- Real Estate
- Paris Flash
Last Thanksgiving week was likely a stressful time if you were a Black Friday shopper, as people were going crazy to save on a couple of bucks on personal items and Christmas gifts. But, for those like me who were too fearful of their lives to brave the danger of the brick-and-mortar stores on Friday morning, shopping online was a wonderful alternative. I’m currently waiting on a copy of The Last of Us that I snapped up for $25 during Amazon’s Lighting Deal sales, and it’ll be here soon. Amazon’s usually pretty quick about it. Two-day delivery through Amazon Prime is pretty good, but what if they could cut the wait down to 30 minutes?
In an interview on “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled what he hopes to be the future of Amazon’s delivery system: Amazon Prime Air, delivery by drones. The service will work like this: once you’ve hit the order button on Amazon.com, your items at the Amazon fulfillment center will go into small buckets and be taken to your house by way of unmanned octocopters.
The Amazon-branded drones will be able to deliver packages up to five pounds. Not all deliveries will work this way, but it’s ideal for smaller items, which make up 86 percent of all Amazon orders. The drones are completely unmanned, directed by GPS, with a range of 10 miles. If you end up living near one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, the idea is you’ll get your package within 30 minutes or less of hitting the “buy” button.
Bezos says most of the challenge will come from proving the safety of the drones by the standards of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Once regulations are in place, Amazon Prime Air could become the next standard of home delivery. Bezos estimates that the service is 4 or 5 years away, and Amazon hopes the FAA’s rules for unmanned aerial vehicles will be in place as early as 2015.
Check out Amazon’s official Prime Air page for footage of one of their test flights.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
Microsoft’s latest video game console is out now as of Friday, November 22, and the “next generation” of video games has finally become the current. If you haven’t pre-ordered an Xbox One, you probably won’t be able to get one easily for a while, but that’s okay! Picking a new video game console should be considered a major decision, and a lot of research should be done before you drop $500 on a new machine. If you’re not ready to jump into the next generation of gaming, I’ve compiled a list of things one should know about the Xbox One, just like I did with the PlayStation 4.
How much does the Xbox One cost?
The Xbox One will retail for $499.99
What’s in the box?
The Xbox One Day One launch bundle includes an Xbox One system, a wireless controller, a headset, an HDMI cable, the power cable, a free 14-day trail of Xbox Live Gold, and the new Kinect camera (the reason for the $100 price difference compared to PS4).
What ports are on the Xbox One?
The Xbox One features a power port, an HDMI-out, an HDMI-in, three USB ports (one on the left side of the console), digital audio out, an Ethernet port, and a port for the Kinect. Like the PS4, the Xbox One is HDMI only, so make sure your TV accepts that input!
How about Internet connectivity?
The Xbox One supports both Wi-Fi and wired Internet via the Ethernet port.
Is the hard drive upgradeable?
Sort of, but not at launch. The included 500 GB hard drive is not removable, but the system will be updated later to use external hard drives via USB. If you’re tech savvy, you can disassemble the console and replace the hard drive yourself, as it is a standard 2.5-in SATA II drive, but doing so will void your warranty.
What colors are available at launch?
Just black. White systems were exclusive to Microsoft employees.
Can the Xbox One stand upright in a vertical position?
No, the Xbox One is designed only to play in a horizontal, flat position.
What can you do with the new Kinect?
The new Kinect is vastly improved over the original. Improvements have been made both to the motion sensing capabilities and voice activated control. Kinect’s user tracking features work more effectively now, whether the user is sitting down or standing up, and can now track users as close as 4.6 feet from the camera.
You will be able to navigate various menu options directly with your voice, jumping straight to system options that you would normally have to navigate to through multiple screens. If you hook up a cable or satellite box to the Xbox One, Kinect can also be used to control your TV. Many games will support voice control as well. The Kinect can also be used to scan in QR codes for times such as Xbox Live subscriptions and pre-order bonuses.
Does the Kinect need to be plugged in for the console to function?
No. The console will maintain some functionality without the Kinect plugged in.
How does multitasking work?
Probably one of the most interesting things about the Xbox One is the “Snap” feature. You’ll be able to seamlessly switch between games, TV, the Internet, and other system features without interrupting gameplay. If you do decide to take a break from a game, games are put into a suspend mode that you can resume at anytime. Even after turning the console off, you can resume your game right from where you left off next time you turn the system on. No need to wait for load or boot screens!
