sometimes to take a TV show and make it into to a successful game. Many have
tried but few have succeeded. For years it was a given that if a game was based
on a TV show or a movie it was usually crap. But the game industry has changed
over the past few years and gamers are now being treated with decent games based
on TV shows or movies. Some are successful, while other are not but there never
seems to be a shortage of games being released based on TV shows or movies. I
guess the Law & Order games have been successful because this is the third game
released that is based on the TV show. If Law & Order: Justice is Served is an
indication then gamers and fans of show can look forward to a long series of Law
& Order games.
For those that
have never watched the TV show, Law & Order it is a criminal investigation show
that revolves around two different segments. The first part of the show centers
on the crime and the investigation into the crime, such as determining whom the
prime suspect for the crime is. The second part of the show focuses on the
court case and trying to convict the prime suspect of the charges. The game
follows the same format as the show, where you spend the first part of the game
investigating the crime. The second part of the game is spent in the courtroom
trying to convict the primary suspect of the crime. For someone that has never
played the previous Law & Order games or someone just curious about the game I
would compare it to a point and click game (such as Myst) but with a criminal
The story of Law &
Order: Justice is Served centers on a female tennis player Elena Kusarova.
Elena was turning into a blossoming star within the world of tennis, with a
modeling career and a large endorsement deal in the works. But tragedy struck
Elena when she was found dead right before the start of the U.S. Open. You
assume the role of Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green to investigate Elena’s death.
You will interview everyone from Elena’s tennis coach to her long (and presumed
dead) father. Along the way you will have to solve puzzles and piece together
evidence that links the murder to one person. Once enough evidence has been put
together then you assume the role of Serena Southerlyn and try to convict the
guilty person of the crime.
Fans of the TV
show will probably enjoy the game more than anyone else. It uses the same
actors as the TV show and it plays out almost exactly the same as the TV show.
But gamers looking for a solid and entertaining mystery game will find Law &
Order to be a well-rounded title. This isn’t an immersive type of game where
you will spend hours upon hours looking over details and clues. It offers what
games are supposed to do, an entertaining time that will still challenge you
mentally. It’s not a hard core point and click adventure game but it’s an
entertaining title that will probably lead to more Law & Order games.
Review Scoring Details
earlier that the game plays out almost the same as the TV show. You have a
crime, witnesses, suspects and clues revolving around the crime. So how does
the game actually play out? Well I would compare it to a point and click
adventure game (such as Myst). When interviewing a witness or a suspect you
have a list of questions that can be asked. Each question results in a
different response from the witness or suspect. Depending on the answers to
the questions, additional questions become available that can lead to more
information about Elena’s death. So you simply click on a question and then
wait for the computers answer. Most of the witnesses or suspects will provide
you with the necessary information if you ask them all of the questions.
But just answering
questions isn’t everything, you’re also looking for clues or items to help
answer Elena’s death. Each area is presented in a 360-degree view that allows
you to look everywhere within each area. If you come across an item that you
can view, the game’s cursor will change to a magnifying glass. Once you’ve
clicked on the item, you’re then presented with an up close view of the item.
If you can pick up the item the cursor will change to a hand shape that allows
you to place the item in your inventory. You can then perform several tasks
with the clues you’ve discovered, such as questioning suspects about the items
or submitting the items to research or the crime lab for further investigation.
Once the crime lab and/or research has completed their results you can then use
the items later on for more questioning or to file a search warrant for the
The first part of
the game revolves around you questioning different suspects and collecting items
for research. Once you’ve collected enough evidence you can then request a
search warrant for a particular suspects house. Depending on the evidence
discovered at the suspects house you will either need to continue investigating
or take the next step and request an arrest warrant. If you have enough
evidence collected for an arrest warrant then the game will change to the next
part which is the District Attorney’s court case against the suspect. Once
you’ve collected enough evidence and have the necessary witnesses you can then
go to trial and plead your case to the judge regarding the crime (Elena’s
All of this sounds
easy and for the majority of the game it’s very simple. Ask all of the
questions the game gives you and search every area for as much evidence as
possible. Once you’ve collected evidence submit it to the research unit and the
crime lab for further investigation. Depending on the results from research,
the crime lab and questioning from the suspects will help you determine whom the
primary suspect for Elena’s murder. All of this is done with out a hitch by
simply point and clicking on the evidence and the questions. The game even
includes puzzles that you will need to solve to unlock particular pieces of
evidence. Most of the puzzles were fairly easy and straightforward.
