Law and Order - Dead on the Money

Law and Order - Dead on the Money
This computer game is based on the popular TV series. The gameplay does a good job of having you feel like you're in an exciting episode of the show.

The characters and voices are right from the TV show, so you really feel like you're part of the action. You head out to the crime scene - a woman was killed while jogging in Central Park. You search the scene for evidence, and then start talking to various suspects.

You can choose your strengths, so you can know which questions not to ask, or you can get help finding evidence by having them highlighted. You have your crime lab and research lab examine evidence, and your surveillance team watches the people. As you find more clues, you track down more people to talk to. Get enough evidence, and you can request a search warrant, and eventually accuse someone of the crime.

That's when things get turned over to the lawyers. Now you try to prosecute this criminal, calling witnesses, discussing evidence, objecting to bad questioning. If you do a good enough job, you can nail the perpetrator!

The game definitely draws you along, You eagerly await the results of the tests you request, and wonder what the people you are talking to are hiding. You have an inkling of what you are looking for, and dig around until you track it down.

On the downside, the game is extremely single-threaded. The only way you can talk to person X is to investigate item Y - but you have no idea that it's item Y you need to submit out of the 50+ items you find at the scene. You can't carry them all, and you get scolded for picking up each item or submitting too many to evaluate. Where in a normal crime scene you'd figure the crew would gather up all evidence and sift it for you, here you get deducted moments for each "thing" on the ground (you don't know what it is until you pick it up) you even look at! So it almost forces you to play each half of the game many times - a few times to figure out what all the items *are* and which are important, and then a last time to actually just touch the items you now know "by osmosis" are important to your case.

The same is true during questioning of various people - questions that seem to be quite related end up causing the person not to answer questions that you actually need. They randomly decide at a point not to talk to you further - even if you have more questions for them. For example, a cleaner has his cart parked on a key point of evidence. But ask him the wrong questions and you cannot ask him to move his cart, even though he's still standing right there!

Finally, even though I use my system for many, many games of all types, this one crashed on me very frequently. It just meant even more frequent saves and restores, beyond what the gameplay already forced on you through its single-mindedness.

Recommended to a fan of the show, and a great concept. Hopefully future releases will address some of these issues and give the game more open gameplay, as in real world detecting.

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