Game Review: Law and Order: Legacies
Release: January 2012
Available Platforms: PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad
ESRB Rating: Mature
Law And Order: Legacies is the latest release from adventure game savants Telltale. Based on the long-running television series, the game bounces back and forth between all of the main characters, allowing the player to step in each of their shoes. When it’s at its best, the episodic series feels like an interactive episode. When it’s at its worst… well, it feels like an interactive episode. This review covers the first three episodes in the series.
Legacies drops you right into the fiction of the show, and assumes you’re a fan from the start. Characters go through their routines, and little back story is given on any of them. This might be an issue for newcomers if it wasn’t for the fact that a majority of the characters are run-of-the-mill procedural archetypes. There’s the detective duo who usually end up playing good cop/bad cop, the head-strong prosecutor, and so on. As an adventure game, it plays closer to something like Phoenix Wright than Telltale’s more usual fare. And that’s fine, as this approach works to the series’ advantage.
The bulk of the game is divided into two halves; investigation and prosecution. During the investigation portion, you’ll do hidden object and point and click segments while looking over the scene of the crime, and interrogate suspects. Missing items isn’t really an option, as you can’t leave the scene until all clues are found. Usually, you are pointed very specifically towards what it is you’re looking for. And during interrogations, three wrong guesses or responses will lead you to having to start the conversation over again. While playing through the prosecution segments, you’ll be examining and cross-examining witnesses on the stand, in addition to objecting when the opposing lawyer gets out of line. Since all the evidence and testimonials are present and accounted for, it really is just a matter of asking the right line of questions, and calling the other lawyer into question when they bring something up that’s obviously melodramatic or out of line. Doing well during the court scenes is arguably the most important part of the game. A meter fills depending on how well you perform, and the more full the meter, the more pull you have with the jury. Bringing your A-game means you call the shots when it comes time for sentencing.
Being attentive leads to great rewards in Legacies. The main drive of the game is catching people in a lie, and throwing it back in their face. This makes for fun back-and-forth banter that makes the other party more and more nervous as the questioning continues, and it’s great to watch play out. While a bit ham-fisted at times, the narrative and storytelling is mostly on point, giving you good reason to continue on episode to episode.
On the other hand, a strong sense of plot and pacing doesn’t do much when weighed against the game’s issues, of which there are many. The character designs feel inconsistent and unfinished. Not quite realistic, and not quite stylized, your eye never quite knows what to make of the characters. And the world they exist in feels much the same as well. There were several points in the episodes where the characters looked like they were on a sound stage with a giant panoramic painting behind them. It came off as either lazy or rushed- neither of which is good, obviously. Finally, while the nature of the show is formulaic, the lack of variety in terms of game design hurts the title. Look over crime scene. Interview and interrogate. Present case. Object. Rinse, repeat. Everything you do becomes horribly repetitive as you progress, and with the game being astonishingly easy when compared to something like the Wright series, the want to keep playing is never a strong one.
Legacies is obviously fan service built for those who watch the show it’s based on, and that’s fine. The problem is that as a game, it falls short of almost everything it tries to accomplish. If you are a fan of the series, and are looking for more, give Legacies a shot. If you’re looking for a challenging, engaging video game, on the other hand, there are better options out there.
-Faithful to the television show.
-Unpolished in looks and appearance.
-Repetitive and not really challenging.
5 out of 10