For those of you who may be wondering how the newest game in the fantastic Phoenix Wright series is and whether you should pick it up or not...well, I am here to tell you how it is. Having completed the game yesterday and looking back at my experience I am ready to give the people at Negative World my review on this title and to satisfy that burning question in your mind: How good is AAI: ME and what does it bring to the table? Please be aware I will include some spoilers so I'll black them out...READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
*Enters Logic Mode and looks at available information: Graphics, Gameplay, Story, Audio, and Replay Value.*
*Graphics chosen and connected to previous game graphics*
Graphically, AAI is very good and it's clear that the sprites were made with the DS in mind, as opposed to the sprites from the previous PW games, save Apollo Justice. Characters are very crisp, textured well, and they now appear to have better shadowing and detail. Not only that, but their animations are also more detailed and improved upon as well, especially when moving around the walkable areas with Edgeworth and his trusty sidekick Dick Gumshoe (or others). Even those sprites are animated and pleasant to look at, too, and their many different reactions have been updated from the previous games to remain familiar, but the extra horsepower of the DS allows them to look even better. Crime scenes and areas are also detailed and areas of interest, while hidden, are not impossible to find and you'll never get confused as to what is what and whether or not something is actually a clue, or just a visual red herring.
For now, given what I know I can logically conclude that graphically this game was given a lot of attention and therefore receive Edgeworth's 'Seal of Approval'.
*Gameplay chosen and connected to previous gameplay*
Gameplay is very similar to the previous PW games in that it follows the 'Investigation/Court' idea, but instead you get 'Investigation/Logical Rebuttal' for Edgeworth, and all showdowns (save one) are done outside of a true court setting. The lower DS screen works pretty much like the screen in other PW games, but during the investigations you'll actually see Edgeworth and Gumshoe on the upper screen and can move them around via the stylus or D-Pad. Stylus movement can be a little tricky and overly sensitive at times, making examination and talking a little troublesome, but you can always use the D-Pad for more precise movements. I didn't have much trouble navigating around using both methods and you shouldn't either after a little adapting since in the first games you would only examine a set screen and not truly walk around.
During the investigation portions you will have plenty of things to examine that are both related to the case, or other things that may not have any bearing on the current case, but will illicit some humorous responses from the cast. Since this is the main meaty section of the game you will spend most of your time investigating, and Edgeworth is more than equipped for the job. Like the other PW games you can examine things, some of which will warrant a closer look and here is where the two new things come into play: Logic Mode and Deduce.
Logic Mode is a way for Edgeworth to store certain clues that he won't put in his Organizer (same thing as the Court Record and like the 5th case in PW: AA and AJ you can examine most evidence in 3-D, and often times you will find very important tidbits to use later on), but rather he files them away in his mind. For example, you may find a set of lockers below a window that could be used as an access/escape point, but with no real way to jump on top of them. In that case, Edgeworth will store that clue away, and then later on he might come across a ladder that might be a nearby clue as well. With both of those in the Logic area you can select both and choose to "Connect" them, which results in Edgeworth using the ladder to climb atop the lockers. HOWEVER, this isn't the only use for Logic as some clues you will hang onto for some time and won't get an immediate response until later on in the case. Also, connecting existing logical clues may yield new evidence, or even new logic for you to think about. Overall, Logic Mode isn't incredibly difficult to use, but it is a nice addition all the same.
Deduce will sometimes pop up where you would normally see the "Present" button on the lower screen. Deduce is Egeworth's way of looking at a particular scene and realizing that some detail doesn't fit. It could be something that contradicts evidence you have in your organizer, such as a bullet hole in something being at the wrong height compared to a victim's entry wound, or testimony given by an eyewitness that doesn't match up with what is shown in the crime scene. Selecting the right piece of evidence and then hitting the Deduce button will have Edgeworth shouting "EUREKA!" and then you will be rewarded with new evidence, logic, or something else. Most deductions are easy to figure out, but some will have you scratching your head and then kicking yourself when you realize how obvious it was. All in all, it's a nice addition to the game
Now, for the 'Rebuttal', or 'Argument' portions. These work exactly like the court hearings in that you first listen to a witness's/accuser's line of logic as to what they saw or why something happened, and then Edgeworth works to punch holes by finding contradictions. You can either press to find more information or present evidence with a commanding "OBJECTION!" followed by Edgeworth confidently shooting down the faulty logic of whoever his opponent is. As usual, some opponents will not go down without a fight, and will stubbornly refuse to admit defeat until they are utterly crushed with no way out, and here you will see the difference in Edgeworth's and PW's attitudes. Phoenix sometimes seemed to bumble along at times until he nailed the right answer while Edgeworth keeps his cool most of the times and gives his opponents a finger-waggle or a clam flex of his shoulders and a smart grin that says, "I knew it all along, and now I will proceed to show you that you are no match for me!"
