Reviews: Professor Layton And The Miracle Mask

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Layton in 3D - spoilers!
If you don't like Professor Layton games, this isn't for you. If you do like them, this is for you. This game won't change your mind either way. What it will do, is provide you with the standard Layton formula, though with a few shake-ups. For one thing, the games have finally transitioned into 3D. The environments, the characters, the puzzles, all involve 3D in some way. Since that's the only major change, that's what this review will focus on. The new environments are very colorful, and beautiful, but in a very different way than the 2D games. Neither one is better, they're just different. It takes a little bit of time to adjust to the new way of traveling through the world, but it soon feels natural. The puzzles, sadly, do not make as good a use of the 3D as they could. While a few occasionally use the top screen, it generally does not affect your attempts to solve them. This is where the 3D starts to feel a bit tacked on, and it's a real shame. The characters now move more fluidly during conversations, but it's still on preset cycles like the previous games, so it's not much of a change. The models have an odd combination of hand-drawn and CGI, which can be off-putting at times. There are also issues with clipping and the occasional glitch, but thankfully these are rare. The pert that suffers the most are the cutscenes. While the larger story ones filmed in the traditional Layton fashion look better than ever, the CGI ones are woefully sub-par. It's here where you can really see the polygons, and it's clear these scenes were rushed through production. With all that said, my final verdict for the 3D is that unless they find a way to improve it in Azran Legacies, I'd rather go back to the old style. It just doesn't seem to offer anything. As for the rest of the game, the characters are charming, the villains are intriguing, and the story is heartwarming. It's standard Layton stuff. One thing I did notice was the villain was easy to predict, although kudos for throwing me for a loop with Bloom and Targent. Also, I can't help but wonder why Layton thinks it's his fault Randall 'died'. Randall refused to let go of the mask, and doomed himself. If he had given it up, he would've lived. Still, as a whole the story works, and is quite moving. Layton fans should check it out, non-fans should give it a miss.
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