By Tyler Lubben / November 7th, 2013
Of course, the vehicles that carry the story are the characters, so, how well does the cast perform? In this case, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Our new leading lady, Athena, is a great addition to the cast. She’s cocky and excitable, having only recently become an attorney. Being new to the law game (in every sense), she’s also the character through whom players new to the franchise will learn the game’s basic mechanics as the more experienced lawyers explain how things work. Phoenix has gone through something of a rebirth (HAHAHA!) himself. After spending his first three games as the bumbling new guy, he’s settling in well playing mentor to Apollo and Athena. Additionally, we’ve known for months that Apollo would go through some changes after seeing the new images of him. There’s a good reason for this change, and seeing how and why Apollo follows his own path in Dual Destinies is one of the more interesting developments in the story. Probably one of the biggest disappointments in regards to Apollo is that fans who may have been looking for some closure on revelations revealed in Apollo Justice will have to hope for another game, because they aren’t discussed at all here. While I do feel that new players owe it to themselves to play through the previous games, Dual Destinies does a fair job of summarizing returning characters so they aren’t completely lost when someone shows up.
On the other side of the courtroom, we have one Simon Blackquill occupying the prosecutor’s bench. I found this guy… tiresome. It’s pretty clear early on that this guy’s gimmick is swords and samurai culture. It didn’t take long before I was saying “Yeah, I get it, you’re a badass samurai, you can stop now.” Rather than evolving into a deeper character like prosecutors Edgeworth and Gavin of games past, Blackquill sits in my mind as a one-trick pony that I could take or leave, along the lines of Franziska Von Karma and Godot from the earlier Ace Attorney titles. Fortunately, acting as backup to Blackquill, we have the new detective, Bobby Fulbright. Proven to be a quite capable law enforcement officer, Fulbright may lack the lovable buffoonery of good ol’ Detective Gumshoe, but he’s still almost instantly endearing due to his over-inflated sense of justice. Plus, his theme is probably the catchiest in the game:
Speaking of music, I was a little disappointed to see just how much of the music was recycled from previous games. Aside from each character’s theme song usually playing when they show up in a scene, the “Cornered” themes used for Phoenix and Apollo are the same ones from Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice, respectively. Having said that, however, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Ace Attorney games have some pretty memorable tracks, and do a great job of setting the mood in their music. I just wish I could think of more memorable original tracks outside the one I showcased above.
Dual Destinies has done a few things to streamline the experience, and fix a few of the franchise’s shortfalls in the past. First of all, the investigation portions of the game have become far less tedious than they used to be. For one, players can now travel to any given location, no matter where they are. No more traveling from point A to point B to point C to point D only to realize that you forgot something back at point A. Also, when examining crime scenes, the cursor is now marked with a circle or a check mark to help players keep track of items that have been, and still need to be, checked. Finally, the game now features a Notebook tab, which is extremely helpful in keeping players on task, and reminding them of what needs to be done next to advance the story.
Does this make the game too easy? Maybe, but I’ve always loathed the investigation sections, and finally having a way to move them along as quickly as possible to reach the vastly more entertaining court portions is a boon in my eyes. Possibly the biggest improvement, however, is the saving feature. When saving the game, players are no longer forced to return to the title screen as they were in every game since the original Ace Attorney. This may not seem like a big deal to those unfamiliar with the series, but it’s such a huge deal to returning players who have wanted to save before presenting an unsure piece of evidence. Dual Destinies is also the first game in the franchise to receive an M rating from ESRB. I was skeptical at first, but I can now say that the rating certainly was warranted. There is a fair amount of blood– more than has been shown in previous games– and, without giving too much away, there is a particular scene in the game’s final case that, while not explicitly showing anything, creates a mental image of what would certainly be one of the goriest moments in the franchise’s history.
While it’s a highly entertaining experience for the 25 or so hours it takes to complete, one of Dual Destinies’ biggest weaknesses, and one that I still don’t know how they can really address, is the nearly non-existent replay value. The Ace Attorney games have always been extremely story-driven, dialogue-heavy and linear to a fault. While most of the games’ cases are unforgettable the first time you play them, it’s almost impossible to recapture that same excitement after you know who the true culprit of each case is. We already know of one downloadable case that was released for the game, and, hopefully, it’ll make it’s way to English versions, as well. Even so, this will likely only add a few more hours to the game before falling into the same category as all the cases before it. The best you can do is come back a year or two later, and hope that you’ve forgotten enough of the details to squeeze at least a little of the same enjoyment you had the first time around. I guess the same could be said about any great story, though. You’ll never be able to capture the same excitement and emotion that you experienced the first time, but you’ll always look back on it fondly, and appreciate it for the classic that it is.
Game purchased by the reviewer
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