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The maid’s body was found by another woman who worked at the hotel. She had a bruise on her neck that looked like it was from a cane, a cell phone full of messages that were mysteriously deleted by hackers, and a piece of paper with a word scribbled on it. Now Olivia Benson and Rey Curtis are hunting down the hackers and unraveling a conspiracy, but just as things start sliding into a reasonable place an incredible, perfectly Law & Order plot-twist is thrown in the mix. That’s the first half of the first episode of Law & Order: Legacies, Telltale's iOS take on the Law & Order franchise.
Telltale has a long history of almost getting licenses right. Its CSI games were nearly there, Jurassic Park scratched the surface, and its attempts at creating Back to the Future, Wallace & Gromit, and Strongbad games always left us wanting. But despite all of that, we’re still intrigued in Telltale’s take on Law & Order, and after getting some time with the game we’re fairly certain it’s going to be a treat for Law & Order fans.
It’s called Law & Order: Legacies, and the title is not misplaced. Instead of focusing on any one series in the Law & Order franchise (a mistake it made by hooking its wagon to Law & Order LA a few months before the show was cancelled), Legacies assembles a “dream team” of sorts, bringing Olivia Benson, Reynaldo "Rey" Curtis, Jack McCoy, and Lennie Briscoe together to solve a string of cases for the iPhone, iPad, and (eventually) PC/Mac. There are going to be seven in total, which each running from one to two hours, essentially telling an episode’s worth of story.
The “law” side of things has players investigating a crime, both by searching the crime scene for clues and by trying to catch suspects in lies by questioning them and cross-referencing their answers with information already gathered. It’s a little bit L.A. Noire, but without the whole “reading people’s faces” things. Instead, uncovering the truth requires remembering earlier statements and using them against people. And there are no lucky guesses, either. Correctly choosing an answer is followed up with a second screen where you need to justify how you came to that conclusion. Getting too many wrong can kick you out of the interview – a small punishment, but enough incentive to try and get things right.
It works well, and does a good job at replicating the feel of the show. In fact, everything about the game feels like it’s completely modeled after the show, from the introduction (which absolutely nails it), to the characters (who are serviceable sound-alikes), to the writing and story. The attention to details is fantastic; Law & Order has achieved some notoriety for failing to understand videogames or technology, and even that element is weaved into the games’ plots well – at one point we talked to a hacker who used the “20 warriors in my raid” as his alibi.
Above: The game features a somewhat cartoony art style that works well on the iPad and iPhone
The “order” side comes into play just like it does in the show. Players control the lawyers and try to use the evidence they collected in order to prosecute the perp. It’s there that the Phoenix Wright elements come into play, giving the player full control of both sides of the television show.
It's obvious Telltale took the time to watch a few Law & Order: SVU marathons on USA, and the attention to detail looks like it will pay off. They've really nailed the Law & Order vibe - and, to be honest, that might be the most important thing. Now if they can only court Christopher Meloni to reprise his role as Elliot Stabler so we could beat up people and call them pedophiles, we'll really be sold on the "dream team" thing...
Episodes one and two will be coming out for the iPhone and iPad on Decenber 22 for $2.99 each, with the PC/Mac version launching at some point next year.