L.A. Noire v. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney... A Landmark Case

Two things happened semi-recently that motivated me to replay games that I’ve loved - a sale on the season pass of L.A. Noire and the announcement of Ace Attorney 5. As a result, I went back to my shelf to pull out L.A. Noire and the first Ace Attorney game to see if I would enjoy them as much as I did when I played them when they were released.

L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire was easily in my top 10 games of last year. The facial animations were astounding, and as a fan of games that involve sleuthing, I was glad it was more of an adventure/detective game, rather than the shooter that Rockstar tried to portray in the TV commercials I would often see. With the season pass going on sale on the XBLM, I thought that this would be a perfect time to go back and revisit 1950’s Los Angeles.

With the season pass came four cases: A Slip of the Tongue on the Traffic desk, Reefer Madness and The Naked City on Vice, and Nicholson Electroplating on Arson. Personally, I thought The Naked City was by far the best in the DLC. It was long, involved, and provided enough twists and turns to keep me enraptured in suspense. On the other hand, Nicholson Electroplating was severely disappointing. While the others were extra cases added that didn’t need any context of the entire story, Nicholson Electroplating starts off by referencing what happened in the previous case, and because I completed the game over a year ago, I was extremely confused with what Cole and his partner were discussing in the beginning. Although this case starts off with a literal bang (hah!), it has an extremely abrupt ending. You don’t end up even solving the case, and the whole thing is left completely hanging. The best part of each case in L.A. Noire is doing the investigating and interrogating so you’re able to catch the criminal, and without that satisfaction, Nicholson Electroplating falls flat on its face.

"If you don't stop lying, I will throw you in the slammer! ... Thank you very much for the information sir."

Revisiting this game also opened my eyes to some stuff. I was so in love with how there was a great game about police and detective work that I gave the benefit of the doubt to some of the aspects that were awkward. Now, after having distanced myself from this game for more than a year, some quirks definitely caught my eye negatively. The loudest complaint that people had with the game was the change of emotion Cole would exhibit during the interrogations. Before, I thought this was a rather minor fault to an otherwise excellent game. But after playing through the DLC cases, that reversal of tone was really jarring. One moment Cole is yelling at a suspect to tell him the goddamn truth, and the next moment he’s calmly asking a question in a normal voice. I’m not sure if this became so apparent for me this time around because I’ve heard the public mention that grievance ad nauseum, but the fact remains that I noticed it now. Regardless, this is a finely designed game, with the still ridiculously good facial animations and the ingenious sound cues.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, on the other hand, felt like it was better a second time around. This game is just so gosh darn charming. Without giving away story details, it's hard for me to articulate why I adore this game so much. Suffice it to say that this game simply warms my heart with endless joy. Enough time has passed since I completed it, so it felt like I was experiencing it again for the first time. My favorite part of each case would probably be the ridiculous animation the suspect would perform once he or she is finally caught.

Why do I have this feeling this franchise is under appreciated? More people need to play these games!

Phoenix Wright is by no means a perfect game however. I still vastly prefer the court sessions over the investigative portions of the game. Cross-examining and trying to find the contradiction is much more engaging to me than scouring each item at the crime scene. Also, the game would only progress once you've explored each option that the game wants you to explore, so if you forgot to examine a minor detail, then the game wouldn't progress the story. It was a bummer when it occasionally felt like a pixel hunt. In addition, you would sometimes have to present specific pieces of evidence to certain individuals during the investigative phase to move forward, and sometimes the object you would have to show felt real arbitrary.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was originally a GBA game that came out for Japan in 2001. The DS version was released in the US in 2005, and it came with an extra case, Rise From The Ashes. Because this was a brand new case Capcom developed for the DS version specifically, there are new features implemented in this case only that involved the DS in more unique ways. However, because the first 4 cases were all developed at once for one game, they are all tenuously correlated, and I enjoyed that there was a feeling of continuation from each case. It also doesn't help that my favorite character was absent in the fifth case…

I saved the best part of Phoenix Wright for last: the soundtrack. Each song perfectly captures what you’re feeling at that moment, whether you’re cornering some lying bastard (every time this song would start, I would be pumping my fist in the air… in my head, of course), or having a heartfelt moment with Maya. And without further ado, here is my favorite song in the entire game:

At their cores, L.A. Noire and Phoenix Wright are both games of the same vein; they’re detective/interrogative/investigative games that you have playing the role of someone actively looking for the truth. However, the setting they present cannot be more different. In one, you’re working for a crooked police force in a glamorous city with a dirty underside, and in another you’re in a goofy world filled with charming characters that doesn't take itself too seriously. L.A. Noire is aiming for intense realism, while Phoenix Wright is light-hearted all around. Regardless of these radical differences, if you’re someone who has any sort of passing interest in these types of games, both L.A. Noire and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney are superb games that fit the bill perfectly.

