Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Review

The Ace Attorney series by Capcom has managed to gather quite a respectable fanbase, and the newest one – counting at number five – “Miles Edgeworth” – has so far lived up to the success of its predecessors. It doesn’t directly follow the story from where the previous game left off as you might expect though – actually, it reveals what happened between the third game, “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations” and the fourth, “Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney”.

Gameplay

The player controls the character of Miles Edgeworth, and the game is played similarly to the others in the series – it’s a rather simplistic adventure with a point-and-click interface, where you have to go around the various scenes, collect items, and figure out how to use them in combination with other items. When investigating crimes, you have to figure out the three basic aspects between them – suspect, method of execution and the motive behind it. The dialog is very well-written and varies depending on your choices – and the characters are developed quite well, too.

The cross-examination from the previous games is gone – there are now “rebuttal” phases, which will be combined with the regular investigation phases for every crime you’re solving, forcing you to think differently in both situations. Don’t worry though, rebuttals aren’t that different from how cross-examinations worked, and in them you’ll simply have to talk to various characters in a direct manner, presenting them with the results of your work on the investigation so far. If you’re good enough and have collected sufficient evidence for the crime, you may be able to get out a confession early on – though it takes some practice and experience to get that right.

Graphics and System Requirements

For an adventure, AAI:ME’s graphics are more or less fine – they’re nothing outstanding, but fans of Japanese art will surely enjoy the various scenes, especially some of the dialog parts. In some cases, to give an extra dramatic edge to a scene, the game may use still images instead of the standard animation, and we’d say it works out quite nicely to set the overall atmosphere for those special scenes.

For an NDS game, it pulls off great framerates, and despite the relatively small screens, you should be able to see plenty of detail in all of the scenes you’ll be exploring.

Other

The game suffers from some control difficulties, and you may have to get used to the odd control scheme if you’re a newcomer to the series. Using the touchscreen to move the character around is definitely an art of its own, but once you’ve gotten used to it, you shouldn’t feel so negative about the choice of controls.

Conclusion

The new installment in the Ace Attorney series is an absolute gem in every aspect – a varied game with enough dialog to keep you thinking, and a learning curve that gradually rises, enough to let you learn smoothly.

Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines Review

Assassin’s Creed was received very positively when it came out, mainly due to its original premise. The game follows a modern-day experiment on the mind of a person alleged to be the ancestor of a famous historic assassin, in an attempt by scientists to recover the assassin’s memories and find out how certain events happened in humanity’s timeline.

In a gameplay somewhat similar to the infamous Hitman series, only set in a medieval setting, Assassin’s Creed was universally loved by gamers. Bloodlines brings the game to the PSP, and continues its story shortly after the events of the first game left off.

Gameplay

The player once again follows the exploits of Altair, tasked with eliminating various figures in his time. Those of you who’ve played the original Assassin’s Creed will probably be familiar with the premise of the gameplay. You’ll have to first identify your target (often by seeking them out in a busy crowd), then stealthily make your way to them, execute them and get out without getting caught. Of course, it’s never as easy as it sounds, as the game does its best to stop you from completing your goals, by throwing devious AI mercenaries in your way.

The gameplay mechanics have been changed from the last installment in the series, “Altair’s Chronicles”, and are much more similar to how the first game was played. You’re no longer restricted to a linear gameplay, instead given the freedom to explore the game’s world as you see fit, and approach your targets from original directions. You can once again take cover in various everyday objects, such as diving in a stack of hay to avoid getting detected by a passing group of soldiers.

Graphics and System Requirements

Bloodlines improves Altair’s looks somewhat, at least to the extent that a portable console allows the developers to – the character has received a new dose of details, mainly on the clothing, and his animations now look more fluid (which is an achievement in itself, considering the original AC was praised specifically for the thousands of different animations the character used). The world is as large as ever, and the game draws it very far away – the engine isn’t limited to a short rendering distance as most PSP games are.

The smaller screen may give you a few problems when you’re trying to identify your target in a crowded area, but the “aura” skill makes it a lot easier – you’ll just have to find out where the glow is coming from. All of the important objects have been detailed extensively and stand out from the rest of the environment at one glance.

Other

If you own a PS3, make sure you connect your PSP to it at some point. This will give you access to several new unlockable weapons, which can only be found in this manner.

Conclusion

A decent continuation to a great game, Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines could only use some improvement in its plot and short gameplay time, and it would be a perfect game.

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

Games based on the Batman series have been hit-and-miss, as is the case with most movie/comic book-based video games. The newest one, Arkham Asylum though, immediately made an impression even before it was released – the amount of polish that was thrown in the game’s pre-release media made it obvious that this one has been designed a bit more carefully and sensibly. Batman fans and video game fans alike were, naturally, very excited about the upcoming release of the title.

