Now On: Bioware Social

Hey everyone, know I haven’t posted in a while. That happens. I never actually forget about this, but you know how life can be. That said, I still am interested in continuing the iGamer series, and it’ll definitely pop up again in the future. For now though, most of my online activity is on the Bioware Social Newtwork. If you like Bioware games, or me trying to be insightful while telling jokes at the same time, check it out. You only really need to like one for it to be worth checking out, really. You can pick me out by the name “Riknas” and my buffalo avatar.

That’s it for now!

 

Riknas, signing off!

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iGamer Reviews: Mass Effect (Infiltrator)

Published by EA.

Developed by Iron Monkey Studios.

For iOS and Android.

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And now in this issue of iGamer, I tackle one of the many mobile-games that were really just made to help promote big budget console and PC titles. But can Mass Effect: Infiltrator, stand up on its own? Let’s see and find out.

 

The Story

Like any good tie-in game, Iron Monkey Studios tries to carve a strong connection with its parent title. As such, Mass Effect: Infiltrator runs parallel to the story of Mass Effect 3, as you play the Cerberus operative “Randall Ezno”. To those that are not in-tune with the Mass Effect story, it should be noted that Cerberus is a pro-human terrorist organization, attempting to propagate the superiority of the human race. In what could be one of the most heavy-handed methods of storytelling, Randall becomes disillusioned with his organization and dedicates himself to bring down his former employers in his quest for contrived revenge.

While the storyline itself is entertaining enough, I feel that it bears mentioning that the key event that sets the story in motion is just painfully contrived, and the acting ranges from generic B-movie performance to outright awkward sounding. While it’s something I’ve come to expect from the studios, I’m definitely not giving them any bonus points for this.


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The Gameplay

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That said, I feel the gameplay is able to pick up the loose ends that the story leaves hanging. The controls are tight, responsive, and intuitive, which is no easy feat for a mobile title that gives you direct control of a character. You fire your weapon by clicking on your opponent, and then moving the reticle that appears onto your target. Depending on the weapon you use, the reticle will change. With the exception of the sniper rifle, your weapon will fire automatically and you focus mostly on the aiming. Headshots kill the enemy faster, and when you run the risk of your weapons overheating, the incentive to aim there is high enough without actually punishing you if it seems too difficult.

Along with that, the biotic (space magic) abilities are diverse and add more utility to your character. Just like the main Mass Effect titles, this is intended to provide options on how you build your character, as either Combat, Biotic, or Tech. Of course, in Infiltrator, this only actually translates as two and a half styles of play. Replacing “Tech” skills is a “Stealth” style of play. However, the Stealth function of the game is facilitated by a cloaking device that makes your character completely invisible. That said, investing in stealth mostly just makes your cloaking device recharge faster. As such, investing entirely in the stealth tree is hardly plausible by itself. Nevertheless, it can be used well in tandem with combat skills and biotics.

As an added tie-in, you can find “intel” throughout the game, which can either be sold for credits or uploaded to the Systems Alliance, which can translate into Assets for your character in Mass Effect 3. While not especially interesting, it is a nice feature.

Conclusion

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The Mass Effect Infiltrator is an entertaining title that costs about as much as its worth, being 7$ on Google Play and $7.50 in the U.S. iOS app store. I’m even willing to go so far as to say that it’s worth those two extra quarters if you want to play it on your iOS device, however as a product from EA, I feel like there is really something lacking for a big-name title like Mass Effect.

That’s all for now, Riknas, signing off! (Sorry I keep forgetting about this and the buffalo)

 

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iGamer Reviews: Infinity Blade II

By Chair Entertainment.

An Epic Games studio.

For iOS.

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Once again, I continue my highly belated reviews of not-so-recent but still high profile titles. This time, it’s Infinity Blade…II.

 

The Story

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Rather than a direct sequel to the original Infinity Blade, this title takes place after the E-Novel, Awakening. Awakening is what takes place right after the original title. While far from being necessary to understanding the story, reading Awakening is relatively quick and inexpensive.

Suffice to say, the scope of the story is now significantly larger than it once was, as your character, now named Siris, is determined to overthrow the God King and all of his kind, known as the Deathless, so that normal people may live freely once again. As such, Siris goes on his journey to rescue the one person that can stop them, known only as “The Worker of Secrets”.