8 Comments
8 Comments
Edited by wumbo3000

Two things happened semi-recently that motivated me to replay games that I’ve loved - a sale on the season pass of L.A. Noire and the announcement of Ace Attorney 5. As a result, I went back to my shelf to pull out L.A. Noire and the first Ace Attorney game to see if I would enjoy them as much as I did when I played them when they were released.

L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire was easily in my top 10 games of last year. The facial animations were astounding, and as a fan of games that involve sleuthing, I was glad it was more of an adventure/detective game, rather than the shooter that Rockstar tried to portray in the TV commercials I would often see. With the season pass going on sale on the XBLM, I thought that this would be a perfect time to go back and revisit 1950’s Los Angeles.

With the season pass came four cases: A Slip of the Tongue on the Traffic desk, Reefer Madness and The Naked City on Vice, and Nicholson Electroplating on Arson. Personally, I thought The Naked City was by far the best in the DLC. It was long, involved, and provided enough twists and turns to keep me enraptured in suspense. On the other hand, Nicholson Electroplating was severely disappointing. While the others were extra cases added that didn’t need any context of the entire story, Nicholson Electroplating starts off by referencing what happened in the previous case, and because I completed the game over a year ago, I was extremely confused with what Cole and his partner were discussing in the beginning. Although this case starts off with a literal bang (hah!), it has an extremely abrupt ending. You don’t end up even solving the case, and the whole thing is left completely hanging. The best part of each case in L.A. Noire is doing the investigating and interrogating so you’re able to catch the criminal, and without that satisfaction, Nicholson Electroplating falls flat on its face.

"If you don't stop lying, I will throw you in the slammer! ... Thank you very much for the information sir."

Revisiting this game also opened my eyes to some stuff. I was so in love with how there was a great game about police and detective work that I gave the benefit of the doubt to some of the aspects that were awkward. Now, after having distanced myself from this game for more than a year, some quirks definitely caught my eye negatively. The loudest complaint that people had with the game was the change of emotion Cole would exhibit during the interrogations. Before, I thought this was a rather minor fault to an otherwise excellent game. But after playing through the DLC cases, that reversal of tone was really jarring. One moment Cole is yelling at a suspect to tell him the goddamn truth, and the next moment he’s calmly asking a question in a normal voice. I’m not sure if this became so apparent for me this time around because I’ve heard the public mention that grievance ad nauseum, but the fact remains that I noticed it now. Regardless, this is a finely designed game, with the still ridiculously good facial animations and the ingenious sound cues.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, on the other hand, felt like it was better a second time around. This game is just so gosh darn charming. Without giving away story details, it's hard for me to articulate why I adore this game so much. Suffice it to say that this game simply warms my heart with endless joy. Enough time has passed since I completed it, so it felt like I was experiencing it again for the first time. My favorite part of each case would probably be the ridiculous animation the suspect would perform once he or she is finally caught.

Why do I have this feeling this franchise is under appreciated? More people need to play these games!

Phoenix Wright is by no means a perfect game however. I still vastly prefer the court sessions over the investigative portions of the game. Cross-examining and trying to find the contradiction is much more engaging to me than scouring each item at the crime scene. Also, the game would only progress once you've explored each option that the game wants you to explore, so if you forgot to examine a minor detail, then the game wouldn't progress the story. It was a bummer when it occasionally felt like a pixel hunt. In addition, you would sometimes have to present specific pieces of evidence to certain individuals during the investigative phase to move forward, and sometimes the object you would have to show felt real arbitrary.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was originally a GBA game that came out for Japan in 2001. The DS version was released in the US in 2005, and it came with an extra case, Rise From The Ashes. Because this was a brand new case Capcom developed for the DS version specifically, there are new features implemented in this case only that involved the DS in more unique ways. However, because the first 4 cases were all developed at once for one game, they are all tenuously correlated, and I enjoyed that there was a feeling of continuation from each case. It also doesn't help that my favorite character was absent in the fifth case…

I saved the best part of Phoenix Wright for last: the soundtrack. Each song perfectly captures what you’re feeling at that moment, whether you’re cornering some lying bastard (every time this song would start, I would be pumping my fist in the air… in my head, of course), or having a heartfelt moment with Maya. And without further ado, here is my favorite song in the entire game:

At their cores, L.A. Noire and Phoenix Wright are both games of the same vein; they’re detective/interrogative/investigative games that you have playing the role of someone actively looking for the truth. However, the setting they present cannot be more different. In one, you’re working for a crooked police force in a glamorous city with a dirty underside, and in another you’re in a goofy world filled with charming characters that doesn't take itself too seriously. L.A. Noire is aiming for intense realism, while Phoenix Wright is light-hearted all around. Regardless of these radical differences, if you’re someone who has any sort of passing interest in these types of games, both L.A. Noire and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney are superb games that fit the bill perfectly.