Of course, that doesn't mean Edgeworth is invincible in battle, as he/you will make mistakes ad to penalize you for your errors there are snarky remarks thrown back at you and damage to your life bar. Indeed, the life bar from JFA onwards has returned, but mistakes are not as costly as they were in some of the previous games. Also, I didn't encounter any portions where there was a "One strike and you're out" ordeal, but I could be wrong on this. What I did see was that (save for the final 'battle') mistakes take away the same amount of life be it on an investigation, logic, deduce, or argument phase. To get a life refill you successfully complete the current investigation scene you are on, and you have a generous amount of mistakes before Edgeworth gets thrown out and you lose. Being able to save at pretty much any point in the game can work around this, but again, you'll have plenty of chances to mess up and still make it out OK.
There is also one other very cool feature that was added to the game, but for the sake of spoilers I will blank them out starting now. During the 3rd case you will meet up with another character that will become another partner to you and she brings with her a very interesting device. Named "Little Thief" this device can recreate any type of scene so long as information is available about the setting and whatever else is needed to make a faithful recreation. As information is updated, so is the scene, such as the scene of a crime you no longer have access to, or even how a room looked before it was lit ablaze, etc, etc. Of course, updating information may jive with the evidence you have collected, and thus you will have to point out the contradictions, get new logic, and make new deductions, which can and will change how the recreated scene looks. It's a very cool device, though it's only used in two cases, and only twice between them, which is a shame because it was a very nice addition to the game.
The only real gripe I had with the game was that the last two cases (there are 5 total) can drag out a bit too long, and sometimes you'll have the answer long before it needs to be presented, but you'll have to move the story along before you can lash out with it. Also, the last case does has a liberal use of the "Deus ex Machina" mechanic, but I can forgive this because they were rather amusing in how they were presented. Still, I can see how this might put some off, though even with that the last battle is one where you will more than likely have a real disdain for the 'villain' and want to see him/her brought down for good.
Now, considering all of the evidence presented, I can confidently say that the gameplay is solid, and the new additions are enough to keep AAI fresh while still having that familar PW feel that fans have come to know and love. This sections gets Edgeworth's 'Seal of Approval'.
*Story chosen and connected to previous stories seen.*
As I said before AAI will span across 5 separate cases two of which will bring you back to the past and delve into events that happened directly before the first case, and as far back as several years into Edgeworth's life before he first prosecuted on the stand in Trials and Tribulations. Spoilers AHOY! The main story is that Edgeworth, Fransziska and an Interpol agent named Shin-Long Lang are trying to piece together information about the mastermind behind a very large international smuggling ring, as well as a mysterious 'noble thief' called the Yatagarasu. The Yatagarasu seeks to steal, but not money or valued treasures, but rather steals information regarding crooked deals and exposing them to the public when the law is unable to do so, though regardless, stealing is stealing in Edgeworth's mind. There are many twists and turns between the cases as the story unfolds, and at one point Edgeworth is accused of murder and has to prove himself innocent, which leads to further information regarding the smuggling ring.
Overall, the story is presented very well and the final case is definitely a good one...not as good as the final case in TaT, but it has a very good share of surprises and character unveilings that will have you rolling with laughter. There were also some spelling errors noted in the text, but they weren't terrible and given how much text is in this game it's not unreasonable that a few slipped through the spell checkers. Also, the writing has the familiar clever, but funny tone that you'll come to expect, as well as a fair share of pop culture and Internet references that will make you chuckle when you pick them out. Of course, it will get serious when the time calls for it, as well as each character's speaking lines fitting in perfectly with their personalities and individual quirks. Edgeworth gives this category his "Seal of Approval' thanks to its logical format and engaging plot that will keep you wanting to know what will happen next.
*Audio chosen and connected to previous game audio.*
Many of the audio cues from the first PW games return, and while this isn't -technically- audio, the screen shaking does as well, and it was a little overused, but it's not something that will detract from the game unless you're really looking for it. You'll still have the familiar "OBJECTION!" and "TAKE THAT!" from Edgeworth, the shock/amazement sounds, etc, etc, and they all fit in very well when they are used. Of course, the main meat in this section is the actual music, and AAI doesn't disappoint. You have some familiar themes returning like Edgeworth's "Revival" theme, as well as remixed classics like Gumshoe's theme, which you'll recognize right away. Given that Edgeworth is more of a classy guy than Phoenix or Apollo, you'll find that the music also follows suit with more emphasis on piano and instrumental sounds rather than more...shall we say...'technical' sounds found in the other games. However, it fits well with the tone of the game given that Edgeworth is the main character, especially when he starts to clamp down on his opponents and back them into a corner during an argument phase.
