Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
Objection! This game is too good to pass up, your Honor!
Man, that is fun, isn't it? Capcom introduced us to the world's first interactive video game attorney with last year's release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, which got some much-deserved attention. The idea of being an attorney may not be one of great aspiration (especially to those who would prefer to kill things instead or play sports), but Capcom put together an awesome gameplay package that includes looking over evidence, finding lies in witness testimonies, and countering a tough prosecutor with every possible thing you can muster. Now players can go and live it all over again with the recent import release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All, which is more US-friendly than you might think.
We begin the game by discovering Phoenix at the start of a very bad day. He's just had a nightmare where a large, looming judge figure is about to let him have it, and then he's knocked out by a mystery man that gives him temporary amnesia. And right before a court case involving an innocent policewoman being tried for murder! Fortunately, over the course of the game, Phoenix is able to rediscover his attorneying powers and puts them to good use against the tough prosecution and a handful of troublesome witnesses.
The game is modified a little bit from the original in order to provide some comfort. The "Strike" system has now been replaced with a green energy bar that is eaten away once evidence is mispresented or a useless question or accusation comes into play. Fortunately, the game's first case is a little lenient, with Maya, your assistant, providing advice along the way. Phoenix can also access character profiles and present them to the court as evidence, as a way to show how a persona could very well fit into the crime. Other than these new features, the gameplay is about the same, but is quite challenging, especially the later case. The prosecutor will pull out several things in an attempt to stop Phoenix from successfully defending his client. It gets to the point that you wonder why he wasn't called for contempt so long ago.
The game also takes you outside of the courtroom to gather evidence, interview people, and visit locations. This adds a nice depth to the game, although there's really not much exploring involved. It's just a matter of finding the clues and solving the case- but that's good enough for us.
The presentation's not remarkable, but it fits the tone of the game very well. There's fun little animations in the characters, namely some flamboyant witnesses and Phoenix, who looks hilarious in the middle of a meltdown. The music's pretty repetitive, sounding like elevator music in the L.A. Law building. Sound effects, though, are very cool. "OBJECTION!" is back in full force, along with "TAKE THAT!" and other little fun effects.
The import provides a great bonus, though. Players who don't want to put up with Japanese text don't have to. They can hit the brown box on the title screen, and the language changes over to English. This is very cool, and makes the game far more import friendly than most releases on the market. The translation could be better at times, as misspellings and flubs come into play a bit more often than we'd like, but it's still easy enough to understand.
There's two things that bug us about Justice For All. The first is the fact that the game is over in a matter of four cases. The later cases in the game are quite difficult to beat, and you really have to use your lawyering noggin to get through them. However, Capcom didn't provide an option to download cases or interact with the old game in any way. Sigh. Also, if the game's already translated in English and ready to go, why did Capcom push it to a January release here in the States? Shouldn't an instantaneous release be made to give lawyer wanna-bes an ideal Christmas present?
Regardless of little flubs and a lack of true longevity, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All is a game that truly must be played, especially if you loved the first one. The cases are fun and challenging, the presentation quirky and likable, and the gameplay is as sharp as a tack. If you have any objection to buying this game, consider yourself overruled. It's just too good to pass up. CASE CLOSED!
What's Hot: Terrific gameplay involving presenting evidence and finding lies; solid (and funny) presentation.
What's Not: A total of four cases mean this'll be beaten in a matter of hours; US release isn't coming until January.