[Review] Gyakuten Kenji 2 (Ace Attorney Investigations 2)

kenji2-title

JP title: 逆転検事2
http://vndb.org/v6639

Also known as Ace Attorney Investigations: Prosecutor’s Path, in case you’ve been following the fan translation.

Edgeworth is love, Edgeworth is life — and here we are, another game in one of my favorite series, starring my favorite character from said series. So as you can imagine, when I first heard that a spinoff title with him as the main lead was announced, I was ecstatic; and although AAI was overall a weaker entry that, in the end, didn’t quite compare to the sheer excellence of the original Phoenix Wright trilogy, I still more or less enjoyed it for what it was. And now we’re here to discuss the sequel, bringing pretty much more of the same, with a host of new and old characters thrown into the mix.

First things first. I won’t include any spoilers about GK2, naturally. However, I might reference previous titles in the main series. I mean, if you’re playing GK2, the… what, 6th? game in the franchise (and a sequel, too!), I think it’s only fair to expect some level of familiarity. In case you haven’t played the original trilogy (that is, Ace Attorney, Justice for All and Trials & Tribulations)… go play them now. Both GK2 and this review can wait until after you’ve finished those. Thank me later. I love you too. Kisses.

kenji1-

So, with a review like this, about a game in such a long-running series, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to present my “credentials” first, so to speak. As in, which AA games I’ve played so far and what I thought of them — I suppose this might help you decide whether or not your opinion might be similar to mine when it comes to GK2. Anyway, in order not to waste your time too much, the short answer is that I played basically all of them except for Dual Destinies (just haven’t gotten around to it yet… I’m the worst fan ever) and Layton vs Ace Attorney, if we even count that as an AA game. I more or less enjoyed every game in the main series, but my favorite has to be Trials and Tribulations by far, followed by the very first game. My least favorite entries are Justice for All (except for its fantastic final case) and the first Ace Attorney Investigations.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s actually talk about GK2 now. It starts shortly after the end of AAI and once again stars Miles Edgeworth and his assistant/thief/totally-imouto-character Kay Faraday, with some old faces and new opposition. So, uh, I guess I’ll start with some of the new characters. (since, I assume, most people played the fan translation, I’ll be using the English names for characters.)

I was not sure how to feel about the introduction of a new prosecutor called Sebastian Debeste at first, since during most of the cases, instead of filling the role of an intimidating and tremendously memorable rival figure like, say, Edgeworth (against Phoenix), Manfred von Karma or Godot, he’s basically the resident comic relief guy. He’s not a bad character, I found his sheer naivete kinda cute in a way, but still. It’s not until the final case (and the end of Case 4) that Sebastian finally gets some much needed character development, after which he becomes a more respectable character.

justine 02132433088_full

Your primary opposition, strangely enough, will be a female judge going by the name of Justine Courtney, who manages to really piss in your milk on several occasions, to the point where I asked myself “for the love of God does she *want* the real culprit to escape?”, but I guess that’s her job as a judge, to be impartial and consider all possibilities until the very end. That actually plays into her character development, basically being impartial vs listening to your heart. She went from being someone I didn’t really care too much about to a fairly interesting character in the final case after certain things are revealed about her. You do kinda get to see her in a different light, much like with Sebastian, which I enjoyed. Neither her, nor Sebastian are as memorable as characters in previous games, but the game was trying, at least. They’re still far better characters than the wolf dude from AAI1, who, I must add, also makes an appearance here as well but similarly, I did not care for him too much, as you can tell by the fact that I do not even remember his name.

My favorite of the newcomers definitely has to be your defense attorney buddy for most of the game, Ray Shields. He’s a guy I’d totally hang out with, y’know, that guy who’s like 20 years older than you but you can still treat him as your bro. He pretty much has a comedic side to him but knows when to act like a man when the situation calls for it. I enjoyed that duality about him, especially since he says one of the cooler lines in the game, like a “defense attorney never gives up” or a “defense attorney always keeps his cool and smiles even in the toughest of situations”, or something along those lines. Corny as it may be, it just kinda works in an AA game.