Will the Xbox One require a software update at launch?
Yes. You will not be able to play any games on the system until you’ve connected the system to the Internet and updated it.
Does the Xbox One require an online check-in every 24 hours?
No, Microsoft removed this security measure quite some time ago after consumer outcry. Once the initial update is installed, you’ll be able to keep your Xbox One offline for offline features, including offline games.
Can I play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One?
No. There is no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games or Xbox Live Arcade games meant for the Xbox 360.
Can I use an Xbox 360 controller on the Xbox One?
No. The Xbox One only supports Xbox One controllers.
What discs does the Xbox One play?
The Xbox One should be able to play Xbox One game discs, DVDs, Blu-rays, and audio CDs, though some of these may require free apps available on the Xbox online marketplace.
All Xbox One disc games must be installed to the hard drive to play them.
Does the Xbox One support MP3 playback?
Not at launch. A system update is supposedly coming post-launch that will allow you to play music from a USB stick.
Do I have to pay to play online?
Yes. Just like with the Xbox 360, you will need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online and access additional services on the Xbox One. If you already have a Gold subscription for the Xbox 360, it should carry over to the Xbox One. The Xbox One comes with a 14-day trial of Xbox Live Gold. Otherwise, it is $60 for a one-year subscription.
What does Xbox Live Gold get me?
Many of Xbox One’s online features are exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members.
In addition to playing games online, you can use streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu Plus. However, you will also need to be subscribed to these services separately. Cloud game saves, Game DVR game recording functions, streaming to Twitch, Skype, and Internet Explorer all require an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Will my Gamertag and Gamerscore transfer over to the Xbox One?
What TV features does the Xbox One have?
The Xbox One has an additional HDMI-in port to plug your cable box into, allowing your Xbox to control your TV with the controller or Kinect voice commands. The Kinect will even act as an IR blaster to control your television itself.
Does the Xbox One support used games?
Yes. Microsoft has gone back on their original stance and will allow users to freely trade disc-based games.
Does the Xbox One have regional locks?
Not for games, but voice controls via the Kinect are limited languages associated with the system’s region.
What Xbox One games will be available at launch?
In North America, the following game titles will be available for the Xbox One at launch:
Disc-based Games (also available for download):
Can I “upgrade” certain Xbox 360 games to work on the Xbox One?
GameStop is offering a limited time offer that allows you to trade in select Xbox 360 titles for $50 store credit towards the Xbox One version of that game.
Check Gamestop.com for more details on this offer.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
BioShock Infinite released earlier this year to much critical acclaim, and now it’s time to revisit Booker and Elizabeth in Burial at Sea, Episode 1, the first piece of episodic downloadable content for the game. Players won’t be returning to the city in the sky, however. As the name implies, it’s time to return to the sea, to Rapture, the underwater city from the original BioShock.
As DLC for BioShock Infinite, you’ll have to already own a version of the game to play Burial at Sea, which consists of two episodes at $15 each. You can get all three pieces of DLC, including the previous Clash in the Clouds arena combat DLC for only $20 with the BioShock Infinite Season Pass.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Burial at Sea takes place after the events of BioShock Infinite, and has direct ties to the revelations of that plot, so it’s heavily advised that you’ve already played through the original story mode.
You play as Booker Dewitt, though he’s not the same Booker who rescued the girl in the tower in the original game’s campaign. This Booker spends his time as a private investigator in the city of Rapture. A mysterious woman knocks at Booker’s door. She asks for a light on her cigarette, and Booker obliges. With a snap, fire ignites from his fingertips. Yes, the gene-altering plasmids are back. The warm glow that sparks the woman’s cigarette reveals a strange, but familiar face. This is Elizabeth, but she’s no longer the Disney-esque princess that accompanied Booker in his adventures in the sky. No, this woman is far less innocent, hardened and in no need of help or rescue.
She has one simple request: find a young girl named Sally. If you’re familiar with the BioShock franchise, you know what happens to little girls in Rapture. Booker insists the girl is dead, but Elizabeth knows better. She knows Booker wants to find Sally, and she tells him that she can take him to her. Booker reluctantly follows the mysterious woman out of the office and steps out into a bright and unfamiliar Rapture.