Gameplay

Batman: Arkham Asylum puts the player in the feet of our favorite comic book character, who’s on the trail of his arch nemesis the Joker yet again. The game is played from a third person perspective, and is a combination of action and stealth – there are scenes where you’ll be mopping the floor with your enemies, reliving your favorite scene from a Batman movie in your head, but at some other points of the game, you’ll be forced to lay low and sneak behind your enemies’ backs if you are to survive.

It wouldn’t have a true Batman feeling if it wasn’t packed full of gadgets though – Batman: Arkham Asylum gives you access to a small arsenal of unique high-tech toys made by Batman himself, including the all-famous Batarang. The Riddler makes a cameo in several places as well, leaving the player clues to guide them through the levels. You’ll have to solve some puzzles from time to time, though nothing too challenging – and the main focus is on the action and stealth elements. Also, you have access to a “Detective Mode”, which is sometimes required in order to progress through a specific area.

Graphics and System Requirements

The developers have utilized the latest Unreal Engine 3.5, spicing it up with some PhysX support (those of you who’ve got a PhysX component in their computer should enjoy a lot more eye candy and better framerates). The game looks terrific, mimicking the noir feeling of the movies and comic books almost perfectly. The asylum has been designed with lots of imagination – even though it’s a cliched, beaten-to-death setting for creepy games, it still feels fresh in this one.

Arm yourself with at least a 2.8 GHZ dual core processor and 3 GB of RAM, plus an ATi HD 4770 or better if you want to fully enjoy this game though – it is quite heavy on the computer and will make it cringe in the heavier scenes if you’re not prepared accordingly.

Other

If you’re playing on a console and not on the PC, you sadly won’t get to enjoy the PhysX effects, as they’re PC-exclusive. You won’t be missing out on that much though, mostly small details like leaves floating around, pieces of clothing getting torn apart realistically, etc – certainly nothing that’s absolutely necessary to experience the game in its fullest.

Conclusion

Batman fans who haven’t played this yet better take a few days off and hit the couch with the joystick – because once you’ve started up Batman: Arkham Asylum for the first time, it can be pretty damn hard to let go.

Return to Mysterious Island 2 Review

Who said the adventure genre was dead? The PC industry is certainly enjoying a great influx of titles in that department, one of the latest ones being Return to Mysterious Island 2. The game leaves off where the previous left, adding some twists to the story, and presents the player with some even more challenging and deep puzzles to go through, while at the same time unveiling an intriguing story moving the whole plot.

Gameplay

RTMI 2 doesn’t play much differently from other adventure games – its mechanics revolve mostly around a point and click system, where you have to explore various parts of the levels, find items, and figure out where those items go and which ones can be combined, etc.

At the beginning of the game, you’re presented with a short cutscene which explains what happened after the first one finished – those of you who’ve played the original Return to Mysterious Island probably remember that in the end, the main protagonist left off in a helicopter.

Well, it turns out that the helicopter was shot down shortly after, and not by any actual enemies but rather by the island’s volcano – so you inadvertently find yourself at the same place, trying to escape from it yet again. Another twist to the story is related to the volcano’s eruption – you’ll now be tasked with trying to save the island’s residents as well as freeing yourself from it.

Graphics and System Requirements

The graphics are executed well, though in some places you may spot a noticeable lack of detail, be it in a lower-resolution texture or poorly-detailed model. The main characters are modeled nicely on the other hand, each having its own unique charm and looks, and the monkey may look especially attractive to the younger players of the game. The island is designed very meticulously, with small pieces of details revealing the odd bit of information about it little by little.

It’s an adventure game, so you shouldn’t expect any slowdowns or framerate-related problems – quite the contrary, it handles its graphics nicely, from rendering the more massive scenes in the outside areas of the island, to drawing the indoor areas with great realism. It doesn’t require a modern-day computer to handle it well – you should actually be able to run it on a medium-class notebook and still get satisfying results.

Other

Some of the puzzles may come off as a bit hard, and you won’t be alone in that impression – many players have shared frustration over how difficult it is to get past certain areas, and you’ll probably be forced to resort to a walkthrough every now and then, especially if you’re not familiar with the adventure genre in general. We didn’t have problems finishing the game to the end though, so rest assured that it’s not impossible.

Conclusion

The good old days of pixelated 2D adventure games are over for sure – so we should enjoy what we have left. And Return to Mysterious Island 2 is a decent continuation of the adventure genre, despite its slight bugs and flaws.