Reviewed: November 10, 2004
Reviewed by: Daniel Sayre

Vivendi Universal Games

Legacy Interactive

Released: October 5, 2004
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1
ESRB: Teen


System Requirements

  • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
  • Pentium II 500
  • 64mb RAM
  • 3D Video Card w/ 6mb

    Recommended System

  • Pentium III 800
  • 256mb RAM
  • 3D Video Card w/ 32mb

  • With two previous Law and Order games under their belt, Legacy Interactive aims for the fences with Law & Order: Justice is Served. The game once more features the street-smart savvy of Detectives Lenny Briscoe and Ed Green as they search for clues, evidence and interrogate suspicious persons.

    Once the footwork’s over, you step into the role of an ADA and, along with Serena Southerlyn, strive to put the perpetrators behind bars. Justice is Served, as with the two previous titles, is a point and click adventure game.

    As the third game in a series, not much of the framework has changed. You are put into a variety of semi-static environments and must click on items to investigate them further. If the item is relevant (in the games opinion) you are allowed to take it with you. Along the way you uncover some puzzles that require you to think creatively.

    The puzzles seem much improved from the previous installment. Not too easy, but not overly difficult. They hit a real sweet spot where you still get satisfaction for solving it, but don’t go insane with frustration in the interim. There’re not too many of them, maybe it could’ve used a couple more honestly.

    The New York map is still used to travel around the city and question people concerning the case. Travel is merely clicking; no long car rides and quite often brings you right to the person (no walking halls or knocking on doors.)

    Interviews are conducted by choosing from a pool of choices. Ask the wrong questions and the subject can clam up and even quit the interview. After questioning, the game lists the relative parts of the conversation in a notebook for future reference.

    Once Evidence is collected, it can be researched at the precinct, or tested at the lab. Witnesses can also be researched and/or tailed if you’re feeling suspicious towards them. All of which can be done at your desk, and then turned into the respective sections of the police station.

    Once you have gathered enough evidence and/or just cause you can petition for a search warrant to investigate certain people. Once enough evidence has been accumulated, you can try and get an arrest warrant for your prime suspect. If you are successful, that person is arrested and you move in to courtroom to try them for their crime.

    Using Serena Southerlyn, you must use interviews and physical evidence you collected as Briscoe and Greene to grill people on the stand in order to get a conviction. Choose the wrong questions and they could get away with murder.

    The prosecuting attorney is still played by the same actor as in the previous. Law and Order does make use of some regular defense attorney’s but I believe the game should get a new one at this point.

    Something that seems to be increasingly gnawing at me, is the fact the game decides what you need to take. For instance, you’d imagine a stool with blood on it would be taken in for testing and whatnot. The game thinks it isn’t important so it stays. It’s the same story with a lot of things I imagine the real police would take from a crime scene.

    There is a noticeable jump in graphics, nothing earth shattering but easily apparent. They are still comparable to a late generation Quake III game. The actual game environments, being pre-rendered and all are very realistic (and even look a bit better then the ones in previous games.)

    The menu’s are easy to read and the writing in the notebooks look reasonably factual. With graphical power ever increasing, it shouldn’t be impossible at this point to bring in a fully 3D environment. This could probably be done without losing much, if any, of the graphical presentation.

    In a disappointing carryover from past games, the New York DA is neither played, nor voiced, by the current actor (and former US Senator) Fred Dalton Thompson. For a game that prides itself on having the full cast, this is a puzzling omission. The role is handled by the same character they’ve had since the first one.

    The ambient noise fits the mood; all of the characters from the show are voiced by their real-life counterparts (with the above noted exception.) The lines are well read and feel pretty “off the cuff.” The theme is also present and sounds just like the show, as are the signature “DAH DAH DAH” when they go to question someone.

    All in all, a pretty great deal, you get a free copy of the first game when you purchase “Justice is Served.” So already you’re getting two games for around $30, not bad.

    The game itself is a pretty involved mystery, probably around ten or more hours in length. Once beaten, there is little reason to repeat the experience, it still turns out the same way.

    At $30, the same price point as the others, Legacy Interactive is pricing this as middle class budget ware where such a well-constructed game is worth the money, but still short of what you would expect for shelling out fifty dollars.

    For all intents and purposes Law & Order: Justice is Served is a cookie cutter sequel, just more of the same with really marginal improvements. All three games are just different cases following the same basic formula with the same basic engine, each bringing nothing significantly different to the table.

    I’d be a tad more forgiving with a second game in the same mold, but this is the third one like this. The series really needs to be moving forward in certain areas. Give us a random selection of suspects, certain twists through each play through, a fully 3D environment, something.

    As it is, you are basically playing the second game with a new case (and a free copy of the first game) for around thirty dollars. If that sounds great to you, then buy it; you won’t be disappointed. If you want an adventure game, Justice is Served will also serve that need. If you want the next evolution in Law and Order games, this probably will fall short of your expectations.