Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Review

One game down, three to go.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Before I delve into discussing the game, I want to take a moment to focus on the mouthful of a title.  In Japan, the game was released under the title Miles Edgeworth: Perfect Prosecutor, or something along those lines.   I personally wish this change wasn't made as the original title makes considerably more sense.  Edgeworth is a prosecutor and not a defense attorney, the use of two words beginning with the same letter ('P' in this case) was a nice way of tying it with the Ace Attorney series, and the North American title is just too freaking long.  I think it's fair to assume the name change was made to ensure people knew that it was relevant to the Phoenix Wright games but I just don't think it was necessary; anyone who's played a Phoenix Wright title is fully aware of who Edgeworth is so his name in the title alone makes the connection clear.
On to the review:  I should make clear that it's hard to review a game like this based on gameplay mechanics, which goes against how I feel games should be evaluated but for this series I'll make the exception.  The way the game plays is effectively the same as all the others with a few noticeable but not very large changes.
The biggest change is that the game is no longer purely a point-and-click adventure and incorporates a little bit of third-person gameplay.  There's not much to say about it, you visibly traverse areas of the investigation rather than selecting where you want to go from a list.  It's not really more or less fun than the previous method, it's just different.
Also among the new, none of the game is placed within a trial.  In this case, you take on the role of both detective AND prosecutor; thoroughly examining scenes, gathering evidence, and performing your cross-examination/rebuttal on witness testimonies.  The mechanics of the dialogue-oriented areas of play are absolutely identical to the original Phoenix Wright title, right down to removing the ability to present profiles as evidence oddly enough.
Visuals is another area of more-of-the-same, which isn't really a bad thing but it's come to be very noticeable after the handful of titles that have already come out.  All characters have very unique designs, most being quite interesting.  Environments have plenty of detail though nothing in the generic scenery really makes much of an impression.  One complaint I can give on the graphics comes in the final case of the game.  A sprite for a wooden cart that becomes a significant part of the case, is drawn with absolutely no perspective.  In a semi-top-down game, this is a glaring flaw as it makes the cart appear not only paper-thin but as if it's constantly 'standing' on an angle.  As for the characters' sprites (not referring to their conversation portraits but rather how they appear during investigation gameplay) they're well done with plenty of nice little animations for each personality.
Last but not least: Story.  This is where the focus of the review comes.  I'm a fan of the Ace Attorney series because I highly enjoy mystery stories and the series never disappoints in delivering them.
Each case in the game is very well-constructed, having you scratching your head as you progress and hitting the oh-so-wonderful adrenaline rushes each time you figure something out.  And, of course, the witty dialogue that's carried the charm of the entire series is here too.
The game makes occasional references to other titles in the series as well, though not in a way that would force players to know what they're talking about.  However, I've not played Trials and Tribulations in ages so I was left in the dark for one reference.  It's also interesting to note that Phoenix himself never makes an appearance or is outright mentioned, but he gets his fair share of references anyway.
In the end, I can only think of a few things to say.  Certainly, this is not a game for everyone.  There are people who will be turned off by the extremely heavy dialogue which is pretty much the entire game.  Nonetheless, fans of the series and mysteries in general should have a look at this title.  The characters are fun, the stories are enjoyably intricate and the whole experience is right at home in the Ace Attorney series. Just don't expect it to be a revolutionary title.

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