I always like to open these reviews by giving a little background of how my mind is set up going into playing this game. Three things impacted how I felt about this series. One: Telltale has been on a cold streak as far as adventure games since Tales from Monkey Island. Two: I love the courtroom games genre, thanks in large part to the influence of Phoenix Wright. Three: I have no feeling one way or another about the Law & Order franchise, other than that I was never a watcher of the shows.
Remarkably, Law & Order – Legacies does little to change my opinions on any of the three seemingly divergent thought processes. It is, overall, a weak throwback to the early to mid-90s FMV adventure games where the game is less about actual deduction that constantly offering pop quizzes about how much you understand the premise of the game. However, despite still not being a fan of the series, I found myself oddly compelled by the storyline and the characters involved.
The episode plays like an episode of the television series, and on that the game delivers in spades. There’s good drama in the “law” portion of the game and the courtroom scenes do a good job of engaging you mentally. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “game” even in this portion, as most of your time is spent clicking through rather spartan dialog trees (something Phoenix Wright hides well with bluster and humor), which can cause you to glaze over and miss salient points and rather good writing.
An interesting note, none of the television show’s cast reprises their roles here, which, while understandable, feels odd and may turn off fans of the show. The replacement actors do a fine job of mimicking their counterparts, but it does seem a shame that they couldn’t get anybody from the cast.
There aren’t any extra features, to speak of.
I haven’t come across any bugs on my machine, and the retail version seems to be relatively bug free.
You’re either going to love this or hate it. I sort of love the graphical style of this game. All the “actors” are presented in sort of a motion comic format, so they look like live actors painted into the 3D scenery. It’s a very interesting and unique visual style that I think works really well in motion, but it’s going to turn people who wished they would go full 3D or 2D off.
As I said in the lead, the voice actors are fine, but they are generic voice actors which does more to detract from the presentation than anything. If you can get over that particular hurdle, they do a fine job of playing this group of characters.
The music feels like it was pulled directly from the show, which is a good thing. The opening score is there intact, and the classic DunDUN is inserted whenever possible to remind you that you’re playing a Law & Order game.
Some, but not much. You collect a score for every quiz answer, objection, and line of questioning you get right, which the game spits back to you at the end of the episode. If you aren’t satisfied with your score, it makes sense to go back through and see where you missed.
Final Score: 6.5/10
This is TellTale’s best game so far in 2012, but that’s not saying much. I really think this series has some legs though, and I hope their integration of the technology into the story gets better as it goes, because I was a big fan of the drama being presented here and found the gameplay to be a huge hurdle to my enjoyment of it, which isn’t good.
I think it’s very telling of TellTale’s overall quality control problem currently. They are (understandably) very excited about branching out into the iOS/Android/X-Box Marketplace fields, that they’ve forgotten how to make a good game. This and Jurassic Park especially, have been dumbed down to the point of barely being a game anymore, is all just vaguely interactive fiction, which isn’t one of TellTale’s strengths and not what brought them to the dance.
While the Back to the Future license brought them a lot of eyes, I’m afraid this sort of slip in quality has been frustratingly evident in TellTale’s line-up since, perhaps Sam & Max Season 2 when they started eschewing their point and click roots to incorporate frustrating multi-platform control schemes. Since then, development has been about getting games out on as many platforms as possible. Which is, I understand, tremendous for business, but their game design philosophy has really suffered horribly since that point, to the point that these are barely even games.
It’s going to be interesting, given Double Fine’s recent success in getting their Adventure Project funded, how that will turn out (it’s already made a profit sales wise, and it hasn’t even started production yet). I’m hoping it spurs TellTale to dive back into the adventure pool with a fresher perspective.
In any event, I think the writing and art style of this game is easily an 8 almost a 9, but it’s so caked in bad design decisions that, while I think it’s worth a look at $19.99 for seven episodes, I can’t recommend it to anybody but fans of the show.
If you’re interested in taking a look at the game, you can find it at the TellTale Website.