Miles Edgeworth – Ace Investigations Review

I won’t rest until I’ve investigated every suspicious nook and cranny!

I admit I’m late to this party, but nevermind. I couldn’t review the game until I’d completely finished it, and really there isn’t a whole lot to say about a DS game like this one. ME:AI is more or less what you’ve seen before in a slightly different wrapping; you play as Miles Edgeworth investigating all sorts of crimes. Now on one hand, this sounds awesome – pointing out criminals should be fun, as should taking part in a police investigation or whatever. Ironically we did all of this in Phoenix Wright. Actually why the hell was Wright a defense attorney? He should have just been a goddamn prosecutor or a private investigator, he did enough of it to easily transfer across. And I think this is the biggest flaw with ME:AI – we’ve already been there, done that, just with “Attorney” instead of “Investigations”.

The storyline is wedged between the events of the last Phoenix Wright game and before Apollo Justice, which suits just fine. Edgeworth returns from some flight and finds some asshole has broken into his office and been killed. The first major difference you’ll notice is that instead of having a static scene in front of you, you now walk around like a tool examining things. On one hand, this is kind of interesting and it makes the scenery a bit more varied. On the other hand, it’s a poorly disguised attempt at avoiding the “TAP-EXAMINE” mechanic that was integral to the Wright games. Fortunately this game has the decency to lock you into a certain area until you’ve found all there is to be found. You talk to various people and check out bits of evidence, sometimes rotating them in 3D, and collect a bunch of clues. These clues can lead to “Logic” points, which need to be linked. For example, a “white patch” could be liked to “white paint can” to get Edgeworth to think of something like “This white paint can was turned white by that patch of paint!”

Does that sound implausible? Were you thinking “The white patch came from that paint can?” Some of the Wright storylines bordered on the farfetched and arrived at some illogical conclusions. This game is no exception, and later on you’re expected to swallow even more ridiculous statements. This isn’t really a spoiler, but later on a partner uses a device to “simulate” a crime scene by inputting “data” to generate a representation of what the scene looked like. Unfortunately the writers let this thing do WAY too much with practically zero information, and some “facts” appear which you couldn’t possibly know from the data you’re given. How this machine manages to determine these facts is anybody’s guess. For all I know, it could just make shit up. Seriously, who were they kidding with this?

The writing is fairly good, as you’d expect from a game like this, but the writers need to go back to English classes. “A-due” is the one that bothers me the most. They use it quite a bit and it’s FRIGGIN’ WRONG. If you’re going to make someone talk like a pompous ass, at least get it right. There are quite a few twists and turns in the storylines (it wouldn’t be an “Ace Whatever” game without a turnabout after all) so it’s at least entertaining. The biggest problem is that it’s the same game as we’re used to in a slightly different coloured package. Also there are no characters that have the same depth as someone like Godot, no villans as insidious as Gant, and really, nothing to really grip you until the end. It’s entertaining, but there’s been better stories from this series. The end case is suitably epic but at the end of the day, I just couldn’t make myself care about it. The ultimate criminal is pretty cool but they comes off as a cheap knock-off of Chief Gant.

There’s no court room sequences in this game at all. That’s not really a spoiler either. You don’t fight it out in court. Instead you have “debates” with people, which function EXACTLY the same way. Still, after shoving court sequences down our throats, why didn’t they march us off to the court room again? It’s not like the game mechanics have changed, it’s just a new coat of paint on the same building. You see Edgeworth going apeshit in court all the time, and now he never sets foot there? Okay, you do get to see the courtroom as part of the storyline, but you don’t do much else than see it.

Judging this game is fairly difficult. On one hand, it’s entertaining. On the other, it’s not great. The first and last Wright games were better. The writing here is entertaining, but it’s not quite as good as the others. It’s fun, and if you liked the series you’ll like this one, but honestly why did they bother trying to “change” the formula? All they’ve done is put different paint on the same game. That’s not being smart. That’s not being anything.

I don’t give out ratings for graphics and so on for an NDS game. It seems sort of unfair to me to do something like that given the platform. In all, this game is reasonably entertaining, but the writing is starting to get a bit farfetched, and their attempts to make this game “different” are just cynical changes of scenery and location. Why they didn’t stick to the old formula is beyond me; the courtroom antics are far more entertaining than what goes on here. Then again, what do I know?


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