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A shallow courtroom game based on blockbuster TV series of the same name, L.A. Law is an ambitious design that is ultimately flawed due to logic inconsistencies and limited interaction.
First, some background information for those who are not familiar with the TV original: as an associate working for a large L.A. law firm, you must take on assignments from senior partners. Choose to play as either Jonathan, Abby, or Victor, all of whom are rising stars in the TV show. Each time you defend a client successfully in court, you are given a new assignment and a chance at being promoted. The game ends when you climb to the highest rank in the firm and elicit congratulations from the founding partners.
The game is divided into several cases, starting with "The Wrathful Race," in which you must prove your client's innocence in a car crash. You have a limited time to prepare each case before being ushered into court, and every action takes time in the game so you must carefully decide what to do. The problem is, sometimes that is not very logical. In the first case, for example, you must visit the opposing counsel to obtain the medical examiner's report and several witnesses' statements. Why you can't be provided with these from your own boss is beyond me. This extreme linearity also defeats the purposes of many actions in the game. For instance, you can use the library to research past cases, in hopes of finding legal techniques and information that pertain to your own case. The problem is: whether or not you come up with something useful is determined arbitrarily by the designers. In some cases, you can search all you want and never turn up a clue, while in others, doing research is the only way to proceed. The bottom line is that you will do research only when you think you are stuck, not because you think it makes sense-- something a real lawyer would probably never do :-) You also can ask various senior partners in the firm for advice, which are generally very valuable and tell you exactly what to do next. These take time, however, so you must use this "hint" function sparingly.
When you feel you are prepared to go to trial, you can go to court any time you want. The courtroom sequence is much better than pre-trial, since there are several actions you can take, and the final judgement can vary depending on how good your arguments or pre-trial preparation is. You can, for example, raise objections to the opposing counsel's questions, move for a mistrial, or even request continuance from the judge if you feel you need more preparation (this is hardly granted). Although your questions to the witnesses and their responses are "canned," it is still fun to watch their reaction and effects on the opposing lawyers.
All in all, L.A. Law is a decent game that could be so much more, had the designers spend more time with giving the player more freedom of action, and make the cases more logically consistent. As it stands, L.A. Law might appeal to fans of the series, but is mildly entertaining at best for everyone else.
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L.A. Law screenshot
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