Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS
Genre Procedural point and click
Score Clock score of 7
Buy from Amazon

This game was a long time coming, but the true evolution of the Ace Attorney series has arrived with Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth.  After four games of playing as a defense attorney, we finally experience what it's like to play as a prosecutor, particularly fan favorite Miles Edgeworth.  Miles has been a staple of the series but mostly as an antagonist turned sort-of-friend, but now we get to take direct control of him in a series of cases surrounding a smuggling ring and a great thief.

I've played all the previous games in the series and reviewed the last two on this site, Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice.  While the games themselves are really long and haven't really evolved gameplay wise over the last five years, I'm still continually drawn to them year in and year out.  They just have this great charm to them that not only stems from great original writing, but also the best translations in the business.  A ton of effort goes into these games' stories and characters, and it shows.

So here's my review of Miles Edgeworth, in what could be the last game in the Ace Attorney series since the team has apparently moved on to a new game called Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.  I truly hope we see more from the Phoenix Wright universe one day though.


Gameplay: 6
Well, if you've played any of the previous games in the series, you pretty much know what to expect: lots of dialogue and some point and clicking.  This is all well and good because the game is more about the story it wants to tell than anything, but we finally get some much needed upgrades to the gameplay engine.  Yes, you can now directly control your character and walk them around the scenes of the crime.  This is a very cool (and obvious) feature that really makes you feel like you're a part of the world.  No more menu after menu of you telling the game you want to "Examine" or "Talk", now if you want to talk to someone you walk up to them and press the A button.  Seamless, nice, and should have been around years ago.

This new freedom actually seems to come with a price though, the game feels much more linear now (if that was even possible).  At least in the previous iterations of the series there were some cases that required you to explore and investigate multiple areas, piecing together various clues.  Now in Investigations, you're limited to just one area at a time, and for most of the game, just one screen.  Find all the clues on that one screen, talk to everyone, and boom, the game moves on.  I'm not sure if this is better or worse, it really depends on if you like to just progress the story or be challenged in putting things together and lots of guessing.  I suppose I'm actually in the first group, and enjoyed the speedier rhythm of the game.

Miles Edgeworth's gimmick is that he can use logic to piece together his thoughts.  It's relatively simple: after collecting what you think are two related ideas, just select and "connect" them together.  If you're successful, the story progresses and maybe another thought is revealed.  It makes a lot of sense considering the genre and characters, but it is just kind of... boring.  The game's other gimmick is this simulator that allows our heroes to recreate crime scenes, almost like a holodeck out of Star Trek.  It's severely underused though in my opinion, I can only think of three times in the entire game where it's brought out. Weird.

ace Attorney Investigations Miles Edgeworth Airplane

Fun Factor: 4
If you're a fan of the series, then you'll love Miles Edgeworth, otherwise there will just be cameo after cameo of characters and most of it won't make any sense.  Sure, the game can stand alone, but unless you're familiar with the characters' backstories, you won't enjoy it nearly as much as someone else who has played them all.  Plus, these games aren't really that much "fun".  They have their moments, of course, but they're too far away from each other to keep the momentum going.

Graphics and Sound: 9
With the addition of actual character sprites on the field, Investigations actually feels more like a real video game than just an interactive novel.  It's cool seeing all the main characters standing around, interacting, and generally just being an actual presence.  The character sprites are again top notch and the animations are incredible.  It's worth breaking down an opponent just to see their ultimate shocked reaction.  The series' excellent soundtrack returns with music for every intense situation the story can offer up.

Story: 7
I don't play a lot of games for their story, but the Ace Attorney series is one of them.  I'm continually drawn to the characters and situations, zany and unbelievable as they are.  The best part of Miles Edgeworth is that almost none of it takes place in the courtroom.  If there's one thing I'm totally sick of in the series, it's that you can spend hours and hours of reading dialogue in the courtroom with no change in scenery.  It can be incredibly boring and monotonous.  Investigations places all the battle of wits and logic out on the field, and mixes in lots of examining and investigations in between.  This breaks up the rhythm a ton and kept me intrigued as I never knew what was coming up next.

The game's story is presented rather uniquely for the series, most of the cases take place in something like a three day span, but their order is all mixed up.  The context of the mixed up order makes total sense in the game though, as the writers reveal what they want you to know when they want you to know it.  There's also the requisite flashback case that is essential in filling in all the backstories necessary to complete the story arc.

Like the last game in the series, Apollo Justice, there are a ton of cameos and returning characters.  Unfortunately, there's absolutely no sign of Phoenix Wright himself, who isn't even named anywhere in the game, just referenced as "that guy".  I found this really disappointing that they couldn't even find one line of dialogue somewhere to update us about his situation.  No Phoenix also means no Maya, Pearl, Trucy, or Apollo.  Basically the entire last game was kicked to the curb and forgotten, at least in terms of Miles Edgeworth.  The other usual cast of characters is around though, and some of them are as obnoxious as ever (Wendy Oldbag!).

Overall, the story is pretty godo, but it's lacking in any real character development.  Even the new character who "hates prosecutors" still admits to openly hating them in the epilogue.  Okay... was there any advancement in characterization at all?  Huge missed opportunity that could have put this game in a realm of its own.

Overall: 6
Like the last few games in the series, if you're a fan of Ace Attorney, this is a must-play, otherwise you will not miss anything by skipping it.  Probably worth checking out Ghost Trick when that comes out later this year if you're intrigued by the premise though, or start over with the first Phoenix Wright game.  You're guaranteed over 100 hours of courtroom drama if you start there.

ace Attorney Investigations Miles Edgeworth not so Fast