Sadly, with one exception, none of the villains really felt memorable to me. In fact, two out of the five cases I didn’t really enjoy that much. Hm, you know, maybe even three out of five, because not even Case 4 was as good as I hoped. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So: Case 2 bored me to tears, simple as that. And even though Case 3 was a flashback starring Gregory Edgeworth himself, going up against the one and only Manfred von Karma, the murder mystery itself wasn’t that interesting and I just couldn’t get immersed. I mean for God’s sake it’s a dessert contest. I know AA games get wacky but all that talk about sherbet and chocolate and whatnot really made me unable to feel any real tension or suspense during the chapter. The setting basically killed it for me (like the circus case in JFA), even if I really did enjoy playing as Gregory and seeing his interactions with young Ray.

shields

Case 4 thankfully gets a bit more interesting with an initial twist I won’t reveal, and it shakes things up quite a bit by getting more personal and showing a somewhat more emotional side of Miles. Plus you see a certain someone in a wildly different light (I *loved* that, it was super adorable). But even then, the actual murder itself is sorta meh, and you can see the villain coming a mile away, he practically has “I’m the bad guy” painted on his forehead. At the very least this case leads into Case 5, which I more or less enjoyed — it brought the parent-child theme into the forefront once again, which I found especially heartwarming. And, most important of all, the true mastermind’s identity completely caught me off guard, it’s easily the best twist in the entire game.

With that said though, my biggest problem with this game is that it’s sort of… dull, more often than not. The situations, some of the characters, the murders. It does have its moments here and there, it does still have Edgeworth who’s just as badass as ever (I was almost expecting Commissioner Gordon to pop up and deliver his Dark Knight ending monologue at one point), but many of the cases just lacked that certain hook… they basically failed to really grab my attention. I also somehow felt there was a distinct lack of the quirky humor and charm of the original trilogy, and I wasn’t enthralled by many of the new side characters, either. The humor is not completely absent, mind you, but much of the game and its characters felt somewhat… dry, for lack of a better word. Not to mention that this installment also marked the return of my absolute least favorite character in the entire franchise: Lotta Hart. On the bright side, the lovely Ema Skye (best girl) also has a *very* brief cameo, but ultimately has far less screen time than Lotta, who plays a semi-prominent supporting role in not one, but two cases. Priorities, eh? Oh, wait, actually, I loved that new nurse character, Karin was her English name I believe. She was cute as hell! And Gumshoe is great in this game. That’s all I’m saying.

nurse-

Now let’s talk a bit about gameplay. Logic Chess is the new thing in GK2, which I have mixed feelings about. You basically interrogate people and from time to time, you can choose to press them further or keep your trap shut and let them go on with hopes that they carelessly spill some vital info. The trick is to wait for the right signals from the witness so that you know when you should press and when you should keep quiet. From a gameplay standpoint, this is kinda easy and straightforward, you basically just click on every dialogue option and the solution sort of makes itself obvious over time, the “press now!” signals given off by the witnesses are fairly easy to pick up on. Now, that’s it for gameplay — from a story/character standpoint, the Logic Chess was a nice distraction. It has awesome music playing in the background, and it’s really enjoyable seeing good old Edgeworth doing his magic and showing all these secretive people who’s the pimpest of all the pimp prosecutors. Oh and when I say the music is cool, I mean it — GK2 happens to feature one of my favorite Objection themes in the series. It’s cool, it’s classy, it’s Edgeworth. Listen until the 1 minute mark, you won’t regret it. I deliberately read certain scenes at a slower pace just so the music would play longer, it’s that good. It’s the one song that seriously makes you feel like you *are* Edgeworth.

