The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve | Developer: Capcom | Publisher: Capcom | Year: 2017
Better than its predecessor, if only marginally so, The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve is another zany and overlong adventure that misses the high bar set by Phoenix Wright.
The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve cover art featuring characters from the game.

The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve

The word “resolve” is a fitting subtitle for this second game in the The Great Ace Attorney duology. It represents the willpower our heroes must embody to finally see justice done, as well as the willpower players will need to finish such an arduously long visual novel to begin with.

Ryunosuke Naruhodo and his detective friends are back to find clues, grill witnesses, and unveil villainy with the aid of hard evidence and dramatic finger pointing. This time around, a grand Victorian era conspiracy hides a legal case decades in the making, as our heroic defence attorney battles friend and foe alike on a quest to save London’s legal system from total collapse.

The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve is a step above its predecessor for a couple of reasons. Its excellent soundtrack somehow tops the original, the stakes feel bigger, and while the gameplay itself hasn’t changed, the writers do tie up lingering story threads to make each case feel more conclusive and satisfying.

There aren’t many breathers from the enormous central plot though, and neither are there any cute standalone episodes to break up important chapters. It makes this sequel feel long even by the usual standards, with case 1 featuring a lot of tired recapping, and case 2 feeling like a warmed-up retread of the previous game’s case 4.

The second case drags because it happens entirely in flashback, and even then it devotes too much time to stale comic relief characters. It’s hours into this game before the plot builds any momentum, and that’s before some of the spoiled twists and that one courtroom scene which simply must answer the pressing question of how a notice board fell over. Please, I can only take so much excitement!

Conversely, the opening case featuring Susato-san masquerading as a “gallant and dashing” male attorney is fun. It works because of Susato’s consistent presentation as a bravely intelligent woman of law, not to mention the hilarious fawning of her lovestruck female client (who remains oblivious to the deception). There were surely more opportunities to freshen things up like this, but Resolve is more second act than sequel, with Susato-san (and others) ending up right back where they were before long.

The third case is uncharacteristically good though. Case 3 is normally an awkward slot in the Ace Attorney running order, but here the drama accelerates alongside an inventive mystery. Players deal with a sympathetic jury of scientific experts, and it’s cool seeing how they consider the evidence you present. Another cool twist is how the defendant then fights back against your arguments when they contradict his scientific theories! It’s very clever in the context of the story.

Herlock Sholmes also remains a delight. “To earn four pounds per week, one must be prepared to turn a blind eye to a little danger,” he says with all too relatable determination. His deduction mini games continue to hurt the pacing, sadly, and they make him seem like a bumbling idiot despite being written as an eccentric genius elsewhere. The psychology is slightly weird, but I was glad to see the final deduction in case 4 go completely over-the-top silly because I wasn’t enjoying these lukewarm segments otherwise.

Overall, Resolve is definitely the more entertaining half of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. If only its final case had hit the emotional highs we’ve come to expect from the franchise. While the stakes in case 5 here do feel bigger, the villains aren’t as dastardly or desperate as they should be, and for all the time spent unravelling a convoluted conspiracy, the complete tale is overly long and emotionally disengaging most of the time. As Baron Von Zieks says, “This farce has gone on for so long already, I see no reason to cut it short before its disappointing climax.”

There are some promising scenes here where the script is voice acted. I kept thinking how awesome that could be as a next step for the series. Even a partially voiced Ace Attorney would demand a higher budget and a much leaner script, but let’s not fool ourselves — those bloated plots could use some trimming.

At the time of writing, Capcom has announced another HD compilation collecting the fourth, fifth, and sixth Ace Attorney games, but if the opportunity should arise to break the series free of its handheld roots and move it into a new generation of innovative courtroom storytelling, you certainly wouldn’t find me objecting.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles on Steam »