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Law & Order: Justice Is Served (PC)
Publisher:  Vivendi Universal Games Developer:  Legacy Interactive
Genre:  Adventure Release Date:  10/05/2004
ESRB:  Teen More Info on this Game
By Scott Osborne | Oct. 18, 2004
Whether you like detective stories, courtroom dramas, or adventure games, Law & Order: Justice is Served has a lot to offer.
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Pros Cons
Blend of diverse intellectual challenges; captures feel of show. Lacks some of the show's stars; visuals could use more pizzazz.

Law & Order is a television phenomenon. Now in its fifteenth season, it's the longest-running crime show on TV, and the second longest-running TV drama. It's already birthed two spin-off shows, with a third in the works. It's also offered a prime-time showcase for acting talent like Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach. There have been a lot of great cop dramas over the years, but Law & Order stands out for its intense, ripped-from-the-headlines stories, and its trademark formula that follows the work of detectives during the first half of each episode and then the prosecuting attorneys during the second half. Law & Order: Justice Is Served is the third game to bring this classic Law & Order formula to the PC, and does a great job capturing the feel of the show while fusing it with traditional adventure game elements.

Justice Is Served boasts a story that would feel right at home on the show. Two female tennis pros enter their locker room, and while trading nasty insults, one of them spots a dead body on the floor. It turns out to be a young, beautiful tennis pro from the Ukraine, Elena Kusarova. While she might not be the greatest player on the court, the media and fans adore her, and big corporations send truckloads of money her way for endorsement deals. It turns out that this Anna Kournikova-like player was surrounded by all kinds of shady characters, including a domineering mother, shifty agent, arrogant female competitor, smug lady's man from the male circuit, security guard with a suspicious past, and many more. Many of these people won't hesitate to lie -- or perhaps even kill -- to protect their interests. Did one of them kill Kusarova, or was Kusarova a troubled young woman who committed suicide?


A.D.A. Southerlyn at the arraignment.

Oh, What a Tangled Web They Weave

It's your job to unravel the game's tangled mystery by interviewing suspects, gathering evidence, and eventually making a conviction. As in the show, the first half of Justice Is Served is devoted to detective work. You tag along with Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green (voiced by Jerry Orbach and Jesse L. Martin from the show), gathering evidence that you can submit to the police department's research office or crime lab for further info. You also interview numerous witnesses and suspects. There's no time limit to your investigation, and you can gather and research as much evidence as you like.

The questions you can ask your suspects are all right there for you to choose from in a list, and you don't have worry about asking "wrong" questions that might turn interviewees against you or make them flee the city. Some witnesses will indeed clam up eventually, but that's no fault of your interrogation skills; it's just them trying to protect their interests. Part of the challenge of the game is finding the right document, crime lab data, or surveillance report to show to these defensive interview subjects in order to get them to start talking again. For example, if someone insists he wasn't at the crime scene, you can get him to resume talking when you show him you've found conclusive evidence that he was in fact there.

Another challenge during this part of the game is figuring out which evidence to submit as part of your search or arrest warrant requests. Fortunately, keeping track of all the suspects, evidence, and reports is pretty easy thanks to a clear, logical interface. It lets you stay focused on the mental challenge of tracking down the prime suspect.


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