The extremely vague storytelling of the first title has been almost entirely thrown out and replaced with exposition and direct clarifications for the main storyline, which could be good or bad, depending on your point of view. That said, I find the lack of subtlety to be somewhat distasteful, and takes away a good bit of the mystery the previous game had. Nevertheless, those who are determined to find all the hidden secrets the game has to offer, you can still see glimpses of the classic Infinity Blade experience.

The Gameplay

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Infinity Blade 2 takes the same general rules of the game, and then expands on it in every possible direction. The level layout has expanded greatly; no longer do you traverse through a small tower, but instead an entire castle complex. Secret passageways, treasure maps, and hidden bosses are just some of the new things that you will discover. The combat has been overhauled to include new fighting styles to go along with your shield and sword: now you have access to Heavy weapons and Dual weapons. That said, the changes are more than aesthetic, as both weapon styles handle different from each other. There is no blocking with dual weapons, instead you have access to a “low” dodge, allowing you to duck under the horizontal swipes you aren’t able to parry. On the other hand, you simply can’t dodge at all with the Heavy weapons, instead you are able to block in the directions you would normally be able to dodge. Along with the alternate play styles, they each have their pros and cons. Heavy weapons dealing more damage, dual weapons being able to string together more combos, and the sword-and-shield acting as the in-between style.

The amount of voice acting in the game has expanded greatly, and the fake, Italian-Esque language has been reformatted to standard english. That said, I find the actual quality of the voice acting to be extraordinarily ordinary. Remarkably unremarkable, even. Extremely okay, perhaps. At no one point is it especially bad, there is no particular point where I was not aware that I was listening to voice actors, as opposed to just enjoying the story.

The Catch

Infinity Blade 2 has the same Catch as the previous title.

The Conclusion

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Is it possible to suffer from too much greatness? Maybe, because if Infinity Blade 2 suffers from everything, it’s just from adding too much. The original Infinity Blade title, while seemingly complex, is remarkably simple compared to the sophomore title. Infinity Blade adds so many new layers, you can tell it’s not quite the level of console quality. But if having too much is your biggest problem, then you’re probably doing real well. Despite my few qualms, Infinity Blade 2 is a fantastic title for anyone looking for quality gaming on the iOS.

iGamer Reviews: Ace Attorney (Investigations)

By Capcom.

For Nintendo DS.

What can I say? I like Ace Attorney.

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Ace Attorney: Investigations is the fifth title in Ace Attorney series, which must suffer the burden of being a wildly popular franchise in Japan, while being only a cult-favorite in Europe and North America.

The Story

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Ace: Attorney Investigations is not only the second title to use a main protagonist beside Phoenix Wright, but also the first title to have you play as a Prosecutor. The Prosecutor is none other than the fan-favorite, Miles Edgeworth. Along with being an interesting change of pace, it also makes a lot more sense for the prosecutor to actually go after the murderer, since it’s, y’know, his job and all, instead of constantly having a defense attorney do it out of necessity.

In Ace Attorney: Investigations, Miles Edgeworth travels across the globe, constantly finding himself in various crime scenes which all happen to be loosely connected to each other, something which seems so fantastically unlikely, it’s a wonder Ace Attorney characters don’t also see unicorns and dragons in their day-to-day lives.

The GamePlay

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Ace Attorney: Investigations (I keep saying the full name so I don’t confuse it with the American Assocation of Immunologists) brings a lot of new things to the table, with the most obvious being the introduction of an interactive game world. Unlike the previous games, you can physically see and control Miles Edgeworth, directly interacting with the Crime Scene, instead of treating it solely like a point-and-click adventure game. This can give the player a more direct connection to the game, as well as be more visually stimulating in the first place.

Also unlike the previous games, the Edgeworth’s arguments aren’t just in the courtroom (actually, somehow they’re almost NEVER in a courtroom). Instead of Cross-Examining a witness, Miles Edgeworth gives a “Rebuttal”, pointing out the logical fallacies that his accusers, captors, and rivals (yeah, he’s not good at making friends) all manage to have. The rebuttals are frequent and spread well throughout the game, which I find to be a fantastic design choice, since that is where the game shines the most. The number of people that you meet is huge, and the nature of the crimes are plenty varied. There were a few times where I genuinely did not know who the culprit was, or expect the crimes to be as complex as they were.

