Review: Apollo Justice Ace Attorney

System: Nintendo DS
Score: 3/5 3 (OK)

Yet again, this is another game that I played and enjoyed but I'm giving a 3 to anyway.

Unlike Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations where there was literally no new game play elements, this game contains some new things. Unfortunately, it's either underutilized (a couple one-off forensic minigames, some of which are different from the ones in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney) or downright obnoxious.

The forensic minigames are, sadly, mostly pointless. They're a fun little distraction for the most part, and are basically impossible to fail, but they really offer nothing over simply being handed the evidence.

That leaves the other new element, the Perceive system, which is Apollo Justice's special ability. With it, at certain key points during trials, you can spot people's "tells." A "tell" is simply a little animation that plays on a zoomed-in image of the witness. It's your job to spot the "tell" using Perceive mode.

Sadly finding the tells is made far more obnoxious than it need be. The "zoomed in" eye animation distracts from what you're looking for, and the need to pan all around the body to find the actual tell is made more difficult than it need be. Since the event is timed (the witness keeps on talking) you may need to rewatch the same lines over and over until you locate the small animated tell.

On the plus side, there are no "red herring" animations. The only other aspect of the character that will be animated is their face, but since that constantly animates you can tell if something is a tell or "normal" simply by seeing if it only occurs during part of the statement.

There's never any real doubt over whether you've found the tell - but searching is a pain and is, frankly, boring as too much time is spent waiting for the witness to get to the part with the tell.

On the other hand, once you've found it, the ability to shout "Gotcha!" at the DS is a lot of fun. Just like all the other Ace Attorney games, yelling at the DS is entirely optional, but it