Now getting the
proper information ready for a search warrant and arrest warrant will probably
frustrate some gamers. If you don’t have the right information ready then you
won’t get the search or arrest warrant. The game tries to offer some help by
telling you how many items are correct but it doesn’t tell you which items are
right or wrong. So what you might think is a necessary item for a search
warrant could be meaningless. I had a rough time getting figuring out what
information I needed to include for the arrest warrant. I found out that even
though I included what was a necessary item, I didn’t include the proper version
of the item. I will give everyone a hint; you don’t need the research results
for the will. Some gamers might be turned away by the fact that there isn’t
much personal interaction within the game. It’s not your character that you’re
playing; it’s Lennie Briscoe, Ed Green or Serena Southerlyn. But for Law &
Order fans this is part of the appeal but for others it could be a distraction.
The characters in
the game were modeled after the real actors so everyone looks very similar to
their television counterpart. But this is also a distraction from time to
time. The characters look very strange with the face models looking contorted
on some occasions. The best description I can provide is to think how the
Simpson’s look when presented in a 3D video game and this is how some of the
characters look in Law & Order. Even though the same actors were used for the
game, parts of the game makes the actors look downright nasty.
The rest of the
game looks good but nothing that will have Doom 3 fans questioning themselves.
Each area is presented with some nice textures and moderately detailed
graphics. All of the characters in the game are 3D models with passably
detailed graphics. Some of the characters (especially the Law & Order actors)
looked much better than the other characters within the game with cleaner
textures and detail. The lip synching animation looked a little strange on some
of the characters but especially on the Law & Order actors. Even though the
game was presented in a 3D view you still had some 2D parts that would occur
frequently, which is common with most point and click adventure/mystery games.
It’s always a
welcomed addition to games based on TV shows or movies to have the original
actors voicing their parts. Luckily for gamers the same actors on the TV show
voiced their parts for the Law & Order game. Most of the dialog was very well
done and it models the show very closely with same type of snippiness and
attitude. The majority of the voice acting was crystal clear and sounded
great. But, I did notice an occasional hiss on some of the voice over work for
the suspects within the game. The game even includes the original music from
the TV show as well. The biggest issue I had with the sound & music during the
game was the same phrases being repeated over and over again by the people you
interview. If you’re not on the right track with your questioning be prepared
to hear the same responses repeatedly from the suspects. Be prepared!
evidence and questioning the suspects wasn’t that difficult during the game.
The game would almost show you that you were on the right path when a suspect
would start talking about something instead of giving you a simply yes or no
answer. If a piece of research was important then it became part of your
evidence but if it wasn’t it didn’t matter. This is same with the results back
from the lab, if it’s important then you can keep it. The biggest challenge
will be putting together the warrants and know the right questions to ask during
the court case. These two factors would sometimes slow down the flow of the
game and left me banging my head a couple of times.
This isn’t the
first Law & Order game, this is the third. This isn’t the first point and click
adventure/mystery game that’s been released. And, this isn’t the first game to
use the same voice actors that star in the show/movie the game is based on.
Even though Law & Order: Justice is Served isn’t an entirely fresh concept it
still is an entertaining game. It presents you with almost two different games,
one being the criminal investigation portion and the other being the trial
proceedings. Each is similar to the other but different enough to keep you on
your toes (or fingertips).
Law & Order:
Justice is Served is a solid and entertaining game that will sure to please
gamers. The solid presentation, excellent voice acting, easy to use controls
and original story line will have Law & Order fans looking to overrule all
objections. However the repetitive responses to questions, questionable warrant
system and lack of personalization might have other gamers looking to overturn
the jury’s verdict. I closing I would say that if you enjoy the show or enjoy
point and click adventure games (and you know who you are) then Law & Order:
Justice is Served is a no-brainer. But if you want a little bit more out of
your mystery games, or you just can stand the thought of pointing and clicking
then this might not be the game for you.