What we call forensic science today traces its roots to 8th century China, where fingerprints were first used as identification marks. In the 1200s a Chinese book explained how to differentiate between drowning and strangulation as causes of death, and a few interesting criminal cases in Europe were solved by examining physical evidence. But it was not until the rise of modern police forces in Europe and North America during the late 1700s and early 1800s that forensic science began to develop in earnest.
Universities began teaching forensics in 1902 and full degrees were offered by the 1930s. In 1950 the American Academy of Forensic Science was organized in Chicago. But the public came to know and embrace forensic science largely through the fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes character molded the public imagination about how crimes should be investigated and resolved.
Two mid-70s TV movies named Crime Club failed to catch on despite casting many popular or up-and-coming stars. It would not be until CBS premiered CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2000 that a television drama based on forensic investigation would become successful, launching an entire franchise. The original CSI starred William Petersen as Gil Grissom, Marg Helgenberger as Catherine Willows, Gary Dourdan as Warrich Brown, George Eads as Nick Stokes, Paul Guilfoyle as Jim Brass, and Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders.
The show ran for 15 seasons and spawned three spinoffs: CSI: Miami (2002), CSI: NY (2004), and CSI: Cyber (2015).
The show also inspired several video games and a special CSI Club for students. International Game Technology (IGT) launched the CSI interactive video slot game series in 2012. Players choose from one of three shows for their game experience: CSI: Crime Scene Investiagtion, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY. The game was distributed to English, Spanish, and Chinese language markets.
This review is based on the online version of the game, which only includes the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation sub-game.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a 5 reel, 3 row video slot game with 20 selectable pay lines. The game pays prizes from left to right, except for Scatter wins, which only trigger a Free Spins game, and collection of Evidence. The tiles in this game are interactive. Clicking on any tile brings up its pay table entry for quick reference.
The game’s Wild symbol is a picture of George Eads (Nick Stokes). If the Wild can contribute to a winning prize it expands to fill the entire reel. The Wild symbol only appears on reels 2, 3, and 4 and it substitutes for all regular symbols in the game but not the Scatter, Crime Scene, Evidence, or Lock’n’Re-spin symbols.
The game’s Scatter symbol is the CSI logo. When three or more of these symbols appear anywhere on the screen they trigger a free spins feature. Three of a kind awards 5 free spins, four of a kind awards 10 free spins, and five of a kind awards 20 free spins.
Symbol activates an ongoing bonus when three or more of these symbols appear adjacent to each other. The Crime Scene combination does not have to appear on a pay line or start in the left-most reel.
Symbol only appears on reel 3. When at least one winning combination appears alongside the Lock’n’Re-spin symbol a special re-spin bonus feature is activated.
When any prize pays at least four times Bet Per Line the Big Win special animation is played.
The game’s highest value symbol. He pays 50 times bet per line for three of a kind, 500 times bet per line for four of a kind, and 5000 times bet per line for five of a kind.
Pays 25 times bet per line for three of a kind, 250 times bet per line for four of a kind, and 2500 times bet per line for five of a kind.
Pays 25 times bet per line for three of a kind, 150 times bet per line for four of a kind, and 1500 times bet per line for five of a kind.
Pays 20 times bet per line for three of a kind, 150 times bet per line for four of a kind, and 500 times bet per line for five of a kind.
The remaining regular symbols in the game, in order of descending value, are:
The special Evidence symbols for the Crime Scene Bonus are the Blood Spatter, the Bullet, the Shoeprint, and the Fiber.
The game uses streamlined controls to simplify play. There are four green buttons on either side of the playing reels area. These buttons activate 1, 5, 10, 15, or 20 pay lines.
Changing the number of active pay lines changes how the game accumulates evidence for the Crime Scene Bonus (see below for details).
There are two information widgets immediately below the playing reels: the Evidence progress bar and a message marquee. The Evidence progress bar collects camera symbols as you roll up evidence toward the bonus.
There are five controls and two information widgets lining the bottom of the screen.
The blue Paytable button activates the navigable help screen system. You exit these screens by clicking on the Spin button.
The three gold buttons are Auto, Bet Per Line, and Lines. Each of these buttons activates an expanding dialog menu from which you select the value you want to set. For example, you can choose from 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, and 100 automatic spins. Click on the Plus symbol to choose abort conditions for the auto spins. Click on the Minus tab to close the options menu. Click on Auto again to cancel out of the auto spins selection process.
