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3 1/2 stars from CD-ROM Today
4 stars from Computer Gaming World
Silver - Interactive Movie Title from New Media's 1996 Invision Awards
You are the Prosecutor on a Shocking Murder Case!
Some artist die for their art. James Tobin killed... or did he? As San Francisco's D. A., you must prove he did, in what has become the most sensational murder case to hit the Bay Area in years.
Who will lead you to the truth? The passionate girlfriend of the accused? The socially connected wife of the victim? Perhaps his bitter apprentice?
Every reluctant witness and shred of evidence is required to paint a homicidal portrait as chilling and surreal as one of Tobin's own paintings.
And as if that weren't enough, everyone will be watching you on this one - especially the media.
Call your first witness, Counselor. Can you prove murder... In The 1st Degree?
Stunning cinematography and brilliant performances enhance the drama.
Intuitive interface makes game play easy to understand.
Numerous plot twists and possible verdicts create a new experience each time you play.
Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, 486SX 25 MHz processor or faster, 4 MB RAM (8 MB recommended), Super VGA (640 x 480, thousands of colors and 256 color modes), Windows compatible sound device, Double-speed CD-ROM drive or faster, 4 MB of hard disk space.
CD-ROM Today, October 1995
"If you're tired of being a passive observer of real-life courtroom dramas on television, In the 1st Degree is your chance to address a jury, badger witnesses, and steer a sensational murder case from initial investigation through a virtual verdict."
"The Channel 2 news team sets the stage for the case, revealing that Zack Barnes, owner of a trendy San Francisco art gallery, has been shot to death. The victim's business partner, artist James Tobin, is charged with the murder. As Stewart Granger, a mild-mannered but persistent prosecutor, your job is to make sure that the jury convicts Tobin of - you guessed it - murder in the first degree."
"The first-rate production values of In the 1st Degree make covering familiar ground bearable. The interface is blessedly simple, the writing is snappy and realistic, and the acting is generally believable and only occasionally hammy. And the graphics are well-designed and rendered."
"The game also teaches the gritty reality of the modern American courtroom. As Dr. Fleece, the virtual legal analyst in the game, notes, 'The odd thing about a trial is that you never really find out the truth - only what the jury thinks is the truth."
Home PC, February 1996
"This interactive murder trial promises a compelling evening or two in front of your PC. Prominent art agent Zachary Barnes has been shot dead, and his business partner, artist James Tobin, has been arrested for the crime. You play the San Francisco prosecutor assigned to the case. You must plan your courtroom strategy carefully - is the motive jealousy, an art-theft cover-up or both?"
Computer Gaming World, December 1995
"For the most part, the quality of the game is remarkable. It's put together entirely from well-acted, well-scripted, and well-filmed, live action scenes that are cleverly stitched together: this helps to blend the miniature QuickTime windows segments seamlessly into the static photo backgrounds."
"Adding to the quality of the illusion is dead-on casting (not all the actors are great, but they all look deliciously idiosyncratic, like real people you might actually see on the nightly news), and an apparently endless supply of apt visual 'asides'."
"The designer's eye for detail is shockingly sharp: from some just-right misspellings on a police report ('tehy' for 'they'), to the decoration of a greasy spoon diner; and the wonderful shot of a child playing with its mother's brooch in the public gallery at the trial. With these details and the bull's-eye faking of newscasts and other television fare ('Tonight at eleven: parking meter rates are on the rise... more rain is on the way.. and the Mexican government was deposed in a violent coup'), In the 1st Degree is packed with a density and precision of satirical detail more typical of a Nabokov novel than a computer game."
"The game is lots of fun, and can be enjoyed simply as an excellent and tense courtroom adventure. But the beauty of In the 1st Degree is that, on top of the ordinary joys of its gameplay and its 'let justice prevail' climax, it has a cynical sensibility it isn't afraid to display."
"Computer games generally don't induce much reflection; In the 1st Degree compels it. Without sacrificing the elements of play and strategy, which are crucial to a successful game, In the 1st Degree makes you think about our legal system, our narcissistic media, and our idolatry toward celebrities, among other timely topics. It's a fine line the designers have chosen to walk, since a single false step would send the game spinning into the abyss of self-righteous didacticism. But In the 1st Degree walks it like Philippe Petit wire-walking across Niagara Falls: there are no false steps, not one. And like Petit's famous stunt, the result is not just a success. It's a marvel."
NewMedia, January 2, 1996
"Creating the first Broderbund game since Myst must have been tough, but Adair & Armstrong rose to the occasion with the emotional cinematic courtroom drama In the 1st Degree. Using QuickTime movies of actors placed in photographic or rendered backgrounds, this game, though still not seamless, makes strides in marrying the two. Most of the game is shot in first-person perspective, but dramatic camera angles add a cinematic feel. The interaction is tough to separate from reality. As prosecuting attorney, you interview your witnesses, always taking their emotional thresholds into account. You are given a choice of questions to ask and a chance to hear each question before you select it. This is an important departure from similar games, because human speech carries intonations and emotions that can't be expressed with text.
"In court, your witnesses will reveal more or less depending on how the pretrial interviews went. Multiple outcomes are possible, but only one path leads to a Murder One verdict."
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