Law & Order III: Justice Is Served
Review by Old Rooster
"Looks Like Somebody Broke Her Serve ... For Good"
Ah, Lennie, we've missed you this season on the finest of all T.V.
police drama shows. Your verbal "serves" and "returns"
were always sure to make the point, even if they sometimes were
a bit foul. Well, for the third consecutive year, the good folks
at Legacy Interactive have included you in their gamefrom
the colorful and "dead on" script given you by Suzanne
Oshry, to your pretty accurate visage (without wrinkles), to your
unique voice acting contribution. The show may not have Lennie this
fall, but the game sure does!
Elena Kusarova seems to have it all. She's a young and attractive
tennis pro who is popular with fans, sought after by advertisers.
A major tournament is upcoming, and Elena has been seriously preparing.
Unfortunately, there's a bit of a problem; because although she's
beautiful, rich and athletic ... she's also dead!
Thus begins this third in the series of Law & Order games.
More people watch the 30+ original Law & Order episodes,
reruns and spin-offs each week than watched any of the presidential
debates! Legacy has found a market of thoughtful, intelligent and
loyal series fans (cough, cough).
Improvements are significant with this third iteration of what
I hope will be an annual event. Fortunately, Legacy has realized
that the writing and storyline are of paramount importance and has
brought back Ms. Oshry, the author of Dead
on the Money, to create the longest and most involved
drama of the three. Indeed, in addition to a 500-page script (versus
the 300 pages of Episode
II), we also find 30 locations versus 22, 40 speaking characters
versus 30, twice as many puzzles, an improved interface, and greatly
"JerseyMy Favorite Place Not to Visit" Lennie
As with the previous games and the show, your center of activity
is New York City. Accordingly, you'll have a map that will initially
show basic locationsscene of the crime, your precinct, M.E.'s
officeand increasingly fill up with other needed visitations,
even off the map to such dreadful places as New Jersey!
Your job, as the player, is to assist Lennie (voiced wonderfully
by Jerry Orbach) and Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin), working from the
initial visit to the crime scene, all the way to the point where
you have enough evidence to get an arrest warrant that will stick.
You'll collect items for inspection and analysis, organize them
into foldersLab, Research, Surveillance, Psych Evaluationand
make the occasional submission of a blood sample or DNA swab, as
examples, to your lab technician. As a nice twist in this regard,
you have to travel to your office for the submission and then wait
a bit, while performing other tasks and travels (interviews, etc.),
for the results, returning back to pick them up. This adds realism,
suggesting the often-pedestrian and routinized way in which detectives
must really function. You do have a cell phone, with voice mail,
and the option of getting some basic advice from your lieutenant.
Movement is point-and-click, with a "live arrow" showing
your transport potential to the next scene. Within that view, you
can rotate 360 degrees, with the cursor changing to show hot spots
or conversational opportunities. Pixel-hunting is at a minimum,
with objects to be examined or acquired readily viewable. The interface
is more logical and less obtrusive than before, and it works very
efficiently, being accessed with a right click of the mouse. Saves
can be done at any point.
As to advice and guidance, there is no difficulty setting. Also,
unlike the previous titles in the series, you don't choose particular
helping skills, such as "investigation" or "interviewing,"
to give you an edge. Rather, you'll find you don't even need the
manual on the CD, but can move along very nicely with the ongoing
hint system and the essential linearity of the game.
Stiffed at the Morgue
I'd rather be a detective than a prosecutor. You spend about half
the game with each area, much like the T.V. show. D.A. Serena Southerlyn
(voiced flatly by Elisabeth Rohm) gives you guidance, as does a
law guide on the CD. It's an okay experience, done well, with preparations,
objections, sharp questions, and the need to get things exactly
right. But the real fun and entertainment comes with meeting all
of the characters and potential suspects in the initial investigative
process. You'll find an overbearing mother, an agent of questionable
character, an arrogant competitor, a sleazy security person, and
even the deceased's famous coachPatrick McEnroe.
Speaking of McEnroe reminds of the need to accumulate certain items
or conversational exchanges in order to access the next stepin
this case, the McEnroe interview. I kept thinking that I should
be meeting him, finding out more regarding Elena, but didn't see
his "flag" on the map. It was a bit frustrating, until
I returned to one of the characters, engaged in more dialogue, and
had him say: "Her coach is Patrick McEnroe." Ta da, or
as the show's beat would say: "Da dum!" Suddenly, his
name appeared on the map and the interview could proceed. This kind
of hang-up can occur, but we adventure gamers are used to the need
for certain things to happen in order to unlock other areas. And,
I didn't find these instances a serious impedimentonly a bit
of a nuisance at times.
There are also puzzles, about twice as many as in Law &
Order II. They're essentially logical, not at all "Myst-like,"
with clues available for the observant. There's also a novel and
rather fun box-moving affair involving Lennie.
Elena's agent comments that the girl "had everything, except
pity for her opponents." Perhaps the greatest joy of the game,
besides the challenge of putting together clues and procedures,
is the very colorful cast of characters. They are numerous and voiced
very professionally. I especially enjoyed the wicked mother, almost
as much as Lennie. In addition to the fine acting, ambient sounds
(desk paper shuffling, phones ringing, other room activity) add
nicely to the atmosphere and your sense of game immersion.
Serving up an Ace!
Justice is Served is, by far, the best in this illustrious
series. It's excellently written, bigger in scope, longer, better
looking. It gets my highest recommendation as a must-buy for any
fan of the show and really any adventure gamer looking for an involving
and entertaining mystery to be solved. Thank you, Legacy Interactive,
for not only continuing the series (with Lennie!), but also for
your marked improvements. And thank you, as well, on behalf of those
new to these titles, for including in the package the first Law
& Order game: Dead on the Moneya very thoughtful
Release Date: October 2004
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium III 600 GHz
128 MB RAM
16 MB 3D video card
1.5 GB free hard disk space
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