Law & Order: Dead on the Money

Review

posted 3/21/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
I admit it, I’m a huge fan of the Law & Order television series. I can name every single district attorney, assistant district attorney and police officer to have ever appeared on the show. I’ve actually gotten into a two-hour argument with one of my friends over why Jack McCoy is twice the man that Ben Stone was. Knowing all of this, you’d expect me to eat up Law & Order: Dead on the Money, Legacy Interactive’s video game take on the show.

You thought wrong.

This is especially painful because the game has so much going for it. It features the likenesses and voices of cast members, Jerry Orbach, S Epatha Merkerson and Elizabeth Rohm, the story was written by a freelance writer who worked on the show so it promises to stay true to the TV show. But as an avid gamer, this game has little to no appeal to me. In order to fully enjoy this game I had to shutoff my brain, toss out everything I knew about video games and tackle it from a casual fan’s perspective. You know something? Maybe this game really isn’t that bad after all.

The game essentially plays like one big Quicktime VR production. It’s like Myst but instead of being on some strange deserted island you’re in the middle of downtown Manhattan. Before you begin you will be able to choose two aids to help you such as a magnifying class that highlights clues. As you may have guessed by now, the game runs entirely on a point-and-click interface.

The game basically boils down into one big Easter egg hunt except you’re looking for clues as opposed to eggs. It’s not like your traditional adventure game in that clues that are picked up may not be relative to the case at hand. In fact, I’d say that about 90% of the items you can pick up aren’t related to the case at all and will just yield false leads.

If you’ve seen Law & Order on television you will already know the basic layout of the game. Tight shot of some guy working on the park, he gives an exaggerated expression, camera pans out and you see the dead body. To further solidify the cliché associated with the series the body is found (where else?) in Central Park. That’s when you arrive on the scene alongside everyone’s favorite Detective, Lenny Briscoe. Working with Briscoe you’ll have to search for evidence, process it in the lab and then build up a case against a suspect.

After you’ve found your suspect and issued the proper arrest warrant you’ll assume the role of an ADA working alongside Serena Sutherland. While the detective portion of the game is pretty interesting (mainly because it keeps you guessing) I found the court-based portions to be the more entertaining of the two halves.
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