The game is, as one might expect from the title, based on the long running tv series Law and Order. Do you need to know the show to play the game? No, while a fan of the show may appreciate the characters a bit more, the game is quite enjoyable on it's own merits.
The game does feature three of the characters from the series, voiced by the actors who play those characters. The storyline behind the game was written by one of the regular writers of the series. So the game has an overall professional flair that you would expect from a good team.
The game, much as the show, is separated into two main segments. In the first part of the game, you'll be working with detectives Lenny Briscoe and Ed Green to determine who murdered the up and coming tennis star. In the second part of the game, you work with Assistant DA Serena Southerlyn to bring the murderer to trial and get a guilty verdict.
The main interface for the game is a tool bar at the bottom of the screen. The tool bar has separate tabs for people, physical evidence, document evidence and the reports from the specialists that you have requested. Also there is a tab at the left that reveals the area map (marked with places and people you should investigate), your phone and the main menu icon. The setup makes it easy to find the tools or evidence that you need.
As one of the detectives, you'll be going from place to place to interview witnesses and suspects. You'll also go regularly to your desk. From your desk, you can request lab tests, research or put your suspects under survellience. You may also request search warrants and an arrest warrant. A number of the locations have items which must be opened after learning someone's password, but the hints to those are usually nearby. There are also a few other puzzles; such as identifying letters to prove a typewriter was used to write threatening notes.
The major hints for this section of the game are to be sure to use the lab, research and surveilance teams as needed. And you should interview everyone on all the evidence that you have recovered thus far. Use your cell phone to determine if you are ready to issue a warrant.
Once you complete the detective part of the game, you'll start working with the assistant DA. By this point in the game, you want to save often in different save game slots. The reason is that while you are in the courtroom, you'll need to ask the correct questions of your witnesses and object to incorrect questions from the defense. The computer in the DA office has information about trials and what is acceptable. But practice is the only way to really ensure that you know what to do. In particular, you need to object to defense questions before the witness begins to answer, so you need to know what is acceptable.
Outside of the courtroom, you need to follow up on a few of the witnesses and pieces of evidence. Once again, your cellphone is a good way to check progress, because your boss will tell you if you are ready for trial.
The characters you talk to have little mannerisms. This is fine, it makes for more realism. The gripe is that it is actually just one mannerism per character and some of them are noticably odd to see repeatedly. In particular, Patrick McEnroe sneezes far too often for a healthy guy.
A must have for fans of the show, or fans of detective games. The game includes a few other puzzles (including one based on sound) and timing is very important in the second half of the game. It has a strong storyline and a definite conclusion if you complete everything correctly. The package includes the first of the Law and Order games Dead on the Money, so you are actually getting two games for the price of one.
Final rating of the game: 4 of 5 stars.
If you succeed in getting a guilty verdict, you'll unlock some interviews with the stars of the show. Depending on your final score, you may not unlock all of the bonus content.
Hint for the sound based puzzle. Turn off music in that room and start on C#.