The music may not be as memorable overall as the previous PW games, but that doesn't mean it's a bad score. Indeed, as stated before it more than gets the job done, though you may not find yourself remembering some of the 'overworld' music when you're doing your crime scene investigation, but you'll certainly remember others, especially the 'Logic Mode' song, which IMHO is a perfect thinking tune. There are other tracks as well for more important individual characters, but I won't spoil those...nevertheless, they are good.
At the end of the day, Miles Edgeworth gives the audio his "Seal of Approval".
*Replay Value connected to previous Replay Value in other PW games*
Needless to say, this is one section where AAI can't boast itself too much. Once you finish the game you don't have much incentive to play it, and the last two cases might be a little long for your liking to want to play through them again. Of course, you could replay just to hear all of the funny wise-cracks the characters make and examine everything to make sure you heard every last tidbit, but it still boils down to the fact that you'll remember most of the answers to the testimonies and puzzles. However, as most people who will be interested in this game are already fans of the series this is nothing new to them, but is mentioned for those who might want to give it a shot.
Given this evidence, Edgeworth cannot reasonably give this section his 'Seal of Approval', but again, not necessarily a bad thing.
*Exit Logic Mode and begin final conclusion*
Ace Attorney Investigations is definitely worth buying if you are a fan of the PW series, though if you haven't played the previous games you'll miss out on a lot of character cameos and little throwbacks to the previous games. Average game length will last you around 15-20 hours, and the level of challenge is moderate, and sometimes you will get totally stuck, but usually not for long. The new characters overall aren't as memorable as the previous cast, though as said before, a good deal of them do make cameo appearances, or are actually there to provide clues and testimony to help/hinder you. But speaking strictly of the new characters...they are a likable bunch (or detestable for the bad guys) and some may not be who you think they really are...
*Edgeworth's Final Verdict with a decisive finger thrust*
Whew, I read all of that. I'm now more excited about the game, despite being currently a bit burnt out with Apollo Justice right now. This review gets no objection from me. [/obligatory pun]
I also took the liberty of switching the tag to "Words" so that the review is on the main page, for the whole world to see. If you want me to change it back, just tell me, and sorry if I overstepped my bounds.
I agree with it, for the most part. I haven't finished the game yet -- I'm currently in the fourth case, so I really can't comment on the last two being overly long. I was a little leery of the game at first, since controlling the sprites as they walk around is a little odd for the series. But I'm coming around to it, especially since while it is a spinoff, it's largely the same aside from the third person view. The new additions don't hurt the game, so I'm enjoying it as much as any entry in the series, and I can only assume I'll enjoy it even more once the final case ties everything together.
I just started and am at the beginning of the second case. Really enjoying it so far. It is still funny, well-written and enjoyable. Though I agree on the whole "I know what I need to do but the game wants me to do something else. GAH!" thing.
Brilliant review, pretty much nailed the game perfectly. I wish I had the time/motivation to put this sort of in-depth analysis, but I'm lazy:P.
For anyone else who's finished the game....did you think it weird that they nevere mentioned Phoenix by name? It was all oblique references like "a certain defence attorney" or Larry's "the guy in the blue suit". Was it just so they didn't alienate fans who might not have played the prior games and thus not known who Phoenix was?
Also the idea behind the Yatagarasu was hell cool. Kay hinted that she'd try and bring together some girls her own age to form a new Yatagarasu...potential spinoff starring Kay, Maya Fey and Ema Skye? :P
I have to agree about the Yatagarasu. I totally didn't expect the story behind that thief to turn out to be a ring of three people acting as one. I also totally didn't guess that agent Shin-na was really a double agent...at least until she started chuckling in that annoying tone and I instantly knew who it was. And to me, that's a sign of good writing...that you as the player think characters like detective Badd and even the prosecutor who got murdered had nothing at all to do with being the Yatagarasu, but they really were. Fooled me right up until the end and when the truth was revealed I was like, "Well done...got me good. TOTALLY didn't expect that!"
Not too much to say. Good game. Something held it back from being up there with the PW games for me though. I think I miss the super dramatic nature of the long court cases. Mixing that in with the investigation made it feel less dramatic I suppose.
One thing I did love is seeing Edgeworth / Franziska dynamics. Franziska especially was an interesting character to see from the "other side" so to speak. You get a better sense of what is driving her, and she actually feels like a good person interested in justice in this game. Albeit she still likes whipping everyone.