This isn’t the Rapture that players have come to know and oddly love. In a strange sight, we see Rapture prior to its fall. The architecture is in tact, humans actually look like humans, and there is nary a pool of blood or pile of corpses to muck up the pristine floors. Yes, this is Rapture in its prime, prior to the civil war that rocked the city to its core and left behind a dilapidated husk of its former glory.
The sight is short-lived, however, as you explore the ruins of a sunken department store-turned prison in search of your long lost Sally. Fontaine’s Department Store is a vision of things to come for Rapture’s dark and twisted future, an Booker must face the horrors if he is to retrieve the girl that he has a mysterious connection to.
You’ll encounter a couple of twists in the narrative and direct ties to the story of BioShock Infinite, as well as a very stunning conclusion that will intrigue you greatly about the second DLC episode.
The callbacks to the original BioShock are legion, and this DLC is most effective if you’ve already played through that. In BioShock fashion, most of the story is told through audio logs you find scattered throughout the environment. If you notice how things in this Rapture don’t match up with how things were in the old Rapture, such as the fact that EVE is now ingested rather than injected, you’ll find most discrepancies addressed in these audio logs. The problem is, you’ll have to find these logs, and if you end up missing out on some of them, large portions of the story may be left unexplained. But, again, that describes classic BioShock, and if you’re a fan of that, you’re certainly in for a treat.
The first episode of Burial At Sea is separated into two parts. While exploring the unspoiled environment of pre-civil war Rapture, there is absolutely no combat. The gameplay consists of exploring a small section of the city, oddly devoid of conflict. You’ll encounter numerous NPCs that can be mined for numerous amounts of dialogue to enhance your understanding of the setting. Your main objective becomes a small fetch quest in order to meet with fan-favorite Sander Cohen in his private club. He seems just as crazy as he was prior to the fall of Rapture, but he’s an “artist,” so who can blame him?
Once you’ve finished this short quest and reach Fontaine’s Department store, the game becomes the combat-heavy BioShock game that people are familiar with, but there are a few changes from the main gameplay of Infinite’s original story mode.
Ammo is very scarce in Burial at Sea. Your guns can only hold a small amount of ammo. However, unlike BioShock Infinite’s story mode, you are no longer limited to only holding two guns at a time. You can now carry all your weapons on you and select them with a weapon wheel interface.
Burial at Sea introduces two new weapons: the “Old Man Winter” plasmid and the “Radar Range” laser gun. The Radar Range gun fires a concentrated laser at the enemy, causing them to explode in a fountain of blood. Old Man Winter works much like the old Winterblast ice plasmid from the original BioShock, literally freezing enemies in their tracks, allowing you to shatter them. You’ll even be using it to solve environmental puzzles, such as freezing water bursting out of a pipe to make a pathway. Like in BioShock Infinite, you can also charge your plasmids to make traps for unlucky enemies.
Speaking of enemies, Splicers are back, the mutated humans that haunt the halls of sunken city. Functionally, they don’t differ much from the common enemies of BioShock Infinite. There are really only three or four types of enemies in this DLC. You’ll mostly run into enemies that wield melee weapons, and some will hold guns. Both are easily dispatched with just your own melee attack on the Normal difficulty mode, and even if you do end up dying, Elizabeth brings you back to life at the cost of in-game money. You can brute force your way through most encounters if you can afford it. Again, it’s a reflection of BioShock Infinite’s gameplay.
Combat has never been BioShock’s strongest suit, and it’s a shame that there’s still so much of it in Burial at Sea. The limited ammo encourages you to be a little more creative with your plasmid use, but it’s never really required, as I found my melee attack to be the most effective. You have to make your own fun with the combat. If you enjoyed the combat in BioShock Infinite, you’re certain to find it serviceable in this DLC, but it’s not as engaging as I would like.
Exploration serves as another gameplay element. The DLC is less linear than Infinite’s campaign, as you’re often free to choose which order you finish objectives. There’s the common “Metroid-ish” trope of finding a new ability and using it to unlock previously impeded paths. Exploring areas to their fullest will result in rewards that will reveal more about the story and improve your weapons and abilities. You can also use any money you find to buy items and upgrade your plasmids with various vending machines scattered throughout the department store’s ruins. The “Circus of Values” is back for BioShock fans, but you’ll find these machines unhackable, which is kind of a disappointment.
With no in-game map, it’s easy to get lost, but the game retains the waypoint system from Infinite that points you in the direction of your current objective. It’s not very helpful when you’re just trying to explore, though.
