Law & Order: Justice is Served Review
Law & Order: Justice is Served begins with the murder of a rising young tennis star on the eve of the US Open in New York. The motive for the crime is unknown and there are no initial suspects beyond the rival who discovered the deceased’s body … let the investigation begin. Just as in the long-running television series on which it is based, the game shows both sides of the criminal justice system, beginning with the investigation of the crime and culminating in the prosecution of the suspect. Unlike the television series though, you are an active participant in this story working as a detective and then as a prosecutor to ensure that, well, justice is served.
If you played any of the prior Law & Order games then you’ll pretty much know what to expect from this one. If you haven’t the game includes a copy of Law & Order: Dead on the Money, so you’re getting a two for one here. Anyway, the game follows your basic adventure game standards with a few minor differences to make the gameplay more familiar to fans of the television series. The game consists of a number of locations pertinent to the case which are accessed by clicking on markers placed on a map of Manhattan. You begin the game with the crime scene and the police facilities available, but other locations will be revealed as your investigation continues. Each location consists of one or more fairly static screens that you can move between by clicking the mouse, and where you’ll do two things: look for evidence and interview suspects or witnesses.
You search for evidence by using that old adventure game standard of sweeping the screen with the mouse looking for special hotspots. When the mouse pointer changes to a different icon, you’ll know that you have found something that can be collected as evidence or examined more closely. The game features good-sized hotspots, so while it is possible to miss a hotspot on the screen the game is generally good about not requiring you to hit individual “magic” pixels. The problem with this aspect of the game is pretty much the same issue that has been a part of adventure games for, oh, the past twenty years or so. The game tells you what you need to take from a scene – you just need to move the mouse around until you find an item. So the bottom line here is that if you’ve never liked doing this when playing adventure games in the past, you still won’t like it here. On the other hand, if this has never been an issue with you, then you’ll be right at home in Justice is Served.
Suspect and witness interviews involve selecting a question from a short list of available questions. The idea here is that some questions are more pertinent than others and as a detective you need to determine which ones are so. This is not a very difficult exercise as it is pretty obvious which question to ask in each case. Furthermore, there is no penalty for selecting an incorrect response so even if you goof it’s no big deal – the game will let you eventually get around to asking the right questions.
As you gather evidence and information from witnesses, you will need to use the resources of the NYPD to help solve and build your case. Evidence can be sent to the crime lab for investigation and you can do background checks on suspects or even have them followed. As reports become available from these departments, new suspects may be identified or locations unlocked. The locations and suspects will then appear on your map allowing you to visit them to gather further evidence.