This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Ace Attorney series and what better way to celebrate than to bring two of the most recent games to modern day consoles in one package. While in Japan the combination of The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve is a nice little improvement, for those of us in the West, this is a brand new package loaded with content. Despite being released in 2015 and 2017 respectively, neither of these titles saw any chance of a Western release for an unknown number of reasons but now these two long hoped for games are debuting in the West together. Featuring a brand new cast set in an all new era, is The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles worth your time?
It is the turn of the 19th century and Japan has just begun opening itself up to the rest of the world, beginning with diplomatic relations between the country and Great Britain. This has led to a cultural boom in Japan that has even reached the justice system, allowing a number of fresh new ideas into the courtroom. Here players find Ryunosuke Naruhodo, his best friend and freshly trained lawyer Kazuma Asoki, and his judicial assistant Susato Mikitoba tackling their first murder case in what ends up being something of a first experience for many involved. Following this case the group leaves for Great Britain, setting sail to the country in an effort to study law on a global scale and seeing the true power of the British legal system.
Shortly the group finds themselves meeting a famous eccentric face in the form of the great detective, Herlock Sholmes and eventually his young partner, inventor and writer Iris Wilson. The pair quickly find themselves integrated as one of the most endearing and frequent members of the eccentric cast of characters that Naruhodo meets on his journey through the London courts, with Herlock’s antics being one of the best inclusions to the game both storywise and mechanically. As is true with any Ace Attorney game, these strange characters are a tried and true signature for the series and thanks to the way the story is actually written here, players will be spending quite a bit of time with many returning faces across different events.
While this collection not only serves as a way to bring these two games over in one package, it also serves to bring them together as one. Unlike other entries in the Ace Attorney series that wrap up their individual stories at the end, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles tells a consistent story throughout both games with the second entry picking up shortly after the events of the first. This not only gives the writers more chances to flesh out the storyline by building it up over the course of two games and multiple cases but gives the eccentric cast a chance to not only grow on the player but really shine as a result.
That isn’t to say that each case on its own isn’t strong enough to hold up on its own. Throughout the game cases constantly felt like they were throwing new twists and mysteries that Naruhodo needs to solve to secure a Not Guilty verdict, It is still certainly possible to find yourself ahead of the game in a handful of cases, waiting for the characters to catch up to what the player has already figured out, but thanks to the writing and limitations of the era often at play in the courtroom, the mysteries that players need to solve end up being far more complicated at times than they seem to be, a few already standing out as being some of the best in the entire series as a result.
For the most part, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles plays similar to other entries in the series as players will once again find themselves tasked with defending their client from a crime they didn’t commit using evidence gathered both inside and outside the courtroom, cross-examining witnesses by pressing their statements and presenting evidence when they are caught in a lie, and uncovering the truth behind what really happened. This is done through two distinctly separate areas; the courtroom and exploration where players move to different locations, talking to relevant witnesses and detectives, and gathering evidence that may help their case.
The biggest changes come from the fact that players are now dealing with Great Britain’s legal system as well as a certain great detective whose deductions are not only elaborate and flashy, but also a bit off the mark as well. Often players will be tasked with examining a location or talking with someone and Herlock Sholmes will join them, coming up with a deduction as to what he thinks may have happened and players will need to correct him in the “Dance of Deduction” to point him in the right direction. These moments often give players the most freedom to examine a scene and, while not overly difficult, have some fun moments of trying to solve what a witness might actually be trying to hide by their actions.
The other and most notable differences appear in the courtroom. Whereas players used to only have to deal with one witness at a time, now multiple witnesses can take the stand at the same time, spreading a witness statement across multiple people. These not only allow the story to move at a more fluid pace but also allow for a slightly more intricate level of cross-examination as well. Occasionally when one witness is pressed about their statement, another one will begin reacting to what they are hearing, allowing the focus to be shifted towards that witness and reveal something new and turn the tides on the potential liar.
Another new element that is only featured in the British courts is the fact that there is actually a jury now and not just the judge passing a verdict. Every case will feature six jurors, who are also incredibly eccentric, that sit in on the trial and have their own reactions and statements made regarding the events unfolding in front of them as Naruhodo and the prosecutor butt heads in the courtroom. At any point in the trial the jurors can interrupt proceedings and cast their vote as to either Not Guilty or Guilty and, should all six vote Guilty, players will be given one final chance to change their minds. “Summation Examination” as it is called allows the player to directly question the jury about their choice and try to pit them either against one another or show evidence against their claims and if four manage to shift their votes to Not Guilty, the trial will resume. This level of detail when it comes to court cases and interactions with not only the setting itself but the people helps make these cases really stand out as being exceptional.
Visuals & Audio
Considering both games included in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles originally released on the Nintendo 3DS they have seen some solid improvements now on the PlayStation 4. Character models are fantastic looking and feature a wide array of emotions ranging from confident to completely losing their minds all set to gorgeous looking backgrounds. There are even some animated cutscenes mixed into the first game as well as a number of in-engine scenes used throughout the second title as well that look great, though it would have been nice if the style remained consistent.
It is worth noting that there is a bit of voiced dialogue in the games but it is kept to a bare minimum though it is handled quite well with both English and Japanese available. The soundtrack features some great background tracks that stand out as some of the best that the series has had to offer.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles brings together two great games that tell a continuous story filled with a great cast of characters, witty writing, and solid puzzles that can keep players on their feet through most cases though the problem of getting ahead of the game still remains an issue at times. To make things even better, considering both the setting and characters are brand new to the series, newcomers and long-time fans can both get the same level of enjoyment here in what is a great pair of games that can finally be appreciated at their best.
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