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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (DS) artwork

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (DS) review

"Justice for All is a complete rehash of the first Phoenix Wright. The engine is the same, just about all of the graphics are reused, some of the music is recycled, and the gameplay is virtually identical. Can you live with that? If the answer is "yes", then you should enjoy your time with Phoenix Wright 2. "

Justice for All is a complete rehash of the first Phoenix Wright. The engine is the same, just about all of the graphics are reused, some of the music is recycled, and the gameplay is virtually identical. Can you live with that? If the answer is "yes", then you should enjoy your time with Phoenix Wright 2.

Just as in the first game, you play as the eponymous Phoenix Wright, a goodie-two-shoes defense lawyer. Throughout each one of the game's four cases, it's up to Phoenix to clear his client of a murder charge and simultaneously find the real killer, who conveniently are always caught during their testimonies at court. The odds are always overwhelmingly against Phoenix, with damning evidence against his clients all over the place, but this belies a network of falsities and cover-ups that you must unravel before the defendant can get off the hook. There isn't much of a "game" here, per se: you spend 99% of your time reading dialogue. In court, you need to point out contradictions between witness testimony and evidence, and outside of court, you wander around for clues and talk to people. Phoenix Wright 2, just like its predecessor, is a very formulaic game.

And that's part of the problem this time around. Despite the game's attempts to mix things up in the final case, Justice for All is a very predictable experience. Whenever the game tries to create suspense during the courtroom segments by making it look like you're about to lose, it falls flat, since you know that something is always going to come out of nowhere and save the day. It's like watching an episode of Power Rangers: it's difficult to sympathize with the good guys, because you know they're always going to win no matter what. The constant use of deus ex machina throughout the adventure becomes obnoxious at best and infuriating at worst by the time you reach the end. After two games and nine cases total, I can safely say that I am tired of the Phoenix Wright formula.

That's not to say that there isn't good things to say about Justice for All; quite the contrary. The dialogue is often witty, and just when you're getting bored by the constant barrages of banter between characters, someone will pipe in with a funny comment that'll make you chuckle. The storytelling here isn't great; Phoenix Wright's foreshadowing is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. No mention of any plot point gets by without someone reminding you about all the details of said point, as if you have the memory span of a goldfish. "Yeah, I just saw Bob walking down the hallway." "Hey, Phoenix! Remember Bob, the guy we just spoke to three minutes ago and mentioned that he had a grudge against the victim and he didn't have an alibi so isn't that suspicious?!" "Hmm, now that you mention it, I guess it is."

The court segments are by far the best parts of the game, since they're filled with "Eureka!" moments when you realize that you've caught a witness red-handed in their web of lies. Even though all you really do here is present evidence to the right dialogue windows, the tension between the defense and the prosecution lends a certain energy to these parts that you'd be hard-pressed not to enjoy.

The investigation portions are still pretty ho-hum. You wander around, you talk to people, you talk to people, and you just keep on talking to people. Since almost all of the game's plot development happens inside the courtroom, much of the dialogue in these parts seems to be there for the sake of being there. The game does introduce one new feature (and I do mean one new feature) in the form of Psyche-Locks, which are basically mini-trials with a person's mind. Whenever you need to uncover a big secret about a given character, locked chains will suddenly appear around them and you'll need to present the right evidence to them until they crack. You'll be dreading the appearance of these locks by the end of the game, since what it really means it that you'll have to backtrack, sift through another metric ton of dialogue, and tap your feet impatiently until you get the evidence you need.

The game is also incredibly linear. There are no alternate paths to follow or secrets to uncover, and since you can't speed up unread dialogue, replaying any part of Phoenix Wright becomes tedious faster than you can say "HOLD IT!" While it's difficult to get a game over--you need to present quite a bit of incorrect evidence during court to do it--I can personally attest to the fact that having to do parts of a trial over again is the most annoying thing ever. Just like the first game, Justice for All has zero replay value.

So, should you play Phoenix Wright 2? If you liked Phoenix Wright 1, yes. The pros are the same, the cons are the same, and if it weren't for the Psyche-Locks, the game would be the same. If playing a legal-themed adventure game with quirky characters at every turn sounds like your thing, then it's probably your thing. Give it a shot.

phediuk's avatar
Community review by phediuk (January 30, 2007)

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