The Conclusion

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Ace Attorney: Investigations is a fresh and new spin for the franchise. With actual sprites and a real world to interact with, this title has a more “tangible” feel than the other Ace Attorney titles had. This is a great entry point that helps highlight the best of what Ace Attorney has to offer, while offering new ideas without straying from its original purpose.

iGamer Reviews: Tower Defense (Lost Earth)

By Com2Us.

For iOS and Android mobile devices.

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Tower Defense is actually the very first iOS title I played on my iPhone, and I feel like I’ve been neglecting it for a way too long. That said, it’s time for it to have its own share of the limelight.

The Story

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To be fair, the Tower Defense genre is not well known for its especially exciting narratives. Actually, it’s not even known for having narratives in the first place. Having said that, Lost Earth goes out of its way to create a cohesive narrative for the gameplay. The general premise is that humanity needs a new place to live, and the colonists managed to pick one of the worst possible places available. Far from Oscar Award winning writing, I can safely say it is better than nothing.

It is a slowly progressing story presented with text-exposition and illustrations, which is just enough detail to add context to the development of the gameplay and, hopefully, keep your interest.

The GamePlay

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Lost Earth has the same basic format of every other Tower Defense title: Create a series of defenses to protect your base from seemingly mindless enemies, while continually upgrading said defenses as the number of mindless enemies increases.

That said, Lost Earth manages to stick to the simple concept, and does it reasonably well. There is a variety of mindless enemies, along with a variety of turrets which have different pros and cons leaving them better suited to eliminating certain types of mindless enemies. You collect resources by eliminating enemies, destroying rock deposits, and constructing generators in select locations. Along with that, the game sets you through a series of missions, placing your base in various environments, making certain towers more useful than others based on the geography.

As neat added features, there are achievements, difficulty settings, and even a fast forward button to make the missions progress faster, and add another layer of difficulty in its own way.

 

The Conclusion

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If you like Tower Defense games, this is a cheap and fun little title that I’m sure you will enjoy. However, don’t hold out for epic storytelling or something to revolutionize the genre. Then again, for only $3, it does a damn good job.

 

iGamer Reviews: Ace Attorney (Apollo Justice)

By Capcom.

For Nintendo DS.

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The Story

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Apollo Justice takes place seven years after the previous title, Trials and Tribulations, where the previous lead, Phoenix Wright, has been forced to give up being a lawyer, and instead is a pianist that also happens to play poker.

And, before you ask, no, you don’t play spend the game as Phoenix Wright playing the Piano. Rather, you play the new fledgling Defense Attorney, Apollo Justice. How does he have such a bizarre name? Well, apparently he was an orphan, so it’s entirely possible he picked his own name, or the Orphanage only had access to books about Greek mythology and modern philosophy. Nevertheless, he is the new protagonist and has his own share of conspiracies to investigate. In it, Apollo seeks to uncover the case that ruined Phoenix Wright, learn the identity of a panty stealing pervert, and go head to head with a German prosecutor that also happens to be a rockstar on the side.

Suffice to say, Ace Attorney has not forgotten its sense of humor.

The GamePlay

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For more details on the gameplay in the Ace Attorney series, check out this post.

As this is the first Ace Attorney title that was developed for the Nintendo DS, it makes sure to use all features of the device. The dual screens are clearly used to display different information, and both the touch screen and microphone are made part of the Investigation Phase in the game. Along with that, you too can shout “Objection!” and “Hold it!” into the microphone during the Court Phase to make Apollo shout those iconic phrases.

However, the main new feature in the title is in Perception. While we could easily tell in the early Ace Attorney titles when we had witnesses on the ropes, there was no way to actually call them on it. However, in Apollo Justice, you can do just that. Apollo is able to take note of nervous habits or tics that show if a witness is lying. While this is a very entertaining feature, its use is limited to only being in the Court Phase, when it could definitely be used during the Investigation Phase for interrogating others for information. Even then, there are a small number of situations where the nervous habit of the witness is so obscure, I  may never have made it through the sequence without looking up the answer.

