Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Final thoughts

After a grueling week on the final case I'm finally ready to post the final part of my Ace Attorney review.

Despite the sheer amount of pure ridiculousness that the game exudes it can handle a serious tone to the point of it being believable. In a world where corruption has shaped the law to its will, defendants are guilty until proven innocent, and murder has a statute of limitations, we find ourselves in the shoes of rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright, and in the final episode of the game he faces his greatest challenge. By the end of Episode 5 the amount of evidence I collected filled nearly four pages. I won't spoil anything, but the case is so long and so intense that the amount of relief I felt was completely un-matched by anything else I've done in a game. Stepping away from the final case for a minute, the game does a good job of throwing you ringers, in episode 4 I had constructed a perfectly reasonable and totally viable hypothesis, with what happened  what led to what happened, what was going on, why they did it, and who did it all linked together in an irrefutable bundle. Aside from the "Who" and the "Why", I was wrong, although I'm pretty sure it could have worked, and after all that was deconstructed I came up with a different hypothesis as to something else that was related as to why something wasn't found, and I was wrong. Capcom did a good job of putting this game together, leaving subtle clues that let you come up with an idea of how it happened and why things happened and then coming up with another solution that's equally reasonable and subtle, yet could be completely overlooked. As for the ending it either hinted at a sequel-hook or it was just clearing up the plot of Episode 5. I'm not sure what improvements were made from the GBA version since I haven't played it and I don't know Japanese, but I can say that the voice-recognition is a little wonky and the fingerprint-dusting mechanics are QUITE annoying since they require you to keep tapping the screen rather than just letting you run the stylus over the screen until the powder is covering the area. Fortunately they don't make you go out and buy more luminol and finger-print powder, you're pretty much got an infinite supply. The last episode is DS exclusive since it brings in a bunch of new mechanics that require use of the touch-screen. One of which is an examination tool that lets you rotate the item and zoom in and out, although there's no Z2 axis to the camera controls that would allow you to move the items up and down, and if you want to read text you're out of luck since it's so blurry, and you can't rotate certain items, just examine them. And it'd make sense if they allowed you to look through a cell-phones call-logs instead of just hitting "Redial", but NOPE!
Also, the game is set in 2016, but was originally made in 2001, so it features some dated tech and reasoning. One more thing I need to address is that there are certain areas with misspellings or grammatical errors, but those are actually few and far between. The setting varies, in Japan it's obviously set in Japan, but in the US it's set in California, as stated by one of the characters. Bringing this into account a discussion about the wild west was had in one of the cases, but one of the characters says "This is neither wild, nor west", even though you can't get much further west in continental US. That aside it's a game that makes you think a lot, and a game that likes to trick you. Pick it up if you've got a DS system (Although who doesn't by now?) it's a great game. For its few flaws I give it a 7.9*, it's good, and it's probably one of my favorite DS games, but it's got no replay value, and is sometimes a bit linear.

Completely forgot to mention this, the game has perfect atmosphere, two of the songs from the soundtrack actually made me cry for what they reminded me of in the game, and one piece of evidence...... I looked for a way to present it that wouldn't have the inevitable outcome, but there wasn't one. I had to force myself to press the "Present" button....... The characterization for everyone makes them feel human, and that's what a lot of games fail to do, present the characters to the player in a way that says "They have feelings, lives, hopes, and dreams". I'm looking forward to the next game in the series, I'm debating getting back to The World Ends With You until I work my way through my DS back catalog.