Forget Dante, Kratos, and Solid Snake. The demon prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is without doubt the coolest character that video games have bestowed upon us to date. His charisma, razor sharp wit, and impeccable dress sense have proved that you don't need to kill people to look cool. In a sea of burly, bandana-wearing space marines, Miles Edgeworth and the vibrant cast of the Phoenix Wright series offer some much-needed subtlety, which the 'roid-popping meat-heads of recent times are severely lacking. With Phoenix Wright barely mentioned in the game, Miles has the spotlight all to himself; the perfect choice for the lead role in Capcom's fifth Ace Attorney outing.
The awkwardly named Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth swaps the defence attorneys of previous games with their prosecuting rival, Miles Edgeworth. Don't expect the likes of the justice-obsessed Phoenix Wright, or his young protégé Apollo Justice - Investigations is all about Edgey - the demon prosecutor who will do anything for a guilty verdict. Although a long-time rival of the blue-suited do-gooder Phoenix, Edgeworth also has an obsession for revealing the truth, and has even been known to take to the stand as a defence attorney while Phoenix was injured. He may have a ruthless streak, but his heart is certainly in the right place.
The protagonist has changed, but Investigations is still an Ace Attorney game through and through. Perhaps the most important difference here is that the action is no longer restricted to the court room, but still rigidly follows the formula set by its predecessors. Each of the five cases revolves around a mystery that needs to be solved, and a set of characters relevant to that mystery. In the first case, Miles finds a dead body in his office, with leads pointing to numerous suspects. Through unearthing evidence, talking to characters and exposing contradictions in their testimonies, you slowly work towards the inevitable truth.
Where previous games limit the action to static conversation screens, Investigations allows players to take physical control of Miles in order to explore crime scenes and other areas of interest. The third person camera offers a refreshing change in pace, giving the standard point-and-click gameplay an interesting new perspective. After discovering a clue or vital piece of evidence, it's up to Miles to somehow connect it to the mystery.
Much like the defendants who take to the stand in court, suspicious characters will offer testimonies in order to assert their innocence. These testimonies need to be scrutinised, and then ripped to shreds using Miles' prosecuting skills in order to expose lies. This takes the form of a verbal fist-fight, where each statement can be 'pressed' in order to extract more information. Once the lie or contradiction has been pinpointed, evidence must be presented in order to prove it. The classic 'Take That!' and 'Objection!' phrases that have made the series famous return, meaning you can still shout into your DS like a loon in order to bring the truth to light. Just be sure not to do it on the bus.
As well as this, Investigations introduces a new Logic mechanic, which enables Miles to connect two clues together in order to establish a more concrete piece of evidence. As Edgeworth thinks of himself as a logical person, this new feature suits the game and its new protagonist down to a tee, and spruces up the usual adventure puzzles nicely.
Sometimes, however, a perfectly sound piece of logic or relevant piece of evidence won't be acknowledged by the game, draining your equivalent of a health bar as a result. In other words, what makes perfect sense as a solution in your own head won't be recognised as an appropriate answer. Unfortunately, the game occasionally forces the dreaded tactic of trial and error, which in a game that for the most part relies on well thought-out answers and satisfying explanations, doesn't go down all too well. Still, this is far from game breaking, just something that could have been avoided with a slightly tighter question or a more flexible range of answers.
The new features are certainly a welcome addition to the series, but at its core, Investigations still relies on the same attributes that have made the series such a success in the past, namely: the exuberant characters and the fabulous script that brings them to life. The script is particularly slick, with a firm grasp on the English language that provides clever puns and frequent laugh-out-loud moments. The localisation is fantastic - an area of development that often goes without compliment in game journalism today.
I've already expressed my undying love for Edgeworth, but the cast of characters that support him are just as entertaining. The amiable Dick Gumshoe returns, along with his simple nature and irrelevant ramblings. So too does Franziska Von Karma, the whip-cracking daughter of Miles' mentor - Manfred Von Karma. The game introduces several new characters too, most notably seventeen year-old Kay Faraday, whose enthusiasm and excitement could be likened to Maya from the original games. The over-arching plot they all contribute towards is as interesting and exciting as the characters themselves, and won't loosen its grip on you until you complete the final chapter.
If you haven't played an Ace Attorney game before, this might be a difficult one to start with, as recurring characters and events from previous games pop up left, right, and centre. That's not to say a newcomer to the series couldn't have fun with it, but they may miss out on a few things aimed at long-time fans of the series. Take, for instance, Miles' fear of lifts and earthquakes, or the recurring joke of how he can never get a witness to state their name. There's a lot here that will be wasted on the newcomer, which isn't a flaw with the game as such, but an issue that should be raised nonetheless.
While it might not be for newcomers, Ace Attorney Investigations will leave fans of the series squealing with delight. The game is as witty, charming, and engaging as ever, with new features that fit perfectly in place with the new protagonist. The all important plot is as compelling as you'd expect, with larger than life characters jumping out of the screen thanks to some outstanding scriptwriting. Investigations is a wonderful addition to the series, and proves that the series still has much to offer despite concerns that it was becoming ever so slightly formulaic. Roll on Ace Attorney 5.