Law & Order: Legacies: Serving up years of justice

February 16, 2012

I love Law & Order. Dick Wolf was right on the money to make two 30-minute shows, tie them together, and stick them in a one-hour time slot. I’m rooting for the cops to find the bad guy, and then ten minutes later I’m pulling for the prosecution to put him away. Telltale has proven the episodic adventure gaming can work, and they’ve proven that licensed games don’t have to be bad. Legacies isn’t their finest work, but despite the flaws I was just as engrossed in it as a rerun of L&O on TNT.

You’ll play the part of many franchise vets, including Ray Curtis, Abby Carmichael, and Mike Cutter. Backgrounds are hand-drawn and characters are cel-shaded. It’ s a little off-putting at first, but you can tell who’s who and without original cast voice acting, perfect likenesses aren’t needed anyway.

Where Legacies suffers is gameplay. Adventure games are usually light on it, but at least in something like King’s Quest you’ve got puzzles to solve, and you get to curse at Roberta Williams for allowing you to eat the pie that prevents you from getting past the Yeti. In Legacies, all you have is conversation to direct by selecting the next topic to be discussed. Based on what suspects say you’ll try to figure out if they’re lying. Whether you’re correct depends on selecting the right reason why via a quick multiple-choice prompt. If you screw up too many time,s the scene reloads and you’re free to start again; it is completely possible to win by brute force. This isn’t uncommon in adventure games, but it takes away some of the gravity of trying to perform an investigation— especially after seeing a similar mechanic used to great effect in L.A. Noire.

The courtroom bits are similar. You have to object at the right time and for the right reason, negotiate plea bargains and know when to play it up for the jury. These things are, like the police investigation, decided via multiple-choice prompt, but the courtroom half is definitely more engaging that the police half. Law & Order: Legacies recreates the tone of the show just fine, but in doing so it sabotages what could and should have been a better game. Where Jurassic Park was saved by great visuals and exciting sequences (even if your involvement was limited to quick-time events), Legacies falters by sticking too closely to the formula of the show. Unless you desperately need a new point-and-click game the television is where Law & Order belongs.

Pros: Fun courtroom sequences, true to the show’s tone
Cons: Brute-force puzzle-solving, not much excitement

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.