Story-wise, GK2 is okay. Not my favorite, though, despite the great mastermind reveal near the end. Although the mastermind is a tragic character as well, and definitely quite an interesting villain, the overall game is not as memorable as I wanted it to be. While GK2 does have its moments and I absolutely love the way Edgeworth has come to care about Kay almost as his own little sister (Case 4 is the best part in this regard), I felt stronger about the twists and turns and the overall emotional rollercoaster of the previous games. I mean, remember when Maya was on trial? When Edgeworth himself was on trial! Or Godot and the entirety of his character and how it tied into Mia’s backstory. I felt so much stronger about those characters than Sebastian, Justine, and so on. Still, like I said, GK2 is far from being bad, and there was a bit of magic in the scene when Gumshoe declares that he, Kay and Edgeworth make an unbeatable trio of comrades in arms. Awwws were had. I also enjoyed the whole “path of the prosecutor vs. path of the defense attorney” theme the game introduced, as well as Miles’s constant inner struggles with his own profession and how he should interpret his father’s defense attorney career, and basically, the biggest question: what does it mean to be a prosecutor? There were some really touching moments here and there, especially the ending, and GK2 managed to hit all the right notes in that regard, I felt.

MilesGregoryGK2

So anyway, do I dislike GK2? Hell no. If you’ve read all of the above you can tell I had positive things to say about it as well. It is most definitely a better installment than AAI1 was, and leagues above wannabe games like Sigma Harmonics. (ugh. let’s not even talk about that game anymore) But still, I cannot help but feel like it’s not exactly the most brilliant entry in the franchise, either, to say the least. I can still recommend you play it if you like the series, since overall it’s a solid Ace Attorney title, but y’know… as much as I love Miles, this particular ace prosecutor could have had a couple more aces up his sleeve.

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “[Review] Gyakuten Kenji 2 (Ace Attorney Investigations 2)

  1. Funny how you say many times how you are a bit disapointed with this game but, by reading your positive points about it, it feels like this is many levels better than any VN I have been playing recently! Now I am interested in playing one of the titles from this series!

    • Well the thing about Ace Attorney is that even the weaker entries (like GK2) still end up being decent. It’s just that when the series gets good, it gets *really* fucking good. See Trials and Tribulations. I don’t outright hate any of the installments, but they do vary in quality.

      Honestly the best way to start is with the first three games, like I suggested in the review. Then if you like those, move on to Apollo Justice (Dual Destinies is on the 3DS, though). Then if you *still* crave more, you can consider the Investigations/Gyakuten Kenji spinoff series. Optimally you’ll want to play the franchise in the proper order to get all the references and later cameos and whatnot.

  2. You are completely right about how good the objection theme is in AAI2/GK2. I would say this is a rare game in the Ace Attorney series were the objection theme is better than the pursuit theme. In most of the other games it is usually the other way around.

  3. It’s translated? I was feeling so skeptical of it’s completion to the point that I completely ignored it, lol. Though it’s saddening to see that it isn’t quite as good. I also don’t feel strongly about GK1 though, despite that it has some refreshing changes in it’s gameplay structure. Also, am I the only one who doesn’t quite hate (I would even go as far as to say I like :p) Justice for All? I mean, the last case is just golden!

    Also, judging by the naming scheme of the AAI series (Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Miles Edgeworth). Will we see an Apollo Justice version? :p

    Speaking of which, I never seen you mentioning AA4 at all. What do you think of it? :p

    • Yeah the last case of Justice for All had that twist, which was really cool. As for Apollo Justice / AA4, my memories of it are vague at best. I thought it was okay… I think.

  4. This is truly one of the best games in the series. For lack of Japanese knowledge, I played through the fan translation patch which, I have to say, was excellently done and its quality’d be on par with any official release from Capcom!

    The game has its pros and cons, but unlike the article’s author, I enjoyed the whole thing. Still, I have to admit, the villains are a bit weak. So to me, Gant and Dahlia reamain the best antagonists yet.

    It’s a pity I’d already watched Dual Destiny playthrough on youtube (feels almost like the real thing on mobile :D) which took place after this game, so it kinda spoiled the plot a bit for me, as Edgeworth was already Chief Prosecutor in DD.

  5. I thought this was hands down the best AA game of the entire series. The character development (Naruhodo has barely any development), the lack of gimmicks from the original trilogy. Everything about it was better than all the other AA games and this is one of my favorite games of all time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s