Law & Order: Justice is Served

Review

posted 11/23/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
My name is Charlie and I am a Law & Order fanatic. I admit it; I'm hooked on everything that comes from the brilliant mind of Dick Wolf. My girlfriend and I schedule our plans around all fifteen Law & Order shows and I've seen that horrible movie starring Chris Noth. I'm a certified fanatic and for me, the Legacy Interactive-developed adventure games have been another addictive entry in this long-running franchise. The previous two entries have been excellent entries and the third one looks to up the ante by adding in new gameplay elements and beefing up the graphics. In the end the game is a worthy addition to any adventure fan's library, even if they're not a fan of the television show.

Legacy's franchise goes out of its way to try to stay true to the formula set forth by the television show. It starts with the setup to a murder (why do trashmen always find dead bodies?) and asks the gamer to solve the mystery. Not all is as it seems and everyone you come in contact with is a suspect. I've enjoyed the storylines of the previous two L&O games but I felt that this third one was a bit lacking. The writer takes a stab at the high-stakes world of women's tennis and the ways that the undeserving players earn endorsements on the basis of their looks as opposed to their athletic ability. At the onset of the game, a Russian tennis player who bares a striking resemblance to Anna Kournikova is found dead in a locker room. As the story unfolds you'll learn a number of things about the victim including her overbearing mother, her relationship with a stalker who just happened to be present at the time of her murder and the fallout between herself and her former coach. Overall it has the makings of an excellent episode but it never quite pulls them together in a way where it keeps you guessing to the end.

It had a lot of traditional L&O elements in it, but it was also lacking most of the elements that make the television show so compelling. I lost interest about halfway through the game and the expected twist never occurred. Actually, the game plays out kind of like an episode of L&O: Criminal Intent in which you'll find your suspect and then spend the majority of the game figuring out how he committed the murder, not who committed the murder. While the game continues to build upon the motive up until the end, you already have enough to convict your perp within the first few hours of play. The other peripheral motives that you encounter as the game progresses will solidify your case, but aren’t crucial in leading to a conviction. They sort of feel thrown in, especially when the writers could have been focusing more on the mystery surrounding the murder and not the motive.

Law & Order is a franchise that prides itself on giving its viewers an accurate perspective on the life and trials of New York's finest peacekeepers. So it's a wonder that the game decided to take some liberties with the detective's investigative techniques. In more than one occasion you'll be required to utilize a piece of evidence in order to pursue your investigation. As an example there's a puzzle where the game will tell you that something is visible in the fireplace but you can't quite tell what it is. To solve it you'll need to use a mirror that you found at a suspect's apartment in order to get a better vantage point. Not only is this illogical (you could easily reach around or peer up the chimney) but it's also illegal. Detectives would never mishandle a piece of evidence because it could easily lead to a mistrial on the basis of evidence tampering. There are a couple of other unscrupulous incidents in the game like this that really ruin the experience.

As is the case with the past two games, Justice is Served is a point and click adventure game in the same vein as the Adventure Company games. Save for a few sequences, the game is always played from a static first person perspective of which you click on objects to examine them. It's not of the moving postcard variety like the original Myst though, there's always plenty to do and the world isn't as lifeless and empty. A 2D adventure game in the same fashion of The Longest Journey probably would have worked better, but since the aim is to place the gamer in the game, it works out well in the end.
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