iPad App Review: NCIS

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: September 14, 2010

Who else out there is a crime show fanatic? I know I'm not alone when I say that NCIS is one of the best out there to watch. I'm pleased to say that a NCIS game has finally made its way to the iPhone and iPad. When I first heard of it, I thought it was a brilliant idea, though I wasn't sure how exactly the gameplay would be carried out. I figured it would either be way too easy and become boring very quickly, or it be too hard and also become boring. Upon playing the first level, I revoked my initial response to the game and say it is right down the middle of the road. It makes you think a little in finding the clues, but after you get a feel for it, the game gets a lot easier.

You are the NCIS crew investigating various crime scenes. The gameplay dialog is very familiar as it was written by the cast itself to give it an authentic feel. When you launch the first level you know exactly what to do. The scene is set in a common, damp, dark basement and you have to find clues that help you catch the murderer. The clues you find lead you to the lab or to a related location to find more information, just like the show. Once you get enough information you take the suspect in for interrogation. The information you get out of the suspect is based on your approach. You have three different approaches you can take, friendly, neutral, and aggressive. If you choose the right approach, you will push the suspect to the breaking point, and choosing the wrong approach gets you further from where you want to be. It's a little difficult to judge what approach to take, but after you try one or two you get the feel for it. This also changes from level to level from what I've noticed. Interviewing a scared or hurt person is a little different. You have to create a sense of comfort and lessen their hostility.

Each clue you find will take you to a different place and a different suspect. The very first level, I found it a little hard to find one of the clues, but you can turn on hints to help you if you get stuck for a short amount of time. I used the hint once to find a clue as I had scanned over everything in the room multiple times. It turned out to be something I thought I had already tried to point out. What's unique about this game is that you aren't just searching for clues the entire time, you play every role of the NCIS team. You investigate, you process clues and findings in the lab, you interrogate suspects, and participate in stake-outs. I'm sure there is much more to it and more mini-roles like the stake-outs, but I haven't finished the game yet.

Once you complete a level, you are scored on how many times you get something wrong. For instance, if you're interrogating a suspect and use the wrong approach and the Breaking Point meter goes down, that counts against your overall score. The goal is to earn a gold badge, which I'm not sure how to get yet. I don't know if it requires 100% or if you just have to get over a certain percentage, but I assume it's 100%. The down side to this game is I feel it may get repetitive after the first few levels. I'm on level two now, and while it's completely different, even the show gets to be monotonous at times, every crime show does, but we still watch them, just like I will still play this game.

At times, the game did feel a little cheesy and like nothing I think I would play out in public, but if I'm sitting at home with nothing else to do (which happens very seldom), this game is great. The second negative to the NICS game is that it is $5.99 for the iPad, but overall seems pretty short in comparison to something like Angry Birds HD ($4.99) that has four episodes with two or three levels within, that consist of twenty-one sub-levels each. In other words, Angry Birds has a large amount of levels, the NCIS game has five. However, the NCIS levels do take a while to complete. The badge scoring system does promote some ability of replay, but I imagine the game will get very boring the second and third time around. Anyway, NCIS is a great game and well worth the six bucks it will set you back for the iPad. You can find more on the NCIS game for iPad here. I have enjoyed what I have played of it so far, and would definitely recommend it to all of you crime show fiends with an iPad.

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