Law & Order Legacies is more like interactive TV than adventure gaming

Jan 2, 2012
Games

Law & Order Legacies, a new point-and-click iOS adventure title by Telltale Games, has me in a quandary. The 20-year fan in me wants to unabashedly endorse, even love, this opportunity to enter the action with a mash-up “all-star” cast from the original TV classic and SVU. But, as a game, especially one with major […]

Law & Order Legacies, a new point-and-click iOS adventure title by Telltale Games, has me in a quandary. The 20-year fan in me wants to unabashedly endorse, even love, this opportunity to enter the action with a mash-up “all-star” cast from the original TV classic and SVU. But, as a game, especially one with major money and a top tier development team behind it, it disappoints.

Like other Telltale offerings Legacies is episodic. The first case is $2.99, and the second episode is available as an in-app purchase for the same price. Several additional “shows” are scheduled for IAP release soon.

One issue — if the first slice is any indication — is value: The adventure lasts about an hour. Puzzle Agent 2 HD, my favorite Telltale sequel, costs as much, but kept me playing for 15 hours solid.

I also dislike the art style, with intense unnatural shadowing and a manner not quite cartoonish, but a far cry from authentic. The character renderings are generally poor. Ray Curtis and Abby Carmichael look like themselves, but Olivia Benson, already drop-dead gorgeous, is overly sexualized, Capt. Van Buren doesn’t vaguely resemble any of her on-screen transformations, and Jack McCoy’s nose is so, um, prodigious, I didn’t recognize him. While not the original actors, the voice acting is solid, evoking some of the essence of the fan favorites.

The real issue is gameplay. This is a point-and-click adventure, with no room for creative problem-solving. The action is linear, which in understandable, but unimaginative in execution. During police interviews, questions pop up, and a tap selects the topic. The answers contain important information for future investigation, so they are logged. In the first half, playing as cops, the game is about determining whether a potential suspect is lying and how we know — a multiple-choice affair. One easy seek-and-find breaks up the copious dialogue. Getting the answer wrong too often restarts the scene, but nothing is lost. You can progress by simple elimination.

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In the courtroom, things are more interesting. Players have to object and for the right reason, manipulate jury sympathies, even plea bargain. But, the same multiple-choice interface plagues the lawyering, too. It’s more like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book than adventure gaming. Law & Order Legacies succeeds in recreating the tone of the show, but fails to make the full leap from semi-passive watching to immersive gaming participation.

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Lisa Caplan

Lisa Caplan writes app lists and guides as well as reviewing iOS apps and games on various tech sites, most recently on her fledgling iPhone and iPad giveaway blog, AppTudes. She is thrilled to be joining the stellar reviewing team at Appolicious. Located in a balmy Montreal suburb, Lisa has an advanced degree in Creative Writing, and has had an Apple computer by her side since 1979! She is a talentless art nut, bibliophile and accessory junkie. Lisa looks forward to sharing her gaming addiction and love for all tech that promotes culture, communication, social awareness and education at every level.

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