The latest entry in Capcom's legal comedy/thriller series features a new lead and a new perspective. Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth won't rest until he's discovered the truth in this brain-busting adventure.
- Terrific (and hilarious) writing
- Clever puzzles
- It's nice and challenging
- New features don't really add much
- Your logic isn't always the game's logic
- No replay value
For years, Miles Edgeworth has been relegated to the role of Phoenix Wright's chief rival, occasional temporary replacement, or -- if all that slash fiction is to be believed --lover, but now this prosecutor is getting the chance to shine in his very own game. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is the fifth installment of Capcom's popular series. Not only does it feature a new protagonist, but it moves the primary action out of the courtroom and onto the crime scene where Edgeworth collects evidence and pieces together clues to solve the mysteries put before him.
The game is broken up into multiple cases, and each one is its own self-contained mystery (although they all link together into an overall narrative). The case is solved by searching the crime scene for evidence, grilling witnesses and pointing out contradictions that pop up between the two. It may take multiple interrogations as new suspects arrive or existing ones change their testimony, but eventually you'll have enough information to crack the case.
In addition to the old crime-solving techniques, Edgeworth makes use of a few new abilities, the most basic of which is his use of logic. Yes, we've been mentally using logic in the Ace Attorney games forever, but now it's an in-game feature. While investigating a scene, Edgeworth will frequently make notes of various bits of information that he sees. When you determine that two clues might be related, you can attempt to connect them. If they are indeed relevant to each other, the resulting connection becomes evidence that can be used later in the investigation. Attempt to link unrelated topics and your Truth Gauge (i.e. your life bar) takes a hit.
The other new feature shows up later in the game. As if to spit in the eye of realism, Edgeworth gains access to a virtual reality device that creates a holodeck-style recreation of a crime scene, allowing him to explore and search for contradictions as the action unfolds. Sure, this requires a healthy suspension of disbelief, but the Ace Attorney series has never shied away from fantasy elements (Phoenix Wright regularly gets advice from his dead mentor for crying out loud). Although these new bits do mix up the typical Ace Attorney formula a bit, they really don't change the gameplay that much. They're basically a different spin on the franchise’s standard "look for tiny details and see how they relate to the big picture" routine.
Those puzzle-solving skills aren't all that's new, however. In a series first, you now have direct control over the main character as you move about the environment instead of the standard point-and-click controls. Gameplay-wise, this really doesn't add much to the experience, but seeing the sprites in motion really helps you connect with the characters. Little animations during these scenes such as the defeated sighs of the hapless detective Dick Gumshoe or fellow prosecutor Franziska von Karma's crazed whipping add to the cast's personality. Of course, during extended dialogue sequences, the game still employs large close-ups of the characters, complete with the series' frequent trademark funny animations.
It Pleases the Court
In fact, the game's sense of humor is one of its biggest draws. The Ace Attorney series has always featured terrifically written characters that are filled with life, and AAI continues that tradition. The script and character reaction shots are often hilarious; something that seems like it would be difficult to pull off in a game that features multiple murders. There are several new characters introduced here, and seeing how the spunky thief, Kay Faraday, and the gruff Interpol agent, Shi-Long Lang, play off of the stoic, and somewhat pompous, Miles Edgeworth is lots of fun. Fans of the series will appreciate the multiple cameos from past games as well.
Given the game's light-hearted nature, it can be easy to forget that there's a fantastic puzzle/logic game at its core. Solving these cases requires ample observation and the ability to notice and recall minute details, both in the visual evidence and in the testimony. There are only five cases to complete, but they're all rather lengthy, especially the further you get into the game. Don't be surprised if you spend a few hours tackling a single case. The cases are fairly challenging as well, but it's extremely rewarding when you finally figure out what evidence you need to present or what contradiction hides within a witness' words.
Not So Perfect Prosecutor
Sometimes, however, it can be a little frustrating when the game forces you to use the logic that it was programmed with when you've deduced a solution that could work. You may, for example, be able to think of a few perfectly reasonable ways to get Miles and Kay out of a locked room, but if it's not the proper method, you're out of luck. This heavily-scripted style of play also robs the game of any replay value.
Even with a few new features, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth doesn't stray too far from its roots, but many fans would probably argue that that's not a bad thing. The game retains all of the challenge and charm of its predecessors, and it's a treat to be able to play as the ever-smarmy Edgeworth. Hopefully this is the beginning of a series of spin-off titles based around different characters. A Dick Gumshoe game would be all kinds of awesome.