Law & Order: Ranking All The Video Games

In addition to the countless spinoff shows created over the past three decades, one of the more underrated legacies of the Law & Order universe is its ancillary adventure video games. The first Law & Order tie-in PC game was released in 2002, with four additional games published over the following decade.

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Much of the appeal of the Law & Order video games come from a format that closely adheres to the dramatic formula of the TV show, allowing players to vicariously act as a trial attorney attempting to prove the guilt or innocence of a particular suspect. Now that Season 21 of Law & Order has been recently renewed (per Deadline Hollywood) after an 11-year hiatus, perhaps a new video game will also be created sometime soon.

5 Law & Order: Legacies (2012)

Detectives work together in the office on Law & Order: Legacies

After a solid decade of satisfying fans with various tie-in video games, the series ran its course with the final entry, Law & Order: Legacies. Comprised of seven chapters entailing grisly homicides, the interactive game culminates with a clue that connects all of the crimes together in one shocking conclusion.

First released via iOS and PC the following year, Legacies suffered from a cartoonish cell-shaded animated background that fans felt was a slap in the face for such a serious game. With a slow first episode to engage players, the somewhat boring and repetitive gameplay reduces the user to being a trainee that listens to hours of verbal testimony rather than getting to solve a case as a detective and/or prosecutor. As such, the game scored a middling 53 Metascore and all but ended the Law & Order game series. Still, a small sliver of fans thinks the video game franchise ended too soon.

4 Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2005)

Dead body found beside a river in Law & Order: Criminal Intent

With slightly higher review scores than Legacies, Law & Order: Criminal Intent puts players directly in the investigative shoes of Detective Robert Goren (voiced by Vincent D’Onofrio), the star of the TV spinoff of the same name. While the underlying mysteries of the four criminal cases are compelling enough, the PC game is racked by annoying technical glitches that are quick to turn players away. The introduction of the third-person perspective was also roundly criticized as a creative misfire.

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Aside from the clunky pathfinding of the game engine, characters have been known to randomly start doing jumping jacks once they exit their office. However, if one can look past the countless technical hiccups, rewards can be found in how accurately the game reflects the tone, tenor, and temperament of the TV show. Despite being a quicker game than most, the upgraded game engine from the first game is lightyears ahead.

3 Law & Order: Dead On The Money (2002)

The District Attorney persuades the jury on Law & Order: Dead on the Money

The first Law & Order video game released came via 2002’s Dead on the Money, a commercial success that surpassed many people’s expectations and led to four popular follow-ups. Developed by Legacy Interactive, the game concerns a Wall Street stock investor who is murdered while jogging in Central Park. Like some of the best Law & Order partnerships on the show, a player teams with Detective Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) to interrogate a series of suspects linked to the crime.

The best part of the game is its narrative format meant to mirror that of the TV show while reflecting the series’ worst crimes. Divided into two parts, the first half allows players to gather evidence as a junior detective. The second part allows the user to play as the assistant D.A. to help present the evidence and prove a suspect’s guilt. Praised for its cool novelty, hard-to-solve crimes, and interactive enthrallment, the photorealistic graphics were also far ahead of their time.

2 Law & Order II: Double Or Nothing (2003)

Detective Orbach questions a cyclist on Law & Order: Double or Nothing

Despite being mired in controversy in the UK during the time of its release, Law & Order II: Double or Nothing took what worked in the original game and expanded on it with tremendous results. The cerebrally challenging adventure game puzzler centers on the murder of a famed scientist in his car, with the player once again teaming with Detective Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) to find evidence and make an accurate arrest. Afterward, the player teams with a high-profile prosecutor to prove the case in court.

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With a simpler interface but a harder case to solve, the game was praised for its well-written story and increased difficulty level. With the adventurous side scaled back in favor of more analysis and problem solving, the game is sure to appeal to fans of the TV show. However, when an image in the game used to depict an abducted child was discovered to be pulled from CCTV footage of a real-life kidnap case in England, the game was quickly yanked from the shelves (per BBC).

1 Law & Order: Justice Is Served (2004)

Briscoe and Green question a tennis player in Law & Order: Justice is Served

Centered on one particular murder and all of its legal ramifications, Law & Order: Justice Is Served is often considered the finest police interactive procedural video game in the franchise. When professional tennis player Elena Kusarova is murdered the day before the U.S. Open, players must put forth a convincing case alongside detectives Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin).

By focusing on a single crime, the game offers the most exhaustive avenue for players to really go through the legal rigamarole that makes the show so compelling. The writing is deeper, the characters are more detailed, the puzzles are all germane to the central crime, and the overall result palpably feels like being inside one of the TV episodes.

NEXT: Ranked, Every Single Law & Order Series

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