If youíre a PC-owning fan of the long-running TV series Law & Order with an eye for a little sleuthing yourself, Law & Order II: Double or Nothing will be right up your alley. Featuring voiceovers from cast members Jerry Orbach, Elisabeth RŲhm and S. Epatha Merkeson, the game is a combination of first person adventure and puzzle solving with a deep plot that feels as if itís straight from the showís scriptwriters.
The game follows the same two-part structure of the show so donít expect any controllable car chases of bloody shootouts. In part one, a murder takes place and you partner with Lennie Brisco and use your detective skills to track down the killer. Then, part two has you take over in the shoes of the Assistant D.A. as you first organize, then present your case in court. Both sections require a ton of brainwork, whether itís searching for clues or interviewing suspects and witnesses as a detective, or presenting your case correctly and citing legal precedents as the A.D.A. At the beginning of the game, you choose one skill for each character you play from a total of four. Itís a bit tricky if you pick a specific skill and have little success or a hard time with witnesses or your superiors, but itís not impossible to finish the game, just a bit tougher.
You score points in both halves of the game, and itís possible to lose the game in court if youíre not thorough enough as a detective. I foolishly attempted to blow through the first part of the game by going after as few leads as possible, but between Brisco chiding me and my in-game cell phone beeping with info, I found if hard to continue on my path to failure. That, and my overall curiosity made me restart and do a lot better the second time around. I just had to know how things were going to turn out and this was one of those juicy cases I couldnít pass up. Itís actually pretty impossible to screw up too much here- the game gives you more than enough items, clues, and locations, but itís far from a cakewalk. Double or Nothing actually makes the legal process entertaining as well as somewhat challenging.
Visually, the game is solid, but not spectacular. All the character models have nicely rendered faces, but their heads all seem slightly too large for their bodies. The animation quality is decent, although a little motion capture session may be in order for the next game in the series. Overall, whatís here isnít as polished as some of The Adventure Companyís recent releases, but the game does run smoothly and all the menus are clean and easy to navigate. As far as the voices go, the overall professional quality of the voice acting is excellent, and the game has a great, well-implemented musical score (including Mike Postís familiar main theme).
The only drawback here is that the game isnít as long as your typical PC Role-Playing game, but you can say that about pretty much any game in the genre thatís come out in the last couple of years. Itís entirely possible to win the game with only 80% of the game completed, but youíll want to dive in all over again to see if you can get a higher score. All in all, Law & Order: Double or Nothing isnít going to set the PC gaming world on fire, but itís certainly a surefire way for you armchair detectives to pass a couple of hours.
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