Bev Chen
12 Feb, 2012

Law & Order: Legacies Review

PC Review | Bore and Order.

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.” Anyone with a television in their house will no doubt be familiar with these famous lines, the opening for the original Law & Order series. Although the series ended back in 2010, it’s a franchise that’s still very much alive and kicking, so much so that developer Telltale Games decided to create an episodic line of games, titled Law & Order: Legacies. As of writing this review, three out of seven episodes have been released, but it’s clear that Telltale Games will have to do much more to keep players on the edge of their seats.

We have to admire Law & Order for having so many episodes, yet having a reasonably decent stack of story ideas to keep viewers interested. So it’s no surprise that the stories in Legacies are the strongest point of the game, even if they were a little predictable. They follow the pace of the TV show convincingly as well, right down to the white text on black background and the “DUN DUN!” sound effect. Episodes seem to be a little short though, with each of them taking us about 45 minutes to finish. Each episode had a different premise, with the first episode, Revenge, being the most interesting of the lot and giving us high hopes. The other two had their fair share of twists and turns, but they never quite trump the suspense of the TV series. One thing we did like was the presence of an interlinking story between each of the episodes, which we’re definitely looking forward to in the later episodes.

All your favourite characters from the show are here. Unless they're not.

All your favourite characters from the show are here. Unless they're not.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Law & Order, you’ll be familiar with the format of the game. Each game episode is essentially split in half, one dealing with the investigation side of things and the other bringing the action to the courtroom. The investigation portion is much more entertaining by far, with the majority of the Legacies’s point-and-click gameplay taking place during these sections. But that’s all you ever do – point and click. The game never forces you to make any key decisions, such as who should be questioned or which locations you should visit – these are all done for you. Once the game railroads you into talking to a witness, you have a choice of picking from various topics to ask them about. If they get antsy, great! Things get slightly more interesting as you can attempt to pick apart their testimony, which usually involves trying to remember what you may have heard from other sources beforehand. This gets important when the game starts asking you questions like “Is she lying?”, as answering incorrectly three times will cause the witness to end the conversation. Get them right however, and the game awards you with... a star. Yes, it feels just like preschool all over again, complete with a text overlay telling you you are correct. Earn enough stars during each scene and you may raise your detective rank. This feels like a meaningless add-on designed to make players feel like they’ve done a good job, but aside from a small line of text at the episode selection menu, it never rears its head again. It’s really not that difficult to pick the right answers most of the time though. Firstly, some of the answers you can pick are blatantly incorrect. Secondly, Legacies allows you to access a log containing all the dialogue said so far, which admittedly is a huge help during some of the more complex lines of questioning.

Each case also has a section that has you looking for vital pieces of evidence. You are given a list of objects, sometimes with a vague description (eg. “source of blood”) and must scroll around a tiny space trying to find them. These sections are ok, but could be more intuitive for sure; examining an object requires you to draw a circle around it which the game doesn’t always register. The game attempts to challenge you here as well, giving you a number of actions during which you should be able to find all the evidence. The problem is that nothing actually happens when you go over this limit, except for not being able to earn extra detective points. Another irksome thing about these evidence collecting sequences is that you, as the player, never use the evidence again, even in court. If anything, it’s more of a convenient excuse for detectives to arrest someone.

Stop slacking and get back to work!

Stop slacking and get back to work!
Gameplay during the court sequences is slightly different, but not much of an improvement. At its core, it’s still asking the right questions and saying the right answers, but there’s a lot more than stars at stake. In court, there is a sliding scale showing how much the jury favours your case and it’s your goal to earn as many points as possible to convince them. And yes, like in Ace Attorney, you can object. While the theatrics aren’t as spectacular, objecting is quite satisfying, although each time you do so you have to explain why. Legal jargon comes out in full force here but Legacies explains it to you every time, even throwing in a handful of reminders as though it doesn’t trust you to check your logs. Object for the right reason and you earn points, but if you make the wrong decision, you’ll lose some as well. But again, the consequences of failing don’t feel like they have much impact; most of the time, a slip-up will just result in the script soldiering on as though you haven’t done much wrong.

That’s the thing about Legacies – it just feels far too scripted. It’s very hard to feel like your choices actually make a difference to any of the procedures. Couple this with the fact that the game pretty much insists on holding your hand at any given opportunity and you’ll wonder if you started up some bizarre rookie detective simulator instead. In the end, Law & Order: Legacies just feels like you’re watching a slightly interactive episode of the TV show, but with weird, cartoony graphics and actors who are ok, but not quite the real deal. You can already get a better version of the experience on TV for free. It’s clear that there’s only so much Telltale Games can do with such a prestigious license, but we hope that the next episodes that are released are more entertaining and feel more like a video game.
The Score
In the end, Law & Order: Legacies just feels like you’re watching a slightly interactive episode of the TV show.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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2 years ago
Seems like an odd choice for Telltale to make this. They had a good thing going with Sam and Max and, later, Monkey Island. Comparitively Law and Order just doesn't really fit their past with humourous adventures.
2 years ago
Neither did Jurassic Park.
Its a shame, Most of the stuff they are working on lately have been sort of 'big name' IP's, instead of the more Gaming IP's they really made they're name doing.
Be curious how they're 'the walking dead' game turns out.
2 years ago
I'm pretty sure a lot of people would have been gobsmacked if it rated higher than a 6. TV/Movie games just don't work and vice versa.
2 years ago
Is Angie Harmon in it?

Thats all i care about.
2 years ago
^ Abby is, but I believe she is played by another VA.

And with that, this is my last review on PALGN! Good times, good times.
2 years ago

Oh jesus sweet christ that's horrifying.
2 years ago
bye bye bev...
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