Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies Review
Is there a more exhilarating feeling in all of videogames than solving a case in an Ace Attorney game?
Finding that loose thread of lies and yanking on it, seeing the prosecution’s case unravel and fall apart, while some tremendous, triumphant music scores your victory. Phoenix Wright slamming his hands down on the table as he prepares to fire off another truth bullet at the unsuspecting witness, and of course – OBJECTION!
The first outing on the 3DS and the first ‘main series’ Ace Attorney game in about five years, Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies has gone quite a way to addressing the series’ few underlying issues.
The game revolves around Phoenix Wright’s return to the courtroom, alongside his understudy – the brilliantly named Apollo Justice – and new addition to his legal team Athena Cykes. As always, the game is divided up into individual cases, each with separate sections for gathering evidence and presenting it in court.
The Ace Attorney games have been following the same basic template for a long time now, and although being largely loved they do have some issues that haven’t been addressed.
For instance, and this is a big one, half of the whole gameplay is simply a bit dull.
The courtroom battle of wits has always been fantastic, with you trying to find the phrase in the testimony that contradicts a piece of evidence you have, but the pre-trial sections, when you’re gathering this evidence for the case, are pretty tedious.
Not rubbish, by any means, but going from scene to scene, asking people for information and pixel hunting crime scenes for pieces of evidence to be used later just isn’t that much fun.
This is no longer the case.
The whole process has been streamlined, allowing you to jump from location to location with far less faffing in menus. The crime scenes themselves have been given a 3D lick of paint too, now allowing you to look around and view them from different angles.
You’re no longer hunting blindly either, as areas of interest now highlight the cursor and are ticked off once investigated. There is even a notebook you can check if you’re ever confused as to what your next move should be.
It’s a slicker, streamlined Ace Attorney experience.
It’s also, for the most part, an all-new one. Don’t get me wrong, fans of the series won’t be getting bored of hearing “If something smells, it’s usually the Butz” any time soon, but it is understandable that some are a bit tired of seeing Wendy Oldbag trying it on with Miles Edgeworth game after game.
Now, almost all of the supporting cast – lawyers, witnesses, the innocent and the guilty parties – are all new and are all excellent. The fancy new graphics and animation also add a whole bunch of character to a bunch of characters who were already brimming with, well, character.
Having three different super-lawyers to play with this time around also gives you access to all three of their daftly-named powers.
These mini-games aid you during the courtroom clashes. Phoenix has his returning ‘Psyche Lock’, which allows you to dig out bits of information hidden from the testimony. Apollo Justice also still has his ability to see ‘tells’ in the person he is giving a cross-examination to. Finally, Athena has the ‘Mood Matrix’, which allows you to see which emotions a person is feeling when they deliver their testimony, allowing you to push them for further information.
Previous games have introduced these one at a time and have leant quite heavily on them, so having all three available at various points in the game leads to a lot more variety, rather than these abilities feeling a bit gimmicky.
As always, it is in the courtroom sequences the Ace Attorney games really shine. The contradictions are just as devious as ever, always a challenge to find but rarely requiring a massive leap of logic that would make the game an unfair chore.
There’s also a lot more multiple choice questions dotted throughout the cases, meaning that there are more opportunities for you to make mistakes if you’re not paying attention.
This means that it is a lot harder to ‘trial and error’ your way through difficult puzzles than it has been in previous games, which is a definite improvement. You’ve really got to consult all of your evidence and make a truly educated decision before you present something to the judge.
A final thing – who is it doing these localisations for Nintendo these days? This is another absolutely fantastic job, with moments of dialogue and puns that I’m convinced simply won’t translate back to the game’s native Japanese. Stick it up there with the Mario and Luigi games as another brilliant translation.
Longtime fans may not find it to be as thrilling as their first experience with the series, but the the new gameplay modes and tweaks to the investigations ensure that this is an excellent Ace Attorney game, just as the whole thing was starting to look a bit long in the tooth.
It looks lovely, has some fancy fully voiced cutscenes and combines all the best gameplay bits from the series to date.
It is also a great jumping on point for newcomers, thanks to the all-new cast of characters and cases. If this is indeed your first foray into the world of Phoenix Wright and friends, then I am insanely jealous.
Version Tested: 3DS