|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 19, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
But Still Awesome!
by Joseph Catalanotto
Before the DS, anybody would have called you insane to hear you talking about a video game in which you play a lawyer. But thanks to Nintendo's nifty little portable, such conversation is perfectly acceptable. The immense popularity of the first three North American-released Phoenix Wright games has thankfully given way to the release of a fourth. Same old? Not exactly.
Because much to the delight of Ace Attorneys around the country, Apollo Justice is the first of the series that's made from the ground up for the Nintendo DS. And because of that, Apollo Justice offers a really awesome, exciting Ace Attorney experience that ranks up there with the original game.
Upon first powering up the game, fans will likely notice the absence of our favorite spiky-haired defense attorney. Phoenix is out of the picture, and his mysterious disappearance is fully explained as you progress through the title. There's plenty of backstory to unravel here, but as always your biggest concern (playing of Apollo) is proving each of your clients innocent. The evidence is stacked (well, maybe not at first ) against you, the prosecution has the unfair advantage of being able to blurt out random crap without being penalized, and the judge acts as if he's being bribed. But the truth will find a way out, though you're certainly going to need to facilitate it.
How? Via the time-tested (and as a result, mildly recycled) gameplay mechanic of Ace Attorney. The game, as has been the case (pun not intended) with past iterations of the franchise, is divided up into two sections. First, you'll travel around with your assistant (who possesses an interesting connection to Phoenix himself, I might add) questioning witnesses, collecting clues, and attempting to piece together the crime. You'll visit logical locales like the crime scene, naturally, as well as other areas that may be able to help you out -- for example, the local police precinct. This section of the game is where all the point-and-click action resides: simply double-tap an item, building, environmental feature, or anything that seems out of the ordinary, and it'll be investigated.
Once you've gathered up all your clues, the next (and significantly more enjoyable) part of Ace Attorney begins. The prosecution calls witnesses to the stand, and as the defense attorney it's your job to cross-examine them and find out if they're lying. And I'll go ahead and tell you: they're lying. Always. They may not mean to, or they may be the mastermind behind the crime, but everybody that gets put up on the witness stand testifies falsely to some extent. Using the evidence that you've accumulated throughout your investigation, it's your job to pinpoint the inaccuracies in the witnesses' testimonies by revealing contradictions between what they say and the evidence in the court record.
It's a lot of fun, and it can also be quite difficult, which isn't something that Ace Attorney games have necessarily been known for in the past. The first two games, while fun, were quite easy, and the third experienced a spike in difficulty. That trend is continued with Apollo Justice which, as far as I'm concerned, is a very good thing. That's not to say, however, that it's only for the Ace Attorney elite -- far from it, Apollo Justice offers a well-done tutorial (though it'll be excruciatingly boring for the aforementioned veterans of the series) and has a great learning curve that honest-to-goodness makes it quite easy for anybody to pick up and play.