I once found myself unable to backtrack to a certain area due to an in-game glitch that would lock me in a room with no foreseeable escape, leading me to reload my last checkpoint. I didn’t lose much progress, but I could no longer go back to that area, as the same thing would happen, locking me out of whatever rewards I would’ve received had the game not glitched into an infinite loading loop.
And speaking of loading, the game would often grind to a halt to force a load or auto-save if I went into a new area too quickly. While not game-breaking, it did cause a bit of annoyance with how frequently it happened.
In the end, the gameplay is your typical BioShock experience. The less linear experience is welcome, but there’s not much new except for the bits of story sprinkled throughout.
We’re nearing the end of this console generation, and BioShock Infinite isn’t as technically impressive as other games out there. Burial at Sea doesn’t do much to change that.
I chose to play with the framerate unlocked, and the game suffers from extreme screen tearing with that option enabled. You’ll get a better framerate this way, but it’s variable, and those are the sacrifices you have to make. Obviously, playing this on a PC will improve the experience dramatically, depending on your system.
The art direction is what gives BioShock its unique look, and it’s here in spades. The team claims to not have reused any of the assets from the older BioShock games, so everything here should be brand new. The first half of the DLC, with Rapture in its perfect state is an interesting change of pace from both the old Rapture and Columbia. The Art Deco style returns, yet this time untouched by the ravages of the civil war. The environments are interesting, but the people less so. Character models are reused very often, and it feels like the city is full of clones. Once you enter Cohen’s private club, the visuals get more interesting, but once you land in the department store, it’s back to a ruined city.
What I did find rather exciting was the return to the darker, horror aspects of the original BioShock. Infinite was rather clean in its visuals, with only the graphic violence to provide contrast with the bright environments. The return to the dark and grotesque in Burial at Sea is quite welcome. There are a few genuinely good scares in the DLC, and it’s great to see it come back.
The DLC is very short, and I was able to beat it in around 3 hours total. There are a few opportunities to replay it, such as collecting all the bonuses and upgrades, as well as audio logs and achievements. If you want to exhaust every piece of NPC dialogue and story from the game, you could probably make the experience last longer, but the gameplay itself doesn’t offer much new. The combat is tedious if you don’t force yourself to be creative with it.
Pretty much the main reason to play this DLC is for the story that continues from BioShock Infinite. Despite some really interesting plot developments, you’ll eventually be left without a good conclusion, since the game ends in a cliffhanger, and the second episode of DLC remains to be released with no definite date.
If you do decide you want to check out the DLC, at $15 dollars an episode, it’s probably a better idea to spend 5 bucks more for the Season Pass, which will net you both DLC episodes and the Clash in the Clouds arena DLC.
I give BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, Episode 1 a 3 out of 5.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
After seven long years, the next generation of video games is finally upon us. Next Friday, on November 15, Sony’s PlayStation 4 will be on store shelves and people will be fighting to get their hands on one (at least those who didn’t pre-order).
However, plunking down 400 dollars for a new piece of hardware is not a decision to be made lightly. If you’re going to be throwing around that kind of cash, throw it with some knowledge behind it! Sony has released a document they are dubbing “The Ultimate FAQ” for the PlayStation 4. The guide features an exhaustive list of the ins and outs on the PS4 and its functionality. From it, I’ve gathered some of the more important facts about the system.
When does the PlayStation 4 come out? The PlayStation 4 launches Friday, November 15, 2013 in North America.
How much does the PS4 cost? The PS4 will retail for $399.99.
What’s in the box? Each PS4 comes with a 500 GB internal hard drive, a DualShock 4 wireless controller, a micro-USB cable, a mono-headset for voice chat, a power cable for the system itself, and an HDMI cable.
What ports are on the PS4? The PS4 has the following ports: HDMI out, optical audio out, Ethernet, two UBS 3.0 ports, a port for the PlayStation Camera (sold separately). Note that there is no multi-AV out like in Sony’s past systems. That means no support for component or composite cables. This thing is HDMI only, so make sure your TV supports that input!
How about Internet connectivity? In addition to the Ethernet port for wired Internet connection, the PS4 also supports 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi for wireless Internet.
Is the hard drive upgradeable? Users can opt to replace the 500 GB internal storage with their own, similar to how it was with the PS3. The PS4 accepts 5400 RPM SATA II hard drives larger than 160 GB and no thicker than 9.5 mm. The PS4 will NOT accept external USB hard drives as storage devices.
