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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 10, 2006

Play detective, crack multiple cases

By John Breeden II
Washington Post


Platform: Windows 2000/XP

Rated: Mature

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Some days, it doesn't pay to get up. That's probably what Detective Robert Goren is thinking when three bodies are found, and he gets assigned the cases. Goren is voiced by Vincent D'Onofrio, who plays the character on television.

Like other games based on the "Law & Order" franchise, it's your job to lead the detective around New York City collecting clues, solving puzzles and interviewing suspects and witnesses.

There are several improvements in "Criminal Intent" over other games in the series. For starters, you have to solve multiple cases instead of just one. And there is no courtroom component here. It's your job to find the suspects, not to prosecute them. If you like the courtroom drama in the other games, you won't get that here, but you will have plenty of detective work to keep you busy.

The cases were written by writers for the television show and are very good in terms of plot. The three murders are seemingly unrelated. Spoiler warning: If you solve all three cases, you are given a new murder that ties them all together in a bit of a twist ending.

You no longer have to pick what questions to ask suspects. Instead, you choose the mood of Detective Goren, and he asks the questions. You can be flattering, intimidating, inquisitive or deceptive. Watching the suspect's reactions gives you a clue to how you are doing and lets you shift tactics during the interview if you think you've hit a wall. There are also many puzzles to solve, such as putting a torn-up note back together or opening a safe.

On the negative side, the game is very buggy and could have used another couple of months in development. The pathfinding artificial intelligence is horrible, one of the worst I have ever seen. Goren can't find his way around objects without a lot of help and sometimes gets stuck infinitely running into a wall. If you can forgive that, then the rest of the game is quite arresting.