Monday, May 12, 2008

Apollo Justice: Movies as Evidence

I recently completed the third case in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. While my brother apparently has some issues with it, and it was a little weak in some areas, I generally liked it. However, there is one part of the case where the game designers did not use the game system to its full potential: the video tape. A major piece of evidence in the third case is a video recording of a concert performance. This video tape is used by both sides to make arguments throughout the trial, particularly in the second half of the case. However, the the use of video evidence in this case of Apollo Justice just doesn't compare to how it was used in the final case of the DS remake of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

In that final case, a video recording of a crime is also a key piece of evidence. At numerous points in the trial, it is necessary to point out specific things in the video. This was done by playing, fast-forwarding, rewinding, and pausing the video as necessary, then manually pointing out a specific part of the picture that has the required clue. I thought it was a lot of fun, and made it very easy to use the video as evidence. I still think it is the best part of that case.

Unfortunately, the use of the video tape in the third case of Apollo Justice isn't nearly as interactive. The player can't pause, fast-forward, or rewind the video at all, only skip between sub-sections. Even worse, the player can't point to a specific part of the video as evidence directly. There are a lot of clues in the video, but the player is restricted to pointing out those clues by presenting other related evidence, rather than pointing them out on the video itself. Being able to point out specific details on the movie itself would have reduced the amount of frustration involved in guessing at what piece of evidence to use to point out the part of the movie I wanted to talk about.

Another problem comes from the sound mixer that was also used as evidence in the third case. In the sound mixer, the player could listen to a song and point out parts of the some as a piece of evidence. Yet, I found the sound mixer to be very annoying to use. Unfortunately, the player couldn't compare the sound mixer to either the video of the song being performed or to the lyrics of the song (since the game used music to represent lyrics in the actual audio). Therefore, it was impossible get a sense of what part of the song in the sound-file matched up with other events going on during the scene in question.

The gameplay mechanics involved in both of these key pieces of evidence could certainly have been improved. The problems with the video tape in particular are jarring because of how well the exact same thing was implemented in a previous game. I hope these problems are fixed in the next Apollo Justice game.

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