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Critical Reception: Capcom's  Ace Attorney: Miles Edgeworth

Critical Reception: Capcom's Ace Attorney: Miles Edgeworth

February 17, 2010 | By Danny Cowan

February 17, 2010 | By Danny Cowan
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This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Capcom's Phoenix Wright series followup Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, which reviews describe as "a simmering pot of gleeful happiness." Ace Attorney Investigations currently earns a score of 78 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Eurogamer's John Walker rates Ace Attorney Investigations at 9 out of 10. "Things might be different as Edgeworth takes the helm, but this is unmistakably an Ace Attorney game," he says. "It bubbles with joy, a simmering pot of gleeful happiness. The ridiculous world of outlandish characters, crazed enthusiasm and peculiar passion continues, despite this latest game being even more heavily focused on the topic of murder."

The franchise's narrative focus has changed dramatically, to account for the fact that Investigations' new protagonist is fan-favorite Ace Attorney prosector Miles Edgeworth.

"This is not a game about Phoenix Wright," Walker notes. "In fact, he's barely mentioned. This is absolutely about the red-coated anti-hero, telling five stories that through flashbacks span seven years, in the space of three days. And indeed, most significantly, this is not a game about the lunatic court process that formed the bulk of the rest of the series. In fact, you don't even see a courtroom until the fourth of five chapters, and then not as you might think."

Ace Attorney's core gameplay has also seen a number of changes. "Perhaps the most obvious feature change is the shift from first to third-person. To an extent. Miles is represented on the top screen as a small character, moved either with the d-pad or touch-screen, accompanied by whoever might be helping out in that story," Walker writes. "So in some respects it's like a traditional point and click - you walk near items to interact with them, walk up to characters to talk to them, and so on."

The game's story, however, lives up to expectations. "Edgeworth was an inspired choice to take the lead role. The cast is ever-changing and hilarious," Walker praises. "It's all so good-hearted your DS glows with warmth. It's bursting with happiness. And so am I when I play it."

Hilary Goldstein at IGN scores Ace Attorney Investigations at 7.6 out of 10. "Don't worry, even though the newest Ace Attorney takes place outside the courtroom, there's still plenty of exaggerated finger pointing, wacky characters, bizarre crimes and stupendous leaps of logic to satisfy fans," he assures. "It's good to have Ace Attorney back in fine form."

The Ace Attorney series storyline continues, adding new insight into Miles Edgeworth's background. "Each of the five episodes focuses on a different crime, though all of them tie together in unexpected ways, creating an overarching story," Goldstein explains. "You'll learn all about Miles Edgeworth's past, solving one of his older cases in a flashback and trying some new challenges."

The game's sense of logic may seem strange to newcomers, but will delight series fans. "The stories are strange, far-fetched and have giant plot holes," Goldstein warns. "In other words, they're great. Even though my brain was shouting, 'HOLD IT!' at the suspect logic of the crimes, I couldn't help but be curious about how everything turned out."

These sequences sometimes lead to frustration, however. "At its best, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is engaging, even charming. There are moments when the logic really clicks and the evidence needed to contradict a statement is obvious," Goldstein notes.

He continues: "At its worst, Ace Attorney is a frustrating exercise in trial and error gameplay, where you have to keep tossing out evidence in the hopes you pick the right one that somehow makes sense amidst a half-cocked story. Amazingly, both the good and the bad are tied to the same system. Sometimes it works great. Then moments later it falls to pieces and makes little sense."

"The Ace Attorney series has never reached a true level of excellence," Goldstein summarizes. "While there are some really strong elements added for Miles Edgeworth, the core is still trial-and-error gameplay."

At GamePro, Michelle Ma gives Ace Attorney Investigations 3.5 out of 5 stars. "While Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth may not boast the same level of freshness and depth as earlier Ace Attorney installments," she admits, "it still offers up enough quirky humor and addictive Attorney-based gameplay to keep franchise faithfuls playing."

Ma finds that Investigations brings little innovation to the Ace Attorney series. "Most changes are minor and solely focused on the gameplay," she writes. "The visuals are identical to previous installments. 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."

"A feature called Logic tries to add something new with mixed results," Ma continues. "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.

"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."

"Miles Edgeworth is worth picking up if you're an Ace Attorney fan, as the cameos are delightful (...) and the cases are still interesting enough, even though they're far too easy and much too predictable," Ma concludes. "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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