A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that NCIS is based on the television drama of the same name and as a result, you can expect similar visuals and dialogue -- and thus the teen rating. You will see corpses, blood, and scenes of violence as you piece together what the criminals did. Because it's a game, you also partake in the story by photographing scenes, analyzing bullet holes, and corpses, and such. Along with some violence and blood, there are also a few sexual references in the dialogue sequences.
What's it about?
Based on the popular television drama of the same name, NCIS (which stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service) is an adventure game for multiple platforms that has you playing as your favorite characters from the TV show. Travel the world (from Dubai to Atlantic City), look for clues, and solve four different cases -- which may all be related in some fashion. The game was penned by writers from the hit television show. As you'd expect from a licensed game, you can assume the role of investigative agents Ziva David and Tony DiNozzo, use forensic science as Abby Sciuto, interrogate suspects as Gibbs, use satellite tracking as McGee, and perform autopsies as Ducky Mallard. Celebrity voice talent was provided by David McCallum and Robert Wagner.
Gameplay involves combing a scene for evidence, using tools to analyze it, grilling suspects on what they know, and playing mini-games.
Is it any good?
Unless you're a very casual gamer without high expectations and are a huge fan of the show, steer clear of NCIS. Between the simple and childish gameplay mechanics (looking for hidden objects, yawn, or playing silly mini-games when it comes to "forensic analysis"), a camera that restricts your view of the action, cookie cutter storylines (each of which can be solved in under an hour), and poor production quality (including subpar graphics and sloppy animation), NCIS should be left in the bargain bin.
While you get to rub elbows with the stars, don't expect A-list voice talent, such as Mark Harmon as Jethro Gibbs (instead, it's a bad sound-alike), plus Robert Wagner and David McCallum barely say anything in the game, which is odd. Overall, NCIS isn't a very good game by any standards. It feels like a blatant marketing attempt by CBS and/or Ubisoft to cash in on the show's success without thinking about making it a compelling standalone product for casual or core gamers. Note: All versions of the game play the same.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why movie- and TV show-based video games are usually subpar interactive experiences. Why do some (read: few) companies get it right while most get it wrong? Are games like this purely money-making "merchandise" to the creators or do they see this as an exciting extension of the initial (non-interactive) property?
How would you make a better NCIS game?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: November 29, 2011
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.