CSI: Dark Motives Hands-On

We sift through the evidence of this upcoming DS game based on the hit CBS series.


The number of crime scene investigators in Las Vegas has grown by one in the upcoming CSI: Dark Motives, a crime-solving puzzle game for the Nintendo DS that looks to re-create the themes and techniques used on the hugely popular CBS television show. The game is based on the PC version of the same name and recently, we stepped into the shoes of a CSI expert for a quick look at the game to see if we could bring the bad guys to justice.

A CSI agent's most useful tool? The touchscreen and stylus.
A CSI agent's most useful tool? The touchscreen and stylus.

In Dark Motives, you'll play as a new CSI hired by Dr. Gil Grissom to help tackle the night shift at Las Vegas' CSI lab, one of the busiest such facilities in the entire nation. After a quick pep talk from Dr. G, you'll receive an introduction to your partner for the game's first case, Catherine Willows. At any point, you'll be able to go to your partner for hints as you progress through a case; however, the more you ask for her assistance, the lower your final grade will be once Grissom reviews your case performance.

Your first assignment in Dark Motives will be to uncover the mystery of a televised motorcycle stunt gone wrong...almost fatally so. Though the stuntman who performed the jump for a reality show lived through the crash that followed, he's still more than a little perturbed about what went wrong. As you investigate the circumstances, you'll go through the same procedures from the CSI show: questioning suspects, collecting evidence, and analyzing the data. These steps will take you across multiple locations in Vegas--from the site of the accident and the promotional offices connected to the reality show that aired the stunt to a motorcycle shop in town that may or may not have had something to do with the tampering of the bike.

Your interface for all of these tasks is, naturally, the combination of the DS's touch screen and your stylus. When investigating a location for evidence, you can move the stylus over the screen and areas of interest will turn the normally blue arrow icon green. From there, you can use any of the collection or detection tools in your CSI goody bag to do such things as dust for fingerprints or, in the case of the motorcycle stunt case, lift tire tread markings off of asphalt. In the case of the motorcycle accident, you'll also investigate the bike itself, as a few pieces of the wrecked bike might be useful in putting together your case.

While evidence collecting has its moments of tedium, there's more to Dark Motives than pixel hunting. With your evidence collected, you can head back to the crime lab and put your fancy gadgets to work for you. For example, you can confirm fingerprint matches, analyze data disks for encrypted e-mail, identify liquid samples, and more. As you build up evidence, you build a case file on the multiple players in each case, which you can access at any time by scrolling through with the left and right triggers.

Technology can only take you so far; sooner or later you'll need your own brainpower to solve the crime.
Technology can only take you so far; sooner or later you'll need your own brainpower to solve the crime.

As your case improves, you'll eventually be able to request a warrant from your friends at the police station, which you can then use to search areas that were previously off limits. With a warrant, the sequence of events continues: ask more questions, gather more evidence, wash, rinse, and repeat. With all of your high-tech tools and a little deductive reasoning on your part, you'll soon have enough evidence to nail the person responsible for tampering with the motorcycle. With that case closed, it will be time to move on to the four cases that make up Dark Motives' gameplay. And presumably, each will be successively more difficult than the last.

There's little doubt that Dark Motives is going to have rather limited appeal. Fans of the show and those who prefer methodical games that test your powers of observation are the most obvious candidates. For the CSI faithful, the game's presentation hark back to the television show, including video crime scene re-creations played on the DS's upper screen that are definitely reminiscent of the show. Budding investigators should clean their eyepiece and monitor their objective lens for the game's release later this month.

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