You take the role of a prosecuting attorney in this legal thriller. Using film of real actors, you must question the witnesses and gather the pre-trial evidence. Then you must take what you have learned into trial and question the witnesses again, this time on the stand and in front of a jury. The game is entirely from a first person perspective. Your character is never seen. You ask the witnesses questions which plays a pre-recorded video segment, then allowing you to ask a follow-up question, and so forth. Depending on the questions you ask and how you ask them, the witnesses attitude and the way they treat you will change.
After the trial is over the jury returns with the verdict. Will it be Murder in the first degree (pre-meditated), Murder in the second degree (Spontaneous), Manslaughter (Accidental), or Not Guilty? The decision is made by your trial and people skills.
High production values in this game don't mean expensive location shots or big name stars. Instead, the creators of this interactive, story-intensive drama used their resources wisely, developing a good, solid script and thoughtfully crafting the interaction to create a sense of realism unrivaled in this genre.
Because of the distinct process that an attorney must follow when doing his workquestioning witnesses, establishing motives, and linking evidence - crime-solving is well-suited for simulation through a logical cause-and-effect structure like the one used in this game. In The First Degree quickly teaches you how to think like a criminal prosecutor. In no time you'll be analyzing various characters' motives, and asking the right questions to make your witnesses reveal just enough information to incriminate the bad guys.
The case that you've been assigned centers on the murder of an influential San Francisco artist, and involves his community of family and friends. The game has two major parts: first, a pre-trial interviews segment, and then the trial itself. Ask the right questions of the witnesses in the pre-trial section without alienating or exhausting them, and there's a better chance they'll respond similarly in court.
The interface takes the form of basic dialogue selection in which you choose from a list of questions or comments. Unlike other games, In the First Degree won't deliver a desirable outcome if you just click liberally through the different lines of dialogue. In this title, you must size up your witness and make decisions based on character, tolerance, and other human traits. By adopting a more sophisticated structure, the game admirably simulates actual conversation and personal interaction, and adds a decidedly emotional slant. The writing is top-notch, the acting is consistently strong, and the result is a very realistic - albeit dramatic - experience.
Playing this game is more like reading a good courtroom drama novel than matching wits with mind-bending graphic adventures; this originality and accessibility are what make In The First Degree a murderously good time.
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