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Law & Order: Legacies - Episodes 1 - 3

Score: 80%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Law & Order: Legacies kicks off a different kind of adventure title from Telltale Games. While I feel the episodic series still fits within the genre that has made the developer so successful, Legacies swings far closer to the interactive-movie side of things than any of their previous titles, but it also seems to really fit with the license really well.

The first release of the new game, Law & Order: Legacies - Episodes 1 - 3, takes you through three cases, and each one not only has the right feel as far as settings and sound to be called a Law & Order game, but the characters are dead on as well. Anyone who has even casually followed the various Law & Order series over the years should be able to easily recognize characters like Rey Curtis, Mike Logan, Olivia Benson (SVU), Lennie Briscoe, Anita Van Buren and Jack McCoy. While each of these characters are stylized versions of their TV-series counterparts, they definitely look the part. Similarly, the voiceacting is pretty spot on. I don't believe any of the actors have actually reprised their roles for the game, but many of the voices sound pretty darn close to the real thing.

As for the rest of the game's presentation, the locations around New York City feel like they do in the series and even locations like the courtrooms and police stations feel right. Then of course, there is the iconic Law & Order theme song and "clang" which are as a part of the series as the above-named characters. Well, their prominent presence just helps to sell the overall feel of watching another episode of the series.


Law & Order: Legacies - Episodes 1 - 3 takes you through three cases that, like the show, are divided in half. First, you investigate the crime and work the clues and interviews to figure out who should be arrested. Then, it's off to court as various members of the DA's office make their case, attempt to point out their opponent's improper questions and either win over the jury, or get a suitable plea bargain to get the accused off of the streets.

Besides the occasional crime-scene investigating, which feels a lot like a watered-down hidden object puzzle, Law & Order: Legacies is all about dialogue options and choosing the right conversation pieces to get the job done. While acting as a detective, the questions involve getting alibis, sleuthing out motive or maybe even just finding the next name to talk to. Regardless of your particular goal, your best tool is the ability to listen to what everyone tells you, because the game will constantly ask you if you believe what the interviewed character is saying and you will have to back up your decisions when you make them.

Each interview has three strikes before you've messed up the interview so much that you have to start back over, but like I said, if you pay attention to what people say, you will do good. On the flip side, each of the choices you correctly make will earn you a star and an increase in your rank for that part of the episode.

When in trial, the game will guide you to ask the type of questions that are likely to sway the jury to your side. The more swayed they are, the better your chances of either getting a good judgment from them or the better the plea bargain you will get when the defendants decide to meet outside of the courtroom.

You also gain points by not only objecting to the opposing lawyer's questions, but doing so for the right reasons. If you aren't already familiar with the different types of objections, then Law & Order: Legacies does a fair job of teaching you the difference between types like Argumentative, Leading, Badgering, Speculation, Hearsay and many others. While it becomes a lot to keep straight, the game doesn't try to trick you or make the decision too hard to figure out.

The first episode, "Revenge," brings Detective Curtis back to the NYPD where he partners with SVU Detective Benson. The pair investigate the murder of a hotel housekeeper and quickly learn that she isn't your typical maid. Investigations lead to a rather rich individual being behind the killing, but when it comes time for the trial, there may be some other complications. This case takes an odd twist though, so expect to change gears quickly before it's all over.

Episode 2, "Home to Roost," covers a case that Curtis and Briscoe tackled in 1999 involving a victim who was slashed with a curved blade and left to bleed for 2 hours before being dropped off at his home just barely too late to have help arrive. The detectives learn that the dead writer's latest project put him on the wrong side of the law and he paid for it with his life. The question is, and this is what the DA will have to work out, was it cold-blooded murder, just an accident or "depraved negligence."

The final episode in Law & Order: Legacies initial release, "Killer Smart," comes back to the present with Curtis and Benson working another case. This time Logan joins in to help as well since their investigations cross paths. A dead prostitute looks to be the latest in a serial killing, and when the cops arrest a pair of individuals, the trial portion of this episode gets a little crazy as they decide to act as their own lawyers. While neither suspect has any formal training in law, it is clear that they are using this tactic to blame each other for the crime and sow a lot of reasonable doubt.


Law & Order: Legacies - Episodes 1 - 3 can be easy or hard depending on how well you learn the lessons the game teaches you and how closely you pay attention to what's been said. Even then though, there are two very different feels to each episode. The police side of the game involves a lot of trying to catch the people you are talking to in lies, so knowing what has already been said is very important. The other half of the game, in the courtrooms, will use earlier conversations to steer an examination in a particular direction, but you will mainly be tested on the objections in order to make sure the defendants don't sway the jurors in any inappropriate ways.

In either situation, the tool that has the potential to make Law & Order: Legacies super easy is the Transcript. This is a running log of everything said in the game. If you aren't exactly sure of the details about an interview, this tool will help make sure you get it right. As a result, the trickier part of the game is making sure you do what is necessary in court since the guidelines for the different types aren't quite as cut and dry.

While the game doesn't really have different difficulty settings, it does rank you based on your performance. You earn two titles in each episode, one for your detective work and one for your layering. Interestingly, you can always go back and replay an episode, or a particular interview in order to get a better score. So, just because you are stuck with the title of Paralegal the first time around, doesn't mean you can't get something higher like Assistant DA before you are done with Law & Order: Legacies.

Game Mechanics:

There are a few aspects of Law & Order: Legacies that make it stray from the standard adventure game. For one, its more dialogue than anything else and this makes the game feel more like interactive episodes. That's not necessarily a bad thing though since Telltale did a great job of capturing the feel of the show. Not only is the division between Law and Order perfectly done, but I found myself getting through each episode in about an hour. This, in my opinion, just shows how well the developers matched the pacing of the series.

That being said, it's pretty obvious that the game was designed with iOS in mind rather than Windows. The dialogue options are large buttons that take up most of the screen to make it easier for touch-screen based devices and even the crime-scene investigation sections that have you playing a mini-hidden object game lean towards touchscreen friendliness. You aren't forced to click on just the right pixels in order to get the object you are looking for; instead, you use the mouse to circle the item. These aren't bad by any means, they are just different from the standard adventure game. The experience isn't bad, it's just obviously designed for another type of interface than a mouse.

Law & Order: Legacies - Episodes 1 - 3 isn't for everybody. Big Law & Order fans, those who remember the earlier characters, will enjoy seeing the new cases. I would also recommend this series to gamers who might have real-world experience in police or law work. I would even suggest Legacies to gamers who don't mind a more casual adventure experience, but those expecting to find a standard adventure game should know what they are getting into.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7, 1.8 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent, 2 GB RAM, ATI or NVidia Video Card w/ 256 MB RAM, Direct X 9.0c, 2 GB Hard Drive Space, Direct X 8.1 sound device

Test System:

Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

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