Click on the Bet Per Line button to choose from
as the coin value to be wagered on each active pay line. Click on the button again to cancel changing this value.
Click on the Lines button to change the number of active pay lines. Click on the button again to cancel changing this value.
The Total Bet information widget shows you how much you will pay for each spin as a product of Bet Per Line times active Lines.
The Spin button doubles as a Stop button.
The image display widget to the right of the Spin button is only active during a bonus feature. When three or more Crime Scene Investigation symbols appear this widget becomes active and tracks your progress as you collect evidence. It also transforms to let you know when you are in the Free Spins feature or the Re-spin bonus.
When the Scatter symbol appears 3 or more times you win 5, 10, or 20 free spins. If the Crime Scene Bonus game is active all prizes are doubled during the free spins feature. You will see a “X2” indicator in the image widget to the right of the Spin button. The free spins feature can be retriggered.
The Crime Scene Bonus game enhances regular play. Unlike other slot games where you are presented with a different screen and the bonus play ends quickly, the Crime Scene bonus adds a special feature to your regular play and it may remain active for many spins.
When three or more Crime Scene symbols appear adjacent to each other starting on any reel, the bonus becomes activated for the current Bet Per Line and active Pay Lines. The game sets a prize that you’ll win if you collect all four pieces of evidence. The prize is determined by the Bet Per Line and the number of active Pay lines at the time you start the bonus game.
To collect evidence, three or more of a special evidence symbol must appear adjacent to each other on any reels. The Evidence progress bar is updated with a new camera symbol and the image widget to the right of the Spin button shows which piece of evidence was last collected.
The Crime Scene Bonus game is aborted if you exit the slot game or if it is triggered again. You may collect evidence for any combination of Bet Per Line and active Pay lines but you can only collect one bonus prize per game.
The Lock’n’Re-spin Bonus game begins when the special symbol appears on reel 3 with at least one winning combination of symbols on the screen. The winning combination is then locked in place and all other tiles are respun. You are paid a prize each time the locked symbol appears on one of the spinning reels. This bonus feature ends when no more symbols appear.
You must collect all four Evidence combinations to win the bonus game prize.
As slot games go CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is very innovative. The interactive tiles and the streamlined controls all allow for fast play with relatively few distractions. And yet some of the controls are complicated enough to satisfy the most detailed-oriented gamers.
The Crime Scene Bonus game is interesting if not quite unique. A few other slot games also have collection bonuses, but this one seems to be a little more forgiving than others.
The Lock’n’Re-Spin bonus game engenders a high expectation for winning a big prize, although it could easily finish out early.
The theoretical return to player is complicated and contrary to conventional wisdom. The game specifications describe three levels of RTP. The Crime Scene Bonus game has a theoretical return to player of 7.6% regardless how many pay lines are active. The Free Spins feature has a higher RTP for a single active pay line than for all 20 active pay lines. And the regular game play offers a varying theoretical return to player with the worst percentage for 5 active pay lines. Yes, you may have better luck playing 1 active pay line than playing 5. Go figure.
It is hard to say that the best theoretical return to player happens with 20 active pay lines. This game seems to try very hard to reward people for playing it.
Add to that the cool digital music used for sound effects and the in-tile animations and you’re not likely to be bored. The riffs are from the TV show’s soundtrack, which is famous for bringing in several major artists and enhancing the show’s presentation with pop songs. However, Miami Vice was the first crime drama to regularly feature pop music in the sound track. However, the slot game is really just using incidental sounds from transitions, such as when you return from commercial break or some important clue is revealed during the episode.
Fans of the show will appreciate the Crime Scene Bonus game to be sure. They’ll also look long and hard for those high paying combinations with Ted Danson and Marg Helgenberger. That’s not likely to happen but it would be interesting to see either of them fill up the screen on a Lock’n’Re-spin game. It could happen.
The game plays a smooth soundtrack of techno music that neither hides behind nor smothers the incidental sound used for the spinning reels. A lot of thought went into selecting the music and the sounds and you could almost get lost in thought just listening to the electronic melody. The voice over artist appears to be Dick Nieskens, who does a lot of voice over work for shows, commercials, and games.
Regardless of how much crime drama television you watch, you should give CSI: Crime Scene Investigation a spin as it is well worth a little bit of any slot gamer’s time.