What colors are available at launch? Just one: “Jet Black”
Can the PS4 stand upright in a vertical position like the PS3? The PS4 can be used in a horizontal or vertical position. A vertical stand will be available for purchase during the PS4’s launch window.
Will PS4 support 4K content for video or gaming? The PS4 does not currently support 4K output for games, but Sony is looking into 4K output for still image and movie content.
Will the PS4 support 3D? The PS4 does support 3D, but no launch titles are 3D-enabled.
What discs does the PS4 play? The PS4 plays Blu-ray movies, PS4 game discs, and DVD movies. PS4 games must be installed to the system’s hard drive. Certain titles will allow you to play while installation occurs. Disc-installed games still needed to be inserted to play, even after installing them. You will need to download a day-one system software update to enable Blu-ray and DVD movie playback. The PS4 does NOT support play of audio CDs.
Does the PS4 support MP3 playback? No. You can, however, use Sony’s Music Unlimited subscription service to play background music during gameplay.
Will the PS4 require a system software update at launch? During the North American launch, the PS4 will require a system update to version 1.50 for several features. The PS4 will automatically update upon connection to the Internet. You will still be able to play Blu-ray disc games while the download occurs. You also have the option to download the update on your PC and install it on the PS4 via a USB drive.
What PS4 features will NOT be available at launch?
The following PS4 features will not be available during the North American launch:
Can I play PS3 games on the PS4? No. The PS4 does not feature backwards compatibility with PS3, PS2, or PS1 games.
Can I use the DualShock 3 PS3 controller on the PS4? No, the PS4 does not support the DualShock 3.
How do PlayStation Network accounts work? You can use your existing PSN account with the PS4, but you will NOT be able to rename your Online ID. You can, however, let your friends view you as under your real name.
Do you have to pay to play online? Yes. A PlayStation Plus membership is required for PS4 online gaming. However, certain free-to-play model games will not require PlayStation Plus for multiplayer functionality. If a non PS Plus member logs into a PS4 system owned by a PS Plus member, they will be able to play online on that system.
Does my Plus membership for PS3 or Vita count on the PS4? Yes.
What PS4 services are exclusive to PlayStation Plus members? Online multiplayer, online cloud saves, Instant Game Collection, PSN store exclusives and discounts
What network services will be free on PS4 without a PlayStation Plus membership?
Will the PS4 support media servers or DLNA support in order to stream videos or movies from a home PC? The PS4 does NOT support client functionality for media servers.
Does the PS4 support used games? Yes. The PS4 does not restrict players from playing disc-based used games. Users are free to trade, sell, and lend disc-based games freely.
Does the PS4 have regional locks? It is up to the software publisher to region lock a game for specific reasons, but in general, both digit and disc-based games from other regions should be playable on any PS4.
What PS4 games will be available at launch? In North America, the following PS4 titles are scheduled for release by November 15, 2013:
Disc-Based Games (also available for download):
Can I “upgrade” certain PS3 games to work on the PS4? For a limited time, you can digitally “upgrade” your purchase of the PS3 versions of Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Injustice: Gods Among Us, or Battlefield 4 to the PS4 version for a $9.99 upgrade fee. Check here for more details.
If you would like to learn more about the PS4, check out Sony’s full FAQ for more details on the system, the controller, peripherals, and network services.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
Court is now in session. At the defense’s bench stands a young girl clad in yellow and gravity-defying hair. She waves her hand in the air, revealing a holographic interface that digs deep into the heart of the witness, visualizing their memories and emotions. Finding discord in the witness’s heart, she knows the witness is lying! The pro wrestler-turned-mayor sits at the witness stand, cackling as if possessed by a demon. The young girl shouts at the top of her voice for the judge’s attention, but a sharp “OBJECTION!” cuts right through her plea like a razor sword through a falling feather. The source of the voice is the samurai prosecutor, held back only by his the chains that bind his wrists. This is the wacky word of law and order in Ace Attorney.
Known for the its over the top scenarios, ridiculous plot twists, and outrageous characters, the Ace Attorney series of visual novels has been depicting goofy court room drama since 2001. It’s been 5 long years since the last game in the series on the original Nintendo DS, but it’s back better than ever with Dual Destinies, available only for digital download on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
You play as defense attorney Phoenix Wright, the main star of the original trilogy, but this time he’s not alone. Joining Phoenix in his quest for justice is the aptly named Apollo Justice, the main character of the previous game, with his mystical bracelet that allows him to perceive lies by observing one’s physical behavior. Athena Cykes makes her debut as the newest member of the team, with her ability to sense a person’s emotions with the help of her robot friend Widget.
