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Law and Order II
game: Law and Order II
two star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
date posted: 12:00 AM Thu Oct 16th, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Thu Oct 16th, 2003

By Tristan Mayshark

Let's just put my sick obsession with Law and Order on the table at the beginning of this review, to help put it in some context. I love Law and Order. Not the new offshoot series, or really the current lineup on the regular Law and Order? show, but I think there was about a fifteen year run, highlighting all of Michael Moriarty's time on the show, plus the first several years of Sam Waterson's time as DA, that ranks as some of the best crime drama ever made.

All that said and done, this game is pretty terrible. Like the television series, it's broken into two main sequences: one where you play the part of a police officer investigating a crime (in this case, the killing of a leading scientist?, of course found brutally murdered?); as well as a second sequence (trial?) where you play the part of the district attorney trying to prosecute the person you arrested in the first half of the game. In order to win, you have to play through both of these sequences pretty much flawlessly.

On the face of it, that doesn't seem like too outrageous of a demand; indeed, most games require a degree of mastery to reach the end. What makes it so frustrating to do everything perfectly in this game is an utter lack of feedback if you've neglected to pick up a crucial piece of evidence that will later make the game unplayable. A chief complaint that I had with the first of these games (yes, I gladly parted with my money the first time around. As I mentioned, I do have a sick obsession with this franchise that overrides my common sense sometimes) was that you were under a clock in the investigative portion, which made it that much easier to leave clues undetected. To their credit, Legacy responded to criticism by removing the clock from this game as well as allowing you to select from one of several skills? at the beginning of the game that do things like alert you to ignored clues or to not having asked enough questions.

The game is played through a series of environments that appear to be 3D rendered; however, it really doesn't matter since all you can do is stand in one place and click on things, scrolling side to side to look around. The engine is, in fact, simple enough that it can be recreated entirely in Macromedia Flash, and anyone who wants to see what this looks like is encouraged to go to the official web page at (http://www.lawandordergame.com/ ) and play the online demo?, which is a Flash recreation of a part of the game.

Once you've decided who you like for the crime, you (presumably) step out of your dapper detective clothing into slightly more dapper DA clothing, and try to convince the jury that you've got the right person (which you won't be able to do unless you DO have the right person-- a side note that cuts right back to the fundamental flaws in this game) You then play through a series of 3D environments that you can stand in and look around (sound familiar)? Unfortunately for me, while I like Jerry Orbach and enjoyed his voice overs in the first part of the game, I blame Elisabeth Rohm's addition to the show for its current state of non entertaining drivel, and even in a digital media she comes across as kind of petulant ,at times, and whiny at others. Ostensibly she's there to do the same thing she does in the show: do the grunt work and help you win the case. In practice, she serves more as an early warning system to let you know if you are veering off track. In any case, I wish she would just go away.

So, if you play through both halves of this game perfectly (which you won't on the first attempt), you'll get the satisfaction of winning, but the game isn't going to make it easy, or particularly fun. The manual explains Save often. It's a good idea to save your game often so that you can reload a previously saved game if you feel that you've reached a dead end?. As a dyed-in-the-wool adventure gamer, this really bothers me because I've always thought that a hallmark of a good adventure game is an inability to reach a point of limbo? where winning is impossible but the player doesn't know it.

When everything is said and done, I don't think this is a game I can recommend to the serious adventure gamer because there are far better offerings out there, and I don't even know if I can rightly recommend it to Law and Order fans, since I am a member of that demographic and yet just wrote this scathing review. If nothing else, download the demo before you decide to buy this one.