Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Miles Edgeworth is worth picking up if you're an Ace Attorney fan, as the cameos are delightful
- It retains the same quirkiness and humour that made the franchise so memorable and beloved
- Most of the cases are too easy and simple, not a single appearance from series star Phoenix Wright
While Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth may not boast the same level of freshness and depth as earlier Ace Attorney instalments, it still offers up enough quirky humour and addictive, attorney-based gameplay to keep franchise faithfuls playing.
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Some five years ago, certain small, niche-y corners of the gaming world were buzzing about something called Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, a point-and-click game for the DS. It was hardly the kind of thing to garner acclaim or even widespread attention, but it ultimately proved to be a quirky and memorable franchise; it gained a cult following and sold well enough to warrant several sequels. I was a couple years late onto the scene, but I was hooked the moment I found myself cross-examining a parrot and ate my way through the next few games with something bordering on fanaticism. There's something about the irreverent humour and zany characters that draws you in, and I -- along with every other Ace Attorney fan -- have been eagerly anticipating the release of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, a spin-off featuring the series' beloved, cool-as-a-cucumber prosecutor. Now that it's here, I'm happy to report that it's a great bit of fanservice but it's an uneven effort that doesn't quite live up to expectations.
As with previous Ace Attorney games, there are still two modes: an investigation mode where you search for evidence, and a cross-examination mode where you present evidence to point out contradictions in testimony. But unlike previous games, where you spend the first half of a case investigating and the second half in a courtroom, this game makes an effort to blend the two organically; in fact, you never even step foot in a courtroom at all, tackling all of your cases at various locales instead. Aside from that, most changes are minor and solely focused on the gameplay: the visuals are identical to previous instalments. Investigations now take place in only one location, and you move a little sprite around the room to check for evidence rather than a cursor; it's a cosmetic change at best, though I should note that the stylus controls are rather awkward. You also get a completely superfluous "partner" button, where you can engage in interaction with your current partner, whether it's the bumbling Detective Gumshoe or your brand-spankin' new spunky female sidekick Kay Faraday.
A feature called Logic tries to add something new with mixed results: As you look for evidence, you pick up little Logic pieces, which manifest as text bubbles on the touchscreen, and you connect them to form deductions. After you have made all the necessary deductions, the investigation is complete and you enter cross-examination mode with the appropriate witness. From there, you move to a new location, and repeat the entire process over again until you resolve the case. Logic doesn't add any challenge, but it does help the player's understanding of what's going on, which makes the cases easier to solve.
The repetitive gameplay might seem like a weakness -- the formula hasn't changed much since the first Ace Attorney -- but it didn't really bother me because I love the franchise and it's obviously meant for fans or newcomers who haven't yet grown tired of the series; rather, it was the lack of difficulty that I objected to the most. Leaving out the first case, which is the usual thinly veiled tutorial, the next three cases felt incredibly phoned in. The majority of the characters are cameos from previous games, and the new characters lack the over-the-top zest of previous installations. The wolfish Agent Lang is the only one that can ruffle Edgeworth's cravat and produce any humour or chemistry. The new style of gameplay is so linear that it's almost impossible to get stuck, and the hints are so heavy you could use them as blunt instruments.
The fifth and final case, however, completely blew me away, and it's almost enough to carry the game. It's as long as the three previous cases combined and filled with the sort of twists and OMGWTFery that made Phoenix Wright such a cult favourite. It's actually challenging and entertaining, something I can't say about the other cases, and it made me wonder why the entire game wasn't this good.
Miles Edgeworth is worth picking up if you're an Ace Attorney fan, as the cameos are delightful -- keep your eyes peeled for Lotta Hart! -- and the cases are still interesting enough, even though they're far too easy and much too predictable. Newcomers to the series will have reasons to enjoy it as well, as it's a good showcase of the formula, but if you never bought into the courtroom hijinks, this is one you can safely ignore.
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