Monday, 14 February 2011

Ace Attorney Investigations - No danger of Stockholm Syndrome here

A great final twist saved this case from being kinda dreadful, but overall it was still underwhelming. I'm on the edge, about to jump and declare this game a disappointment but there are still two cases to go, so I'll maintain some patience and see how it unfolds. For a game that should be simple, the main appeal of the original trilogy being fun scenarios and characters rather than gameplay, it feels extraordinarily complicated despite the fact that so far it's been even more linear than the first half of FFXIII. Every situation you find yourself in is force-fed and every solution is bizarrely different, there's no rhyme or reason to it.

Another thing that's force-fed is the separation of chapters. I've complained about it before, but the cut off points don't feel natural. They probably should have just eschewed them; Just because they were in previous Ace Attorneys doesn't mean they had to be shoehorned into this one. It's odd that they waited until the third case before introducing Agent Lang and Kay. The characters on the box have in the past all been introduced by the second case and with the fourth case being a flashback, that could leave Lang especially as almost a peripheral character rather than a cover star.

"The Kidnapped Turnabout" spoilers after the jump.

The timing of these cases is all messed up. This apparently takes place after the second case, and with the appearance of Prosecutor Federer and Buddy Faith right at the end, it apparently happens before the first case. With the fourth case being a flashback and the fifth being the finale, that means the first case is actually the fourth chronologically. Confused? I sure am. There's also a point at each you can be over saturated with cameos and callbacks, and "The Kidnapped Turnabout" definitely went overboard with it. I loved the Phoenix Wright trilogy, but I didn't need to be reminded of them every five seconds!

The core plot of this case was pretty much directly stolen from case 3-4 "Turnabout Beginnings, with an almost identical kidnapping and a compressed timeline leading to the murder, making the outcome predictable. The twist before the final chapter with Ernest trying to protect his son was novel, but not enough to completely save it.


Ernest Amano
A wealthy old dude who bankrolled Edgeworth's early career. The gigantic size of his earlobes gives away his unscrupulous nature, which is confirmed when he attempts to sabotage the investigation in the final chapter but Edgey and Kay are able to thwart him. Seems he's involved in the smuggling ring too.

Lance Amano
The true killer. As soon as he showed up in person, I knew for sure that he was not really kidnapped and figuring that it would not be two docile female killers in successive cases, suspected his true nature shortly thereafter. Apparently he's popular with the ladies. It must have more to do with his father's wealth than his looks.

Kay Faraday
Every Ace Attorney needs a perky teenage sidekick, and Kay is Edgeworth's! She claims to be the Yatagarasu, the Legendary Great Thief in search of the truth and carries a gadget called the Little Thief, ostensibly a training simulator but used practically as a crime scene replicator. I like her, she's cute and funny but I can't help wishing she had a chance to meet and work with Phoenix.As good as she is with Edgeworth, the fireworks would really go off if she ever got together with the original little girl babysitter.

Shi-Long Lang
An Interpol agent from China Zheng-Fa who's arrogant, forceful and generally a bad ass. He's an ass towards Edgeworth, assuming him to be corrupt but seems to warm towards him as the investigation proceeds. With bizarre metaphors, regurgitating axioms by his venerated ancestor Lang-Zi and even a strange looking headpiece (cross shaped sunglasses) he sets up as this games Godot. Except not as awesome. Yet? His catchphrase is "NOT SO FAST!" It doesn't work as well as "OBJECTION!"

Lang's secretary who wears a black cheongsam and never says anything unless he calls on her for something. She's pretty cool looking and very suspicious if you ask me.

Oliver Deacon
The victim, a convicted felon coerced by Lance into going along with the kidnapping scheme. He apparently flips out for no explained reason and tries to kill Lance which leads to his death. There are too many plot holes involving this guy and his murder to list here, this case was pretty much a mess.

Mike Meekins
The error prone officer returns as the initial suspect apprehended by Lang. He was apparently conducting an investigation of his own while undercover as the Blue Badger.

Lauren Paups
The second suspect, a party to the kidnapping plot and a childhood friend of Lance. She is supposedly his girlfriend, but becomes the latest in a long line of girls crushing on Edgeworth. She's kinda dumb, all things told. It's not really explained what happens after she's fooled into thinking that she committed the murder, but I'm sure it made no sense.

Ema Skye
Ema is back but as much as I like her, there is no good reason whatsoever because she does nothing apart from having an adorable conversation with Kay.

Security Lady
Yet another unnecessary blast from the past. She seems to get more hideous with every outing!

Jake Marshall
Just a reference, not an explicit one, but the cactus in the wild west area of the theme park is Billy, from his security post in case 1-5

Viola Cadaverini
Another reference only, in a letter sent to Lance demanding repayment on a loan in her distinctive style.

The bellboy from case 1-2 returns wearing the Proto Badger costume, but his face remains unseen.
Max Galactica
Referenced in the stadium area as the act to be engaging in a magic duel with...
Troupe Gramarye
...the Brothers Gramarye. Gosh all the magicians suck, the Gramaryes for being annoying and having an annoying theme song and Max Galactica for being involved in the worst case bar none of the original trilogy.

The Gavinners
Also referenced at the stadium are Klavier's band. Fangirls love him but I always thought he was a little bland, and it's just plain unfair that he ends up beating Phoenix even though that trial was rigged.

I'm not sure how long the fourth case, the flashback is. The example of Trials & Tribulations would suggest not that long, but the second and third case just concluded seemed very short indeed! So maybe they're saving it up for these last two. I'm still looking for the game to provide a little more of an open world. It feels like the concept of the fully realized environments has not been taken advantage of to its full potential. It's also just not the same without the courtroom...

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