Although four installments long already, the Ace Attorney series has never really changed much in terms of gameplay. Every previous game consisted merely of showing the right evidence to the right people, or at the right time, with only very minor additions or alterations between each title, like the Psycho Locks in the second and third games, and the incredibly under-used "perceive system" in Apollo Justice.
For the fifth game, Capcom has decided to return to the main cast of the first three games. Minus the protagonists, that is; this time you play as Phoenix's well-meaning rival, Miles Edgeworth. You'll also get plenty of help from other characters you've seen before, with most of it coming from detective Dick Gumshoe and prosecutor Franziska von Karma, who any fan should be familiar with by now.
The courtroom is completely absent in all but one case (and even then it's not for an actual courtroom battle), because, as the game's title implies, it's all about "investigations." Although information from witnesses, suspects and others is still important, Edgeworth and his partner(s) must also do some heavy investigating of their own, searching every object around to discover clues.
This means that, for the first time in the series, you actually get to move a character around; you've got full control of Edgeworth as he runs around the crime scene looking for clues. Just like Phoenix and Apollo, Edgeworth will take or keep note of any interesting objects he comes across, allowing you to present them to people for potential information or simply take another look over the information you have on everything.
If something about the area seems particularly off, Edgeworth will mark it down as "logic," a new element in this game. It's quite simple, really: once you've discovered two or more bits of logic, you can try to connect the dots, linking the two together to form a logical conclusion and furthering the investigation. But look over the logic you've gathered carefully first, because connecting the wrong information will cause you to lose a bit of your life bar (or, as Edgeworth puts it, it will "take you further from the truth"). If the bar is emptied completely, it's an instant game over, so if your life is getting low, it might be wise to save often. After each investigation phase, you'll recover half the bar, though, so things aren't really that bad.
Although there's no courtroom battles, the intense cross-examinations that make the series so well-known are still here. But since you're not in a trial, they're not called that – witnesses will still give testimonies, while suspects give "arguments." Edgeworth has to counter them with a "rebuttal," which basically comes down to exactly the same thing as always. Each person will explain their alibi or what they've seen with a few lines, after which you must look through your items for something contradicting one of their statements, using it on the correct line. Present the wrong item or present something to the wrong line, and you'll lose some life.
It is also still possible to "press" each statement, allowing you to request the person talking for some more specific information. It's here where the game shows a pretty big flaw. Although it only rarely occurred in the previous four games, here, pressing will very frequently result in an interesting new statement, which Edgeworth will then request the person speaking to add to their testimony or argument.
You can guess what that means – that almost certainly has to be the statement you have to present a contradiction to. And it's true, because every single time this happens in the entire game, the new statement is the false one, throwing any challenge in discovering the wrong line right out of the window! Even when this doesn't happen, it's usually still pretty obvious what to do. It's not until the fifth and final case that the game starts showing its teeth a little.
As Miles Edgeworth was made specifically for the DS, like Apollo Justice, the graphics and sound are of much higher quality than the original trilogy. Although most old characters still have the same animations as before (such as Edgeworth's well-known bow), they've all been redrawn to look much nicer and animate quite a bit more fluidly. The new characters also all look great, and, as is tradition, almost every character has an awesome "breakdown" animation they do when you've completely destroyed their argument/testimony.
Although opinions on the soundtrack seem to be divided among fans, we thought it was very good. With the same composer behind the third game's fantastic music at the helm, no less was to be expected, really. There's both unaltered and remixed music from the first three games, and, of course, plenty of completely new pieces.
The only thing that really must be noted is that this game makes frequent references to the original trilogy, both with little references and with the recalling of some major events. Therefore, it's not recommended to play it until you've played the first three games, or you'll be missing out many jokes and unwittingly spoiling the storyline!
The Ace Attorney games are popular for a reason. With fantastic writing, clever jokes, and genuinely interesting stories, they're easily among the best adventure titles around. Although referred to by some as a spin-off, Miles Edgeworth still has practically the exact same gameplay as all previous games, just with added investigating. With five more intriguing cases of surprising length to solve, it's another welcome addition to the franchise. Now to wait for the next one!