Law & Order: Justice is Served
Score: 7.0 / 10
Games based on movies and television shows have been notoriously bad in the past, with a few gems scattered here and there. Recently though, things have been improving. In this case we have Law and Order, a show that lends itself perfectly to the style of the mystery adventure game. In this, the third game based on the Law and Order series, we have a murder of a young rising tennis star in the female circuit. By the end of the game, you will have your answers and it will feel as if you have just watched an episode of the show. For those who don't like the show, you likely shouldn't bother as the game succeeds in becoming an interactive Law and Order episode.
mechanics of the game are simple and are basically broken down into a
questioning portion, a free search portion, as well as various puzzles.
In the free search portion, you basically move your cursor around the
area you are in to look in any direction. When something is highlighted
you can pick it up or look at it. Evidence you pick up is placed into an
inventory. When returning to the police station you can submit evidence
for further analysis from the crime lab, or perform further basic
research on it. Areas you can visit are marked on a map which you can
access from the interface. People you can speak to are also noted on the
same map. When speaking to someone, if you learn about new information
leading to a new person to talk to or a new area to investigate, it will
be newly added to your map. Also, people you speak to are added to your
person spoken to list and they can be submitted at the police station
for further research, a psychological profile, and for surveillance.
speaking to someone you select from a set of questions. You can only
select to speak to those people in those areas designated on your map.
There are some questions to which your subject will only give a short
one sentence answer. However, in each case there is a fixed set of
questions that you must ask in order to question somebody. When you have
exhausted these, there will be no more questions to ask. Also, you may
drag evidence, people you have spoken or evidence reports from your
inventory to ask your subject about them. At times, this can open a new
line of questioning which furthers the plot and story of the game. The
questioning portion of the game doesn't really represent much of a
challenge as you can easily tell which questions are the irrelevant ones
by the answers you get. It's basically all trial and error and can be
done without much thought.
Some would argue that police investigation is all about being thorough but in any case the game does a good job of following such a philosophy. The game's progression basically hinges on your ability to uncover new areas to visit and new people to speak to. Many times, in order to do so, you must submit the right piece of evidence for review, or survey the right individual. In other cases it is dependent on the piece of evidence that you ask your questioning subject about. To request a report, you need to go to the police station and drag the item or person from your inventory into a folder on your desk. Then after you visit, one other area, you will receive a voice mail on your cel phone in the game, which can also be accessed from your inventory. Upon receiving that message you can go to the crime lab,
back to the police
station, or to the psychiatrist to receive the requested report. While I
enjoyed the micromanagement aspect of filing requests for reports I can
see how it would drive
some gamers crazy. Additionally, if you forget to file a request for a
report for someone or something, this could prevent you from progressing
in the game. There were times when I was stuck and couldn't figure out
what to do next. In these times, it was almost certain that there was a
report that I was missing.
The game doesn't make it too difficult to progress throughout the story if you are thorough as there is little thought that must go into uncovering the mystery. The greatest challenge and a great deal of the "gaming" entertainment come from the various puzzles. For the most part, they are easily solved with a little bit of thought and are not so difficult as to cause frustration which is always good in my books.
certain points in the game, you will need to submit your collected
evidence to the District Attorney to obtain a subpoena, or to a judge to
get a search or arrest warrant. This is again done by dragging items
from your inventory into a folder. If you are unsure about whether or
not you can get a warrant you can phone your lieutenant and they will
provide a stock answer as to whether or not you can submit your evidence
to progress in the game. This is a nice way to keep the game moving when
it is uncertain as to whether or not you can move forward. The game is
split up into two major parts; the investigation of the case and the
trial of the case. In the latter portion, there is still some detective
work and story to follow, but a large part will be made up of the trial.
During the trial, you will be questioning your witnesses as in a case,
however if you pick the wrong question, the defense will object.
Likewise, when the defense is questioning the witness, you can also
object if they are doing something they shouldn't be. The production
values of the game are quite good with the actual actors from the show
in the game. Also, the graphics serve the visual department more than
adequately. The length of the game is dependent on how often you get
stuck and how long it takes you to find out the one thing you may have
missed, but in most cases it should take about 7 to 10 hours to
The designers seem to have been going for a game that would be closer to an interactive episode of the show rather than a proper video game. Aside from the puzzles portion of the game, there is little else that can really be called a "game." However, fans of the show likely won't mind as I didn't. The story is interesting enough to keep you playing through and the puzzles are enough to give the game a bit of variety.
- Mark Leung
(February 21, 2005)
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