Law & Order II: Double or Nothing

Review

posted 10/14/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: PC
So you want to step into the shoes of a New York City detective? Not enough? You want to put the bad guys away too? Then you’ll want to check out Legacy Interactive’s Law & Order II: Double or Nothing, an interactive adventure game that lets you place yourself into one of TV’s most popular dramas.

This comes on the heels of Law & Order: Dead on the Money, a surprisingly good adventure game that starred the likeness and vocal talents of Detective Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach), ADA Serena Southerlyn (Elizabeth Rohm) and Lt. Van Buren (S. Epatha Erickson). All three are back for the ride as is the same graphical and gameplay style. In fact most of the elements from the first gave have been re-used including the inventory system and a few of the locales. New changes include the removal of the annoying time limit, more space for the inventory and the ability to redo any interview until the outcome is to your liking.

Also new is the storyline which has ties to the biological engineering community. We don’t want to spoil anything but the basic intro to the story is that you’ll find a murdered man in his high-priced automobile. Later on you’ll discover that he has ties to biological engineering and this simple open and shut murder case is much deeper than you could have ever imagined. Starting off, you’ll play the role of a NYPD detective as you travel around the city and put the pieces of the case together. After you’ve interviewed enough witnesses and found enough key evidence you’ll be able to issue an arrest warrant to the individual who committed the murder.

Since the game mimics the TV show the second half of it takes place entirely in the court room. You’ll bring up evidence, call up witnesses and ask them questions in hopes of bringing back a murder verdict from the jury. Those who played the first game may be happy to know that the designers now allow for more time to object to testimony. Now you won’t need to have lighting quick reflexes in order to prevent the defense from overstepping its bounds.

As a game it still has the same plusses and minuses as the original. The story was written by a real Law & Order writer so it definitely retains the true feel and atmosphere of the show. Most of the locales seem realistic enough as does the circumstances revolving the murder. In most circumstances you can really believe that all of this is actually happening and never do you find yourself questioning the plausibility of a person’s actions. Thus the game retains a highly realistic feel that you would expect to see not only on TV, but also in real life.

But there are problems with Double or Nothing as well. It has a linear storyline so the game is exactly the same no matter how many times you play through it. You can choose the order in which the elements come together but when it boils down to it it’s still the exact same storyline and outcome. It’s also rather short and can be beaten in less than five hours. This may seem long to someone who may be a casual fan of the show but gamers won’t be satisfied with such a short adventure. It needs more and a branching storyline where differing circumstances happen as a result of your actions would have gone a long way towards adding more life to the game.

The point and click interface also makes the game a bit too easy. Whenever you can pick something up the cursor will change to a magnifying glass. Most of the time solving a case boils down to you just running the mouse back and forth across the screen until you see a magnifying glass. Sure the designers threw in a few misleading clues here and there but it’s pretty easy to deduce that a receipt for an eatery has absolutely nothing to do with the murder case. In the end the game is very simple which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but may be disappointing for someone who’s looking for a real challenge.

If you’re an avid L&O fan then you should not hesitate to pick up Double or Nothing. It successfully recreates the look and feel of the TV show but instead of being a bystander you’re given a pivotal role in the action. However, if you’re just a fan of adventure games you may want to give this one a pass. Its simple gameplay mechanics and linear storyline probably won’t satisfy you in the same manner that a game like Syberia can.



C-
Basically it’s more of the same, so if you enjoyed the previous L&O adventure you’ll have a blast with this one.


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