Publisher: Legacy Interactive
Developer: Legacy Interactive
For one of the few times in my life, I won top prize in a raffle. Unfortunately, my luck had to come in this instance. Law & Order: Criminal Intent was originally released on the shelves as a game with three cases to solve. Deciding to milk this travesty for every last penny, Legacy then released each case separately as an on-line download for $19.99 per case, with promise of a fourth case available for download (that ties all of the cases together). My particular prize was the third case, The Vengeful Heart.
You play, of course, as Detective Goren, voiced by Vincent D’Onofrio. Much like the previous games in the Law & Order series, your job is to find clues, interrogate witnesses, and compile evidence to justify a warrant. Playing to the show’s strength (Goren’s maniacal ability to manipulate witnesses by vacillating his mood), you are able to choose from one of five different mood states prior to each question you ask a witness. Choose the wrong approach, and the witness may stop talking (necessitating a return, or simply a restore). Sadly, none of this really works because D’Onofrio mails in his performance. In fact, there’s a significant probability that he was given his lines without any context, spoke into a tape recorder, and mailed the tape into the studio. This is not the same character most fans of the show love.
Without the lead actor going for it, the rest of the game matters little. Apparently, the designers must have thought so as well. Puzzles are terribly simple, the only roadblocks consisting of pixel-hunting missions. The storyline is the weakest I’ve seen in a Law & Order game. And to top it all off, the game is buggier than a Volkswagen plant (and lamer than that analogy). The visual bugs (like Goren doing jumping jacks for no reason) are actually a nice diversion from the real terror. Saving your game takes a wing and a prayer, as half the time it won’t be there when you’re ready to restore. I was within five minutes of finishing the game when most of my save states became corrupted (and how necessary they became with the game locking up the desktop every ten minutes). Needless to say, I didn’t bother restarting. At least the sound effects are pleasant.
As of 2005, Computer Gaming World had rated four games with a score of zero in the 26 year history of the company, with Law & Order: Criminal Intent being awarded this distinction most recently. Considering the bugs, poor game design, pitiful acting, and shameless marketing, I can’t help but concur.