**As published in digiday:DAILY** Publisher: RealNetworks, Inc. Price: $5 Platform: iOS Advertising: None Functionality: A Fun Factor: B Overall: B NCIS, a game based on the TV series, is fresh off the App Store shelves so to speak, having been released just after the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Like any good mobile extension of a TV show property, NCIS features characters from the show and tries to bring that at-home or living-room experience to the iPhone with a new game. NCIS mixes the crime-scene and detective work that millions expect every week from the show with a game that’s much more like the experience that viewers probably get when watching the show. This app is much more of a mind game than a hardcore action-type game. Users will photograph crime scenes, collect evidence and pursue a variety of interviewing tactics to try to solve cases in a fashion and style that matches the show. Clues are regularly introduced by show characters as you survey the scene and try to find each and every missing link in the storyline. The game is easy to dive into with options to continue saved games, start a new game or tweak the options that range from sound to vibrations and a series of tutorials. As for the game play portion of the app, there are five episodes: “Date with Death,” “Punishment and Crime,” “Phone Tag,” “Back in the Mix, Part 1” and “Back in the Mix, Part 2.” Unfortunately, I got stuck in the first episode, so I got impatient and jumped into the next episode to try something else. Things went a little more smooth as I ventured on, but the game play felt a little too dense for my mobile tastes. I’m not particularly interested in reading when I’m picking up my mobile phone to play a game, so I grew tired of the character dialogue and some of the clues that were offered by them along the way. I prefer more variety and instant gratification from my mobile games, but I can also see how NCIS might have a longer shelf life because of its more dense in-depth approach that combines storytelling with gaming. I just expected more traditional gaming from this app. It would also be cool to see the app do more to incorporate the actual show, perhaps in the form of audience engagement, clues hidden within the show or whatever else the show’s writers and app’s developers can come up with. I expect NCIS’ biggest draw to come from the audience of the TV show. For those that watch the show and would like to fancy themselves as a detective in the likeness of one of their favorite characters, NCIS might be worth their $5 but I have a hard time recommending this app for the casual fan, iPhone user or gamer.