You’ll encounter a cadre of colorful characters, charming in their own unique ways. There’s the aforementioned demonically possessed mayoral wrestler and a high school girl that refuses to leave her cardboard box so that she may hide her identity as a tabloid journalist. Your primary rival is Prosecutor Simon Blackquill, the convicted murder that somehow is able to still practice law. He’ll taunt you from behind his bench, threatening you with his blade and samurai mannerisms. All the characters are crazy and memorable, fitting perfectly within the insane murder cases you’ll be undertaking.
The writing is clever and amusing, though not necessarily the product of masterful storytelling. The game is essentially a cartoon, an anime, if you will, and that’s reflected in the plot. It’s a melodramatic tale of “the dark age of law” (a phrase you’re sure to tire of as it’s mentioned repeatedly throughout the game), but there’s enough twist and turns to keep up interest. Sometimes it can get a little too convoluted (the second case especially), but, for the most part, the stories will keep you intrigued for hours on end. If you’re anything like me, once you’re hooked, you’ll lose track in time, and suddenly 5 hours will have passed without you knowing it!
The game is separated into 5 different cases, though not necessarily in chronological order. Though the cases are, for the most part, self-contained, some will have direct connections to others. Revelations in one will completely change your view of the events of another, leading up to a very exciting conclusion.
The gameplay remains mostly unchanged from previous Ace Attorney games. It consists of two parts: investigations and trials. Both of these things have been streamlined to make it easier in comparison to previous games in the series.
Investigations involve examining environments for clues and questioning witnesses. Unlike in previous games, you can only examine environments when prompted, reducing the amount of investigating you’ll be doing. It’s both a good and bad thing, but mostly good. On one hand, there’s less things to interact with, meaning less content in the form of small, witty descriptions of mundane objects. Only important items are observable, and once you’ve examined all pertinent objects in a scene, the game will automatically force you to the next part of the story. You’ll no longer get lost, searching for the one tiny detail that you glossed over the first time, or waste time looking into red herrings.
The game now presents crime scenes in full 3D in environments, but you still can’t freely explore them. You can instead choose different angles to view the scene from, revealing items and details that were otherwise invisible from another angle. The game now denotes which specific items in the environment are observable with a red circle and adds a checkmark to them once you’ve viewed it, making it easier to know which objects you’ve already gone over and which ones remain to be examined.
Investigations now include a “Notes” section in your inventory, which acts as “to do list.” If you’re not sure what to do, this list will point you in the right direction, telling you what you should investigate or who you should interview. You’ll still have to guess at what piece of evidence you should present to get more out of the witnesses, but the game does a better job at hinting towards the correct procedure. Like the other games, it’s impossible to miss anything that will prevent you from moving the story along.
The trials have always been the most exciting part of the Ace Attorney games, and Dual Destinies provides no exception. This is where most of the twists will occur, and in the most theatrical of fashions. The gameplay in court mainly consists of the cross examination of witnesses, grilling them for the truth. Characters will offer a series of statements about the crime and it’s your job to point out the lies and inconsistencies in their testimonies using the evidence you’ve found. For instance, a witness will insist that he saw the bomb that’s critical to the case, but you can catch him in the lie by presenting a photo of the bomb hidden inside a stuffed animal. Unless the witness had x-ray vision, he couldn’t possibly have seen the bomb in question! One fault that has persisted since the inception of the series is that the game wants you to present a specific piece of evidence at a specific time. It can be frustrating if you see where the case is going ahead of time, but can’t present your decisive evidence because the game has decided it isn’t the time to do so yet.
his element of the game is the only part in which you can fail. Presenting the wrong evidence at the wrong time will negatively impact the judge’s patience, indicated by a green bar on the screen. Once the bar is depleted, you will receive a game over. However, unlike previous entries in the series, you’re given the option to try again right before the exact point of failure with a full patience bar, so getting a game over serves little consequence. Another interesting addition to the game is the “Consult” option. If you present the wrong evidence enough times, your assistant will point out the exact faulty statement that you must object to.
