Thursday, December 5, 2013

Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies (3DS) Review

It's no secret I like the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games.  After playing the first one, and getting gripped by the story, I enjoyed the next two games almost as much.  The Edgeworth and Apollo Justice games failed to grab me in the same way, so I was happy to see the next game in the series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies was a return to playing as Phoenix (and a really long name).

The previous games all had amazing sprite animation, so I was a bit hesitant when I saw that Capcom transitioned it into cel-shaded 3D graphics.  It's not quite as good, but they are still done really well.  The returning characters and all their various animations are faithfully represented.  New characters have lots of animations and fit right in with the rest of the cast.  Also, the 3D effect in the game is the best I have seen to date in a game.  Besides all the playable parts being in 3D, the animated sequences are also in 3D, and they look amazing.  This is so far the only game that I would actually recommend playing a lot with the 3D slider on.

The flow of the game is relatively steady.  You start off with a bit of story to set the (murder) scene, and the body is quickly discovered.  You will gather some clues and talk to witnesses, piecing together some of what transpired.  You will then defend your client in a courtroom battle.  For any subsequent days (the legal system in the game allows for a maximum of a three day trial), you will do another investigation and then another courtroom section.  The game can be played completely on the touch screen, or you can opt to use buttons.  I usually use buttons for forwarding through text and selection locations to go to, and the touch screen for various other functions.  One nice upgrade from previous games is the checkmarks on places and objects you have already investigated.  No more poking around and hoping to find the exact pixel you need, since you can readily see what you have and haven't investigated yet.  This makes it harder to get lost and/or stuck during parts of the game.

If you have played any of the other Ace Attorney games, you know that there is an overarching plot that is connected to each case and gets resolved in the final one.  The same is true here.  The connection is not readily apparent, but by the end you will see how it all connects together.  It's really well written and the dialogue and details tie into the main plot.  Well, almost all of the details.  There were a few things that probably aren't that important that just seemed to be dropped as the plot moved on.

Without spoiling the story, there was a part during the fifth and final case where I thought we were going to have a crazy courtroom showdown, but it ended up not happening.  There's also a twist that is well concealed, and ends up making sense, but I didn't want to happen.  Mostly because it involves a character I liked.  Besides that, there is some character development for Apollo Justice that makes him better in my eyes.  If this game had come first, I would have been happy to play the game starring him, and I wouldn't have felt like he was just some terrible replacement for Phoenix.

The returning mechanics of Psyche-Locks (for Phoenix) and perceiving people's lying (Apollo) are accompanied by new character Athena's emotional perception.  During certain testimonies, she will turn on her computer (called Widget) and be able to sense the emotions of the witness.  It is a fun mechanic, but it is definitely a video game mechanic.  Most of the lines when pointing out things just feel silly, like "when you talked about that last part I sensed some happiness".  If you are willing to look past the awkwardness of it, it's a fun mechanic and not too hard to use.  Also, I should note that it feels like Apollo's ability has been made easier.  He can perceive people's tells when they are lying, and they felt much easier to spot in this game.  It might be because you don't use it very often, but I had no trouble spotting them this time.

There are five chapters, and each one can take about 1 and a half to 3 hours each, depending on how much extra pressing and talking you do.  Knowing exactly which item to present and when to do it will, of course, cut down that time.  Like the previous games, the first case is also a tutorial, but thankfully it is a longer case and feels more like a "real" case than a tutorial one.  There isn't much reason to replay the cases, other than re-experiencing the story, or to try and pick up any foreshadowing that you didn't realize was there.  Thankfully, you can jump to different points in each chapter, so you wouldn't have to replay the whole thing if you only want to redo a specific part.

Dual Destinies has some DLC, the first of which was a costume for each of the three main characters.  It was free for the first month, and it was worth it to put Phoenix in his old getup.  Yeah, it's pretty similar to his new stuff, but I had him in the old suit for the whole game.  There's also at least one new case you can buy for an extra $6.  The other Ace Attorney games had 4 or 5 cases, so I don't feel like this was content cut out of the final game so it could be sold separately.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is a great game.  The story is really good, the dialogue is top notch, and the 3D is the best I have experienced to date.  It might not be quite as good as the first game, but it is still a game that fans of the series should play.  If you haven't played any of the Ace Attorney games, I highly recommend starting from the beginning and play through at least the first three.  Although, you don't need to know much about them to enjoy Dual Destinies, since they explain all of the important stuff from previous entries.  If you like deep involved stories, or even battles of wits in the courtroom, give the game a playthrough and you'll have no objections!

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