Of all the shows on TV, Dick Wolf's Law & Order seems like one of the least likely to inspire a successful game franchise. However, that's just what the weekly crime drama has been turned into. With two point-and-click adventure games bearing the Law & Order name already on the market, the series continues to prove that it can bring quality criminal investigation to any medium. Law & Order: Justice Is Served is the third entry in the PC game series, and it continues along the same path of quality as its predecessors, featuring a unique storyline akin to the TV show and some fun but somewhat unremarkable investigation- and puzzle-based gameplay. This isn't really a game for diehard adventure fans, but for enthusiasts of the Law & Order franchise, it's quality fan service.
Murder's afoot in the world of women's professional tennis.
The story of Justice Is Served concerns a young and beautiful Ukrainian tennis starlet who is found dead in her locker room on the eve of the US Open. Enter detectives Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green (voiced by Jerry Orbach and Jesse L. Martin, respectively), who, along with you, the office-chair detective, must investigate the circumstances of her death and find out whether it was the result of foul play.
You'll begin by collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses. Evidence can be sent to a research lab or a crime lab, depending on what sort of information needs to be gleaned from it. When interviewing suspects and witnesses, you'll have a few different questions to choose from. Your goal is to pick the questions that are most relevant to the case. Of course, you won't be punished for asking the wrong questions, as the line of dialogue with your current suspect or witness won't end until you've asked all the required ones. Once you have enough evidence and testimony to build a case, you can then apply for search warrants, and eventually an arrest warrant.
After you put a suspect in cuffs, the game shifts its focus to the second stage of law enforcement, putting you in control of the prosecution for the case. The bulk of your work here will simply be making sure your trial case is rock solid by accumulating evidence and witnesses as you go. Once you're ready to go to trial, you'll subpoena your witnesses and submit your evidence. During the trial, you'll have to examine witnesses using the same interview mechanics employed in the criminal-investigation portion of the game, though now, if you ask an incorrect question, the defense will object and you'll be scolded by the judge. Similarly, if the defense steps out of line during its line of questioning, it's up to you to object. There are certain bits of legal mumbo jumbo that it helps to be familiar with for certain situations in court, but for the most part, all you really need to know is when or when not to object, and the in-game legal manual pretty much takes care of the rest.
For the most part, this is really all there is to Justice Is Served's gameplay. At times during your investigation, the game will present you with some decent puzzles, mostly consisting of simple situations where you must find the right combination of numbers or letters to unlock a safe or a box or something to that effect. These are almost always based on reasonably obvious visual clues, and they should be easy for anybody to solve. The only other notable type of puzzle you'll encounter is a mazelike puzzle where you have to navigate Briscoe through a room filled with boxes by moving the boxes around (not nearly as easy as it sounds, mind you). However, apart from the few somewhat challenging puzzles, Law & Order is mostly just about you experiencing the story, without much difficulty to get in your way. And, in that sense, the game works just fine.