Although, to be fair, this is a problem that has persisted throughout the series, and sometimes can be just as much the fault of the player as it is the developer.

Conclusion

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Apollo Justice brings several new concepts to the Ace Attorney table, which is sure to satisfy the fans. And, while I give it my personal recommendation, it lacks any groundbreaking features that would bring new players to the fold.

iGamer Reviews: Epoch

By Uppercut Games.

For iOS and Android OS.

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Epoch is the freshman title by the indie studio Uppercut Games. It markets itself as a “Combat Action Game for Mobile Devices”, which tells you as much about the game as being sold a car that, “Has four wheels and takes you places”.

The Story

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The story presented to us is rather vague, albeit intentionally so. It takes place at the end of a robot-apocalypse, where it seems most (if not all) of human life has been extinguished by their metallic creations.  As such, you play the game-titled robot, “Epoch” who has been reactivated for unclear reasons. His programming has him assigned to find and protect his target, “Princess Amelia”. As her determined location is on the other side of the city, Epoch must traverse through a war-torn city-scape, where the various machines appear to be waging war against themselves.

The GamePlay

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The graphics are above average, albeit not quite the same level as Infinity Blade or Blood Masque. However, it is worth noting that Epoch’s gameplay sets itself apart from the other series entirely, despite all of them being, “Combat Action games for mobile devices”.

Indeed, where the other two games are hack-and-slash fantasy games, Epoch is a sci-fi cover-based shooter. Each mission is a series of encounters. On the iPhone You move Epoch from cover to cover by swiping the touch screen. You tap the screen to break from cover and start firing, and tap the character you want to target, and Epoch will fire accordingly. It has many nice details to add to the layers of the gameplay, with weapons with different types of effects, such as lightning weapons that fire will hop from target to target, while grenade launchers will deal damage regardless of if the enemy is taking cover. Some of the effects can be muddled however; different weapon types also have associated “elements”, which different enemies are weak against. Don’t ask me how “armor piercing” or “explosion” can be elements, they just are. Either way, it makes for an entertaining game experience, and encourages you to alternate your equipment mission to mission.

The Catch

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Like I said previously, I’ve already made my complaints about there being micro-transactions along with the “entrance” fee, and this game is no exception. So, I’ll just say that the game is cheap compared to other big tittles, costing a mere three dollars, and has micro-transactions, but are not essential to actually finish the game.

Conclusion

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In the end, Epoch is a fun, cheap, action game for your iOS. While the game may not have as much replay value as it says it does, three dollars is a low entry fee, and micro-transactions are far from necessary parts of the gameplay.

That’s all for now,

Riknas, signing off!

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iGamer Reviews: Blood Masque

By Square Enix

For iOS

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Hey everyone, and welcome to another issue of iGamer, where Riknas reviews all the hottest (and other temperatures) mobile game titles. This week, we’ll be going over Square Enix’s Triple A title, Blood Masque, showing that the gaming industry is still a good five years behind the movie studios trying to cash in on the vampire craze everyone was talking about.

 

The Story

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The story of Bloodmasque is far from groundbreaking, however, it is just different enough to be interesting. The setting takes place in an alternate world where Vampires exist and nearly conquered the globe, and only recently are being overthrown by a new generation of half-vampires seeking to free themselves and the human race. The main story takes place in victorian-era France, where you play one of the many half vampire hunters; investigating rumors of a new Vampire leader that threatens to reverse all the progress the vampire hunters have made.

The Features

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Bloodmasque markets itself as a graphically intensive, cutting edge game with the unique feature to have your face placed onto your character.

One and a half out of three isn’t terrible, but not exactly jaw-dropping.

While the graphics are certainly high quality, the “Masque” feature is remarkably gimmicky, the game will access the camera on your phone and create an outline for you to line up your face with. That’s it. It just takes an actual picture of your face, and just plasters it over your character. I don’t even want to mention how important it is you also have your face fit into the outline perfectly, lest the game give you such ridiculous proportions that I don’t even want to show you what my pictures ended up looking like. Along with that, the game’s ability to show three separate expressions is also remarkably unimpressive, as it just asks you to take two more pictures beside the first one you picked. Really, you don’t even need to put up pictures of your face for that matter. At one point I decided just to take pictures of my rug, the tile floor, and my door knob. Boom, those are the images for my casual, excited, and angry expressions. While there is a certain novelty to it, you can easily go through the game without touching this feature at any point, and use their standard character creator.