Posted by Chaser324

You mention the excellent Phoenix Wright soundtrack, but don't forget that LA Noire also had a pretty fantastic soundtrack as well. It really did a lot to help solidify that classic noir feel:

Also, if you haven't already done so, definitely seek out the orchestral arrangements of songs from the Ace Attorney games. There are some jazz arrangements as well, but I'm not a big fan of those.

Moderator
Posted by Petiew
@wumbo3000
The more I played of L.A. Noire the less I enjoyed it. The game makes a great first impression but it eventually wore off on me. I'd attribute it to the string of homicide cases where you basically ended up checking the body the exact same way every time. It just became laborious after a while.
Does it lend itself well to being played through a second time? There're a lot of clues that I missed or suspects I didn't press for info the first time through which I imagine could really change how you play through each case.
 
The Ace Attorney series is among my favourite franchises of all time. The First game in the series was actually the final one I played, I had to import a Japanese copy because I couldn't find a single one here. The original game still holds up very well
The original still holds up really, especially for what is now an 11 year old game. Although the sequels improved the gameplay and length of each case all of the cases in PW:AA are still great in their own rights.
Turnabout Sisters is one of my personal favourites too, honourable mention to Steel Samurai.
Have you got a personal favourite game/case in the series?
 
Posted by wumbo3000

@Chaser324: You're totally right, the L.A. Noire soundtrack is great as well. I guess the reason Phoenix Wright's music made more of an impact on me is because it's much more upbeat and in your face. It's catchy, poppy, and vibrant. The L.A. Noire soundtrack is way more ambient and smooth. Both totally excellent, yet different. Fits the point of my blog really well! And the jazz and orchestral arrangements are amazing too. I really like what Capcom has done with the music for the Ace Attorney franchise.

@Petiew: You're right, all of the homicide cases end up being vaguely similar, and I could see a person getting turned off at that point. The homicide desk also has the most cases in it, so it may be a tough hurdle to leap. However, if you do manage to stick with it, the vice desk can hopefully change your mind. In my opinion, the vice desk has by far the most interesting cases. The great thing about L.A. Noire is that you don't need to find every clue or interrogate every suspect to finish the case. Although I believe that investigating and interrogating is what makes L.A. Noire fun, the game doesn't punish you for missing certain things.

My personal favorite is Trials and Tribulations, but as for a favorite case, I don't remember enough to narrow it down. It's most likely the final case in Trials and Tribulations, but after finishing the first one, I'm gonna be playing through the entire franchise again to refresh my memory. Because I don't actually remember the specific story events, it's like I'm playing again for the first time!

While we're on the subject, I love Apollo Justice too. I don't know why people gave that game so much flak. Phoenix in an advisor/mentor type role was awesome.

Edited by Petiew
@wumbo3000: I did actually push through and finish L.A. Noire even after getting burned out midway through homicide. The more I played the less patient I became with the game. I also didn't like the direction the story took, and the gameplay in the final few cases. I understand why they went this route, but it just never clicked with me. Still, it was a decent game and gave a great first impression.
 
Trials and Tribulations definitely had some of the most solid cases. The way they linked 4 of the main cases together and eventually tied all of the little points up was very well done. My personal favourite case has to be the final case in Justice for All. They really flipped the whole game around with that one, probably th only time I actually felt really tense playing through the games.
 
Apollo Justice was a decent enough game. People generally had a problem with the way they portrayed Phoenix in the game. I don't feel as strongly about this, but a lot of people feel they ruined his character. 
I thought the cases themselves were lacking. The 2nd case was silly with unlikeable characters. The 3rd had so many logical fallacies and the repeating video and music sections were annoying. The 4th was very anti-climactic. In every other case there's the point where you finally wear the culprit down then win with the final conclusive bit of evidence. In this one there was literally a "Do you want to beat the game?" [Yes] [No] button.
Posted by SpunkyHePanda

I like to play through the Phoenix Wright trilogy every now and then. You're right about the music; the first game has one of the best game soundtracks I've ever heard. And even though I love every case in Justice For All (besides the first one), it's my least favorite game of the three because I feel the soundtrack kind of sucks compared to the other two. The music really is a crucial part of the courtroom scenes.

Edited by Heartagram

I actually have never made it through a phoenix wright game. I feel like the investigation stuff is a lot more tedious than it needs to be and I get bored. L. A. Noire however I really really enjoyed. It made you feel like a detective on the case. I loved interrogating people as well. Trying to read their faces and see if you can tell what they are thinking. The DLC was especially good as well.

Posted by wumbo3000

@Heartagram said:

I actually have never made it through a phoenix wright game. I feel like the investigation stuff is a lot more tedious than it needs to be and I get bored. L. A. Noire however I really really enjoyed. It made you feel like a detective on the case. I loved interrogating people as well. Trying to read their faces and see if you can tell what they are thinking. The DLC was especially good as well.

Yeah, sometimes the investigation can drag on. But I feel like the courtroom drama that you experience is worth the occasionally boring investigation.