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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.1    CPU: G3 @ 500 MHz    Hard Disk: 700 MB    Graphics: 8 MB VRAM

Law & Order: Dead on the Money
January 30, 2004 | Danny Gallagher

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I'm just a video game critic. I have no idea how tough it is to work as a police detective for the NYPD or a prosecutor in the District Attorney's office. But playing the new Law & Order game from Aspyr Interactive does a good job of simulating it - the aggravation, I mean.

The game is based on the long-running NBC drama that's shown the hardships of "the job" from both sides of the law for more than ten seasons and if you're a hardcore fan, then maybe you'll get a kick out of solving a murder along with Det. Lennie Briscoe and Lt. Anita Van Buren and prosecuting the perp with Asst. Dist. Attorney Serena Southerlyn. But if you're after a murder mystery game that doesn't take a truckload of physical patience to finish, try Clue.

Like all Law & Order episodes, the game starts with a body. This time, a grounds keeper in Central Park finds a strangled jogger along an exercise path during his morning routine. It's up to you and your partner, Det. Briscoe voiced by L&O star Jerry Orbach, to find out who is the "vic," who killed him/her and why they were murdered all in less than seven days. The trail picks up at the scene of the crime where you search for evidence and establish leads to the identity of the murderer and any traces they've left behind.

Before your case starts, you can make the search for evidence easier by choosing two of four handicaps in areas including interviews, evidence, teamwork and efficiency. Each of them gives you a unique edge in the game such as asking important questions only, distinguishing clues from garbage and slowing your time down. Unfortunately, none of them make your case much easier to finish.

Evidence is hard to find unless you've chosen the handicap option, and even then, it's hard to tell what's important and what's not even worth throwing in the East River. About 90 percent of the evidence you find at the crime scene and the three other searchable areas are important to your case. If you're able to distinguish which has the potential for becoming a clue, you can send it off to the Crime Lab. You can also do background checks on evidence you've found and witnesses you've interviewed as well as monitor their whereabouts with the Research and Surveillance departments.

Your boss, Lt. Van Buren, voiced by S. Epatha Merkerson, will occasionally call your cell phone or leave messages on the chalkboard if you've strayed from the path, but that's only if you chose the Teamwork handicap at the beginning of the case. Other than that, you're on your own. There are a lot of twists and turns along the trail and suspects' motives and pasts can throw you more curve balls than a five-armed Nolan Ryan.


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