Why Law & Order: Criminal Intent is labeled as an adventure game is just about the only mystery that this playable PC version of the hit television series has to offer.
Posted | 0 comments | By Alex Jeffreys
Why Law & Order: Criminal Intent is labeled as an adventure game is just about the only mystery that this playable PC version of the hit television series has to offer. The game does feature over 60 different environments, all of which you, assuming the role of star detective Robert Goren, have the freedom to explore at your own discretion and leisure. But aside from being able to bounce back and forth between different locations throughout NYC (courtesy of Goren’s nifty PDA map of the city), the adventurous aspect of the game leaves a lot to be desired.
The gameplay itself seems more like a test of click-and-point ability
Gamers who thrive on challenging objectives and strategic courses of action are sure to experience disappointment
The gameplay itself seems more like a test of click-and-point ability than it does a true venture into the mind of a criminal (or those figuring out how to bring the bad guys down). Gamers who thrive on challenging objectives and strategic courses of action are sure to experience disappointment from redundantly clicking on people, places, and things, all of which have extremely limited and easily predictable outcomes. Essentially, the mouse is the real detective in this true-crime fashioned game; for the most part, the player simply sits back and watches while evidence and clues are automatically analyzed and pieced together with a few simple clicks of a button. Otherwise, Law & Order: Criminal Intent only offers rare moments for players to utilize their true gaming skills in the form of oversimplified logic puzzles.
The game’s mechanics are likely to be yet another sore spot for hardcore gamers. While most PC games are already limited in the number of functions that can be performed with only a mouse and a few buttons on the keyboard, Law & Order: Criminal Intent takes the word “mechanical” to a whole different level.
Take, for instance, what can be considered the most crucial and fascinating aspect of solving murder mysteries: collecting the evidence. What could have been the most redeeming quality about playing Law & Order: Criminal Intent sadly turns out to be nothing more than scrolling over your PC screen and waiting for your cursor to turn into a magnifying glass, signifying that an object is a clue or noteworthy artifact. If the AI determines the object to be something worthy of collection, you’ll be prompted to put it in your inventory, and will have to get over to the crime lab, where a lab technician will then tell you what might be of potential value, and what isn’t. It’s too bad that Goren never has the opportunity to examine the evidence for distinct qualities himself; as such an option would likely increase the gameplay value.
Collecting the evidence
Talking to witnesses and crime professionals is another aspect in which the game’s mechanics fail
Talking to witnesses and crime professionals is another aspect in which the game’s mechanics fail. While the advice and information that they offer is interesting, obtaining that info starts to feel like a burdensome chore. Once again, all the player does is click and point, click and point. Click the person you’d like to speak to, and a limited choice in topics of conversation is automatically offered to you. Once you make your selection (if a selection is available, as often, you will only have one), you can then choose from only three of five ways to approach witnesses and suspects.
While this feature offers slightly more variability, it, too, is terribly basic. With options of approach such as “Deceptive,” “Straightforward,” and “Confrontational,” choosing one quickly becomes boring. Choosing the wrong one will eventually cause certain witnesses to stop cooperating, but more often than not, choosing incorrectly will only delay the information that is eventually offered when approached in the suitable manner. In keeping with the show, Goren will sometimes need to show evidence to witnesses, in order to get them talking. This, too, is very basic; it is as simple as clicking on the item, and then clicking on the character to show it to.
Now that most of the game’s major bummers have been brought to light, it’s time to discuss the few redeeming qualities that Law & Order: Criminal Intent actually does have to offer. And who better to share them with, than fans of the TV series, which my own detective skills have led me to believe are the only ones still reading onward in hopes that this review gets better.
To begin with, fans of the television series will take delight in all of the familiar sounds that the PC game has to offer. First and foremost is the fact that Vincent D’Onofrio, the real-life actor who plays the Detective Goren in the actual TV series, provides all of the voiceovers for his character in the PC version as well. Additionally, true fans of the show will undoubtedly recognize the voice of Jamey Sharidan, who plays Captain James Deakins in the series alongside D’Onofrio. Fans will also be glad to hear the familiar gong-like sound that each televised episode opens with, which ominously blares from the computer speakers at the start of each new game.
Voices and sounds aren’t the only things that will please fans’ ears. Much of the dialogue exchanged between game characters is spoken in true Law & Order fashion, delivering the same sense of realistic forensic science that the series has been acclaimed for. For example, the medical examiner will explain to you in her most professional voice that “The victim was stabbed at least once, while sitting in an upright position,” and that he was likely approached from the left. Although acquiring information such as this does not contribute much to gameplay, it’s still pretty cool to listen to nonetheless.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent also offers fans-turned-players much of the high tech equipment used by forensic professionals on the show. As Goren, players have access to a crime lab, research unit, and medical examiner’s office, as well as unlimited use of a PDA that enables players to keep witness lists, place calls to various people, and receive messages through voicemail. As with most aspects of the game, the player has little part in deciding whom to call, or who to cross off from the witness list, but fans of the show will enjoy watching such events unfold even if it wasn’t at their direction.
As with most aspects of the game, the player has little part in deciding whom to call, or who to cross off from the witness list
Ultimately, Law & Order: Criminal Intent is more for fans of the television series
The criminal profiler mode of game play is another bonus, especially for fans of the series. This mode is slightly more engaging than the basic investigation/interrogation mode, due to the detail that it offers. Although players cannot analyze evidence themselves, eventually, Goren is able to access useful insight about possible suspects by inserting evidence into his criminal profiler tool.
Ultimately, Law & Order: Criminal Intent is more for fans of the television series, than it is for fans of PC gaming. While the serious gamer will likely grow bored with the predictable and basic gameplay features, casual gamers as well as fans of the show will be more likely to gain some sort of satisfaction from gameplay. Not only is it a fairly easy game to get through, but most of the game’s pros lie in the fact that it is laden with sights, sounds and images one would expect to see in an episode of the show.
LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT VERDICT
Essentially, if you consider yourself an avid gamer, invest your $29.99 in something a little more challenging, and with a better replay value (this game has none). Otherwise, beginning gamers and Law & Order Fans will probably appreciate the minimal effort needed to interact in four Law & Order: Criminal Intent cases on their own PCs. But don’t take my word for it: log onto www.lawandordergame.com to play an online demo version for yourself.
TOP GAME MOMENT
greatest aspect of Law & Order: Criminal Intent is, by far, the
interactive puzzles. Though they pale in comparison to the puzzles in
games such as the Silent Hill series, they provide gamers with the
opportunity to utilize strategy and logic, which is seemingly devoid
throughout the rest of the game. They’re also somewhat unique as far
as video game puzzles go; literally piecing together the burnt wrapper
of a cigar in order to determine more about the killer is certainly
more fun than the typical move-the-statues-and-reveal-a-trap-door