With that said, in regards to how it plays…

The Game Play

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The gameplay in Bloodmasque is somewhat similar to the gameplay of Infinity Blade, in the sense that you use the touch screen to attack and dodge, which is sort of like saying a machine gun is like a flintlock pistol. Which, while technically true, doesn’t really say a whole lot.

The game mostly revolves around a series of encounters against various vampires, and sometimes their human minions. You tap the screen to attack your target, and swipe the screen to dodge. Unlike Infinity Blade, which direction you dodge in isn’t relevant so long as you time it properly. While it makes for rather simple gameplay, it’s fast paced and just challenging enough to keep it engaging. To add a little complexity, quick time events are added in to power up your special attacks, as well as provide bonus experience at the end of your encounters.

While each mission is simple, each of them is replayable, giving you opportunities to grind for experience, coins, and unique treasures in each mission. The item drop rates are fickle however, which can make the process tedious to people that aren’t enthralled with the gameplay.

This of course, brings us to…

The Catch

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Ah yes, this game does indeed have a catch. Along with a standard 7$ purchase price, the title has a pay-for currency to facilitate micro-transactions. The currency is “rubies” and can be used to progress through the game faster, or make it easier. This includes health boosts, time-extensions, upgrades, and even some exclusive items. 

For what it’s worth, there are other ways to get more rubies in the game, but they are both slow and inefficient, especially compared to pulling out your wallet.

Conclusion

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While I’m hardly a fan of micro-transactions being mixed in along with the actual “box” price, apparently everyone along with the industry has gone ahead and accepted it as standard affair. That said, the micro transactions aren’t as heavily encouraged as they are in other titles, and the price is relatively average as well. If you’re interested in some hack-and-slash vampire action and have some extra change you’re willing to spend, this might be the title for you.

iGamer Reviews: Infinity Blade

Developed by Chair Entertainment. Published by Epic Games.

For iOS.

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The Game 

Infinity Blade is easily one of the most iconic names associated with the iPhone iOS, and one of the most successful games Chair Entertainment has released yet… If you haven’t heard of this game, then you clearly haven’t experienced this side of mobile gaming.

The Story

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The story and setting of Infinity Blade is a strange hybrid of medieval high-fantasy mixed with sci-fi steampunk, playing an unnamed and masked adventurer, determined to avenge his father by storming the tower of the God King, wielder of the game’s namesake: the Infinity Blade. It is entirely expected that you will die in the process, bringing you to the beginning of the tower, now playing as the next male descendant of your previous character. Once again, you will take up arms against the God King…

The Gameplay

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Infinity Blade is most easily described as a dungeon-crawling fighting game, although I hardly find that does the game justice, as Infinity Blade expertly uses the iPhone touch screen to its fullest capacity. Your character’s progression through the God King’s tower is facilitated by a series of short cutscenes, initiated by clicking on the location that you wish to go to. This will allow you to interact with doors, treasure chests, and enter combat encounters, which brings me to the real meat of the game…

Progressing through the tower, you will encounter various enemies that will try to stop you from reaching the God King. By swiping across the touch screen, your character is able to swing his sword, dodge from left to right, and block with his shield. Along with using your weapon to attack, it can also be used to parry your enemy’s strikes. The game follows the saying, “Easy to learn, hard to master” perfectly. Although the controls are simple and intuitive, perfect timing for attacks and dodges requires the utmost amount of attention, along with a fair bit of practice. And whenever you think you have the game nailed down, it hits you with a curveball by letting you win…and making it harder for the next round.

Infinity Blade’s gameplay works with the storyline absolutely flawlessly. While there was a point where I came to think that the game was intended to actually follow an infinite loop (which technically,  is possible) I was shocked to find that the game does in fact, have a definitive ending, which almost entirely recontextualizes the game you thought you were just playing.  

