Written by  :  Jeanne (76590)
Written on  :  May 24, 2005
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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Had potential, but didn't live up to my expectations

The Good

Becoming an active player on a Law & Order team is cool. The introductory scenes and music draw you into the atmosphere of the show immediately.

When a man is found murdered in his car, you get to search the murder scene and collect evidence. It is you who must solve the case - first as a detective and next as the prosecuting attorney. Everything is collected inside your briefcase which acts as catch all "case file". You'll take all actions on persons and things from within that briefcase.

You begin as an "on the street" crime investigator. If you're not satisfied with the way a questioning session has gone, you can elect to discard it and start fresh immediately. Request evidence analysis, research (on people or things), suspect surveillance or a psychiatric evaluation. When you receive a call that results are completed, go to the various departments and collect the evidence after listening to the results. When you think you have enough evidence, make requests for search warrants by selecting a suspect and then the collaborating evidence in click-and-drop fashion. Finally, when you think you've got enough, request an arrest warrant, choose which witnesses and evidence to present to the court and go to trial.

Now you'll become the prosecuting attorney with everything that goes with that role - calling your previously selected witnesses to the stand and questioning them. When you've gone through everyone and everything, the attorney for the defense has his turn. Just like in a real court, each side has the opportunity to question any witness, including objecting to any question asked by the other side. It's up to you to choose your questions and objections carefully so they'll be approved by the judge.

There is more investigation when the court is not in session. During that time new evidence may turn up that can help your case. If you've chosen the proper evidence throughout the course of the game, and asked the proper questions during court, the jury will bring back a guilty verdict.

Sounds good, doesn't it? And it is .. up to a point. It is very satisfying to win the case, and very frustrating when you don't. Putting the pieces of the "puzzle" together from start to finish is the whole premise of the game. Your challenge is selecting the right pieces.

Graphically speaking, Law & Order II doesn't bring anything new to the table. In fact, it looks and feels much older. You look at the world around you as if you're in a box, even though you can view your surroundings from floor to ceiling and side to side without restrictions. The graphics of that "world" are nothing special .. I'd call them adequate. The characters are similar to their real-life counterparts, albeit blocky. Lip sync is done well, but looks strange as if the lips are pasted on top of the faces.

There is no pixel hunting here .. the evidence is there right before your eyes. But deciding WHICH is pertinent to your case, and which is not, is the deal. You'll end up picking up everything in sight only to discard what you think is not worth keeping (with no chance of regaining it). This is important because the inventory has a cap .. a pretty large one, but you will need to throw away some things as you get farther along.

Sound is also just adequate. There's really no other music of note in the game other than during the introduction. There are virtually no sound effects. The actors do a good job in their parts, and the scripts are well written.

There seems to be no limit to the number of saved games you can have, and the save and load routine and interface is very good. Options for graphics quality, sound, subtitles and more can be chosen to suit your own taste.

The Bad

I can't say that I really disliked anything about this game. It's just .. well .. different than other adventure games I've played thus far.

I did experience a few glitches - an almost lock-up when I was unable to move the cursor for over a minute, and sound that just quit. Installing the two most recent patches helped, I think, after a reboot.

An inconsistency occurred which may have been the fault of my system .. or may not. Towards the end of the game, some hot spots did not "glow" as active, adding to the guesswork factor.

The Bottom Line

As a fan of the Law & Order television show, I had high hopes before playing this game. Now that I've finished it, I have mixed feelings. True, I played it over a year after it was released, so that must come into account.

The game deserves high marks for story and concept, but only a mediocre score in presentation. The gameplay aspects are merely average, in my opinion.

It is not a bad game, just not as good as I expected, or hoped, it would be.