reviews\ Feb 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Law & Order Legacies (PC) Review


Telltale Games is back, and this time they are taking one one of the most recognized television franchises of all time, Law & Order, and bringing it to PC gamers.  Never one to shy away from the difficulties of taking a well-known franchise and turning it into a video game, Telltale Games has developed for iconic franchises like Back to the Future and Jurassic Park.

In their most recent production, they tackled NBC's Emmy-winning Law & Order TV series.  Now, those familiar with the Law & Order franchise know there are dozens of spinoff series like Criminal Intent, Los Angeles, and my personal favorite Special Victims Unit (SVU).  Telltale Games' Law & Order: Legacies takes some of the iconic characters from each of these spinoffs and brings them together in a tightly woven seven episode video game series - of which the first three episodes are now available.

Law and Order: Legacies includes characters like Rey Curtis, Lennie Briscoe, Jack McCoy, and the very lovely Olivia Benson.  Now, if you've ever played a Telltale Game then you're probably familiar with the fact that their games aren't the most realistic looking.  Law & Order Legacies is no different as the character models do resemble the faces you see on TV, but in a very stylized way to them.  It creates a sort of graphic novel feel to the game.  Aside from the extra pounds tacked on to Olivia Benson, the characters are still very recognizable.

Unfortunately, the characters aren't voiced over by the original actors which means those familiar with the series might be taken aback at first.  With that being said, the actors do a well-enough job to help you easily forget it's not the original actors.  There are times however where the sound cuts in and out, sometimes making it difficult to hear what is being said.  It sometimes sounds like an audio filter is being applied, creating sort of a hallway effect.  This only lasts for a brief time and then adjusts itself.

The game presents itself like an episode you'd watch on television.  Mirroring the show, each episode in the game shows a brief intro introducing the victim before cutting into the classic/cheesy theme song.  It even has the iconic *dun*, *dun*.  From there, it introduces the detectives on the case.  The investigating detectives depends on the type of murder and what was involved.  For instance, the first case involves a sexually-based murder which has Olivia Benson from SVU on the case.

Law & Order: Legacies isn't a free-exploring investigative game per say - which may disappoint some of you looking for more of a challenge.  Instead, it places you at the time and place you need to be at automatically, with no freedom to deviate from the course.  To put it simply, you don't need to be a gamer to enjoy the game.  In fact, all you need to be is a fan of the show to enjoy it.  Similar to the TV series, each episode delves a little into the background of each character, intertwining the case with their personal lives.  Obviously, fans of the show will have a better understanding then someone like me who only really watches SVU.

The game effectively plays out more like an interactive episode, guiding you through various sections leading up to the trial.  At first you will scan the crime scene.  Using point-and-click mechanics your goal is the investigate everything by circling objects to be analyzed.

As you gather evidence, you are then tasked with questioning suspects and witnesses.  When at their homes or at the crime scene you are given a list of topics to ask about.  Some pertain to the actual case, while others are just red herrings - which you are awarded for when discovering.  After questioning them, you must then decide whether their alibi checks out, or if they are lying.  You must pay particular attention to what they say and what you already know because once confronting them, you must use a presented list of statements to prove or disprove the witness.

Each section has a required number of stars you must reach before getting to the next portion of the episode.  Answer correctly and you get a star.  Answer incorrectly (wrongly accusing them, believing a lie, or presenting the wrong argument) and you are hit with a strike.  If you get three strikes you must restart the interrogation -  a process that can get tedious if done enough.  But in all honesty, you shouldn't have too difficult of a time.

Similar to the show, after you make an arrest you are tasked with becoming the DA and trying the case in court.  Welcome to the Order part of the game.  This is the part that I found most difficult (turns out, I'm a terrible judge of moral character).

In this portion of the game you question the witnesses, going through a similar list of topics and presenting evidence and proving/disproving their statements.  This part doesn't rely on a strike system, however.  Rather, you must sway the jury's opinion to side with you.  Present the right case and the bar will move towards your side.  It's much easier said than done.

After questioning the witness, it is then the defendant attorney's chance.  At this point, it is up to you to object to various statements.  Things like leading or badgering the witness are things that must be objected to.  Just don't go making a false accusation or that will quickly turn the jury in favor of the defense.

When it's all said and done, the two sides will meet and attempt to work out a plea bargain.  The more the jury is on your side, the harsher the sentence you can demand.  If you've handled the case poorly, expect a weaker sentence.

Law & Order: Legacies is a must-play for fans of the series.  Those without knowledge of the show might have a harder time relating to the characters; but, at the end of the day, if you are a fan of detective/point and click adventure games then this is a great one.  Legacies is meant to be a good time for those looking for another way to enjoy a very successful series.  It won't punish you for "losing".  Get three strikes and just restart the mission.  No fuss, no mess (aside from the bloody murders), just fun.

Telltale Games does a fantastic job of recreating the Law & Order universe and making it accessible to people who may never have played video games before.  While more advanced gamers may be disappointed with the lack of options, Law & Order Legacies isn't meant to challenge the casual gamer and fans of the series.  Instead, this game provides a whole different way of experiencing Law & Order.  It's meant to be an accurate representation and recreation of the successful franchise in a form that let's people assume the role of their favorite characters and experience the episodes unfolding, rather than watching them on television.


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