The Conclusion

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This is one of the first Triple A titles released for the iOS, and I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in bringing a console-like gaming experience to their iPhone or iPad.

Riknas, signing off!

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iGamer Reviews: Ace Attorney (HD Trilogy)

By Capcom.

For iPhone and iPad. Individual titles (non-HD) available for Nintendo DS.

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This may actually be the most appropriate review to get started, considering the last post I made that wasn’t just composed of news and false-announcements. In a way, for this first post I will be reviewing both a mobile game title, but also providing a more in-depth look of the Visual Novel genre. That said, let’s get with the review.

What is it?

You might be wondering to yourself, “What could possibly be so interesting about something called, ‘Ace Attorney?’ How exciting can you make a game about lawyers?” These are fair questions. Actually, I even asked those same questions myself when I first heard of the series. Would it be fun to read over legal terms and papers? Could I extract some enjoyment from writing up a crookedly-designed contract with my client, so that after the trial is over, they will be permanently indebted to me so that every time they cry; I can bottle their tears so that I may drink them at my leisure? While the second example may create an amusing mental image of sorts, I believe that the correct answer for most of you is, “no”. Fortunately, neither of those examples reflect how the game actually plays.

Capcom seems to be acutely aware of the negative perception lawyers have in America, and goes well out of its way to make the job of “Defense Attorney” seem as glorious and heroic as possible. You see, to the people at Capcom, being a legal representative is just one part of the job as you also happen to be a private detective and forensic analyst. That’s not to say you actually play someone who is both a detective and forensics expert; instead, it is just entirely assumed that detective work and forensic analysis is part of what being a “lawyer” is, which is enough to make you wonder why all lawyers aren’t also police officers.

What’s the story?

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In the Ace Attorney trilogy, you play the novice defense lawyer, Phoenix Wright, on a personal mission to protect all those who have been falsely accused of wrongdoing. Over the course of three games, Phoenix Wright meets a variety of different characters, both friends and foes, visits various locations, and uncovers several conspiracies, each more elaborate than the last one.

Each game in the HD trilogy is composed of a series of case files that Phoenix Wright takes on, and although each of them have their own respective story, most of them tie into one larger narrative, while some cases tie into the sequel after it. The final result is an elaborate web of expertly crafted mystery stories that seamlessly lead you from one game to the next.

How do you play it?

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As I mentioned in a post, long, long ago, Ace Attorney plays very similarly to a Visual Novel. That is to say, while the narrative mostly takes place from the perspective of Phoenix Wright, you do not physically control him or move him around like a traditional video game. Rather, each case file has two different styles of gameplay: Investigations, and Trials.

Investigations are very reminiscent of a point-and-click adventure games, albeit with some more complexities. In each Investigation, Phoenix Wright must interrogate witnesses, search the crime scene, and collect evidence to help prove his client innocent, all the while determining the true perpetrator of the crime. However, the Trials are an almost entirely different beast.

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After you have collected all the evidence you need, you will ultimately find yourself at the courtroom. From there, your reading skills and memory will be tested instead of your observational skills, as you are forced to go head to head with the prosecution and cross-examine the witnesses. It is through the testimony of the witnesses and claims of the prosecution that you must find the lies or contradictions made, and point them out with the evidence you gathered from the scene of the crime. These sequences  can be brutal if you can’t remember everything that happened, and the courtroom judge will penalize you for presenting the wrong evidence at the wrong time. With too many penalties accumulated, your defense will be overturned, and your client will be found guilty. While this can make picking the correct evidence all the more satisfying, sometimes the correct lines and pieces of evidence are so unintuitive the only logical way to handle the situation is to save your game, and guess wildly until you found the right piece of evidence (or just look up the correct answer online). That said, the logic-defying choices are most common in the first game, and are less common in the other two games.

What’s the final word?

Overall, I had a fantastic time playing through that game, and I’m willing to bet that anyone who is a fan of legal dramas and mystery stories is bound to enjoy it as well. Along with that, at only seventeen dollars for three games (although you can buy each title individually for roughly six dollars through in-app purchases) you will definitely get your money’s worth. And although there may be some frustrations along the way, the experience only gets better with each game you play.

That’s all for now,

Riknas, signing off!

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