CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder was originally released on the PC nearly a year-and-a-half ago. So why, exactly, are we getting a PlayStation 2 port of it now? This half-hearted, crime-solving adventure game based on the hit TV show didn't offer much more than the same rudimentary take on semen-stain swabbing and footprint photography that the previous CSI games had produced. Not to mention that it had a bad habit of telegraphing the identity of the murderer long before the case was closed. Now it's on the PlayStation 2, and it's every bit the snoozer it was on the PC, only with grainier, darker visuals and a more cumbersome interface.
The PS2 needed a port of 3 Dimensions of Murder like this lady needs another massive head wound.
The premise of 3 Dimensions of Murder will be immediately familiar if you've played any of the previous CSI games. You're a new recruit in the Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigation unit. At the beginning of each case, you're given a crime scene and a cast member from the show to pair up with. They primarily act simply as a mouthpiece, given that you're the one doing all the investigating and evidence collecting. The cases presented in 3 Dimensions of Murder generally revolve around, of all things, murder. You'll find a dead woman on the floor of an art gallery, an apartment drenched in blood (but with no body to be found), and even a gunshot victim found on the floor of a demo booth at the fictional Las Vegas equivalent of E3.
In fact, the best part of 3 Dimensions of Murder is that it does go to some lengths to throw in some inside jokes about the video game industry--primarily in the specific case mentioned above. For example, marketing people talk about how great games that don't sell are failures, and weak games that do sell are winners; there are random digs at the proliferation of sex and violence in games (slightly ironic for an M-rated adventure); and there's even a fictional, canceled game series starring a cartoon duo that's highly reminiscent of Sam & Max.
However, there are two problems with all of this. One, the CSI games aren't targeted at the kind of hardcore players that would even begin to understand what any of these gags mean, and two, that case is the only one with any cleverness behind it. The rest of the cases travel the same roads of murderous intent that have been seen both in the show and in the previous CSI games, and it's not done with much flair or creativity.
If anything, the cases follow a pretty predictable path of logic. Although the evidence is never the same twice, the timeline for suspects is. There are always three suspects in any case, and eventually you'll get warrants to bring them all in. The third one you bring in is always the guilty party. Sometimes the game will loop back around and try to point you in the direction of other suspects, but it always comes back to that third suspect in the end. Before you start screaming about spoilers, the fact is that such a predictable line of storytelling is practically a spoiler in and of itself. Is it some kind of lame tie-in to the fact that it's the third Las Vegas game, and that there's a 3 in the title? Did someone actually think this was clever? Well, it's not, and it's the sort of thing you'll pick up on by the second or third case, whether or not you read this review.
On top of the case predictability, there's simply not too much that's interesting about any of them. The case in the not-E3 trade show is kind of amusing mostly because of the inside jokes, and there is an interesting conclusion to the case involving the blood-soaked apartment, but that's about it. The red herrings the developers try to give you don't do anything to throw you off the obvious conclusions about who did what for which reason. The last case in particular seems like a fairly desperate attempt to try to tie previous cases together into one big, grand finale, but it just feels labored and unnecessary. Plus, it's possible to break the continuity of the story flow from time to time. If you miss an obscure piece of evidence, sometimes the story will continue on, giving you details you won't have the set-up for without that piece of evidence. Once you go back and find that wayward piece of evidence, the set-up for that story bit will then come after you've already heard the next part, which is disjointed to say the least.
Dude, all we asked for was your name. Could you just shut the hell up?