This game in particular offers different takes on the above formula. Every once in a while, you’ll be tasked with using Athena or Apollo’s special abilities to get more out of questioning. Returning from the previous game, Apollo will have to observe small changes in body behavior that suggests that a witness is stretching the truth. For example, you might notice a witness’s tie fluttering when they mention a certain phrase, indicating that the phrase is a lie. Pointing out these subtle behaviors is probably the most difficult part of the game, since it’s a long, boring process, but luckily it happens very few times in the game and guessing wrong incurs no penalty.
More often you’ll be utilizing Athena’s special ability: the Mood Matrix, which is completely new to the series. With the help of the robot companion on her necklace, Athena can listen in to the hearts of characters and ascertain their true feelings. If a witness is showing signs of happiness in a moment that should be sad, you can call them out on the inconsistency, revealing more to the story. As the game progresses, these sequences get more complicated, but you’re never penalized for getting it wrong, so if you can’t figure out the solution, you can resort to trial and error.
The game lies in “visual novel” genre of gaming, meaning you’ll be doing a lot of reading. One very welcome new feature is the text log, which documents all the previous dialogue for perusal at your own pace. It’s useful for going over things you might have missed or accidentally skipped over. However, it seems to be slightly bugged, as sometimes going into the text log will result in blank entries. It eventually corrects itself, but that dialogue remains missing from your log, which is very annoying.
There are multiple opportunities for player interaction, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter, as the plot will play out the same way, regardless of your choices. The only thing to impede your progress will be the logic puzzles, and you’ll need a keen mind to find the contradictions in witness statements and the evidence that proves it.
Dual Destinies truly takes advantage of the superior hardware of the 3DS as compared to the original DS. The art direction and production values are phenomenal. The flat character sprites of the previous games have been replaced by beautifully rendered 3D models. Not only do the character models keep with the cartoony design of the originals, but they also are livelier and brimming with more personality than ever thanks to their charming animations. They work rather well with the 3D display, as characters will often reach out to the player’s perspective. It looks fluid for the most part, though at times the detail in the models can bog down the animations, resulting in a choppy framerate. It only happens a handful of times, so it doesn’t hamper the experience by much.
Even the game’s backgrounds make great use of the 3D. They’re layered in such a way that gives them impressive depth, especially in comparison to the flat 2D backgrounds from the old games. Though, when investigating crime scenes, I felt like I had to turn the 3D off, since my eyes couldn’t decide whether to focus on the onscreen cursor or the backgrounds.
True to form, the sound design in Dual Destinies is exceptional. The 3DS allows for higher fidelity sound effects, but you’ll still hear things like the classic “thump” when Phoenix slams his hands down on the desk. The music is extraordinary, dictating the pace of the court cases, playing suspenseful tunes when a mystery is being explored, and then exploding into a rapid triumphant score once the truth has been revealed. It really makes the court room segments exciting, which is saying a lot since it’s mostly just text that moves the story forward.
Unfortunately, the quality is inconsistent when it comes to the animated cutscenes and voice acting. For the first time ever, Dual Destinies features fully animated anime movies for narrative purposes, but the animation in these scenes is less than stellar, and the voice acting is often cringe worthy. The limited animation and voice samples in gameplay do a better job of conveying drama, while the animated cutscenes bring more about feelings of embarrassment. They’re only a small part of the game, however, and I suppose they serve the purpose of giving the player a break from the enormous amounts of text they’ll be reading.
One other sticking point is the amount of typos in the game, and when the game is all about reading, that’s kind of a big deal. There’s nothing so bad that you’ll misinterpret the story (though one graphical glitch that exists only in the English version of the game may leave a glaring plot hole in one case). It’s a shame that with all the polish of the in-game visuals, the localization wasn’t given as much care.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is a great visual novel experience, and it’s a shame that the game is only available for digital download on the Nintendo eShop, restricting trade-ins and preventing the lending of the game to a friend (like any good book, you’ll want to lend it to others to share the experience!).
If you’re into reading tales of court room drama, murder mysteries, and tons of crazy twists, I definitely recommend it. However, if you’re looking for a more interactive experience, you may have to look elsewhere. The game is all about the story and puzzles, and once you’ve plowed through it all, there’s little replay value left. Otherwise, the beautiful art style and charming characters will keep you hooked for probably more than 20 incredible hours before you complete the game.
I give Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies a 4 out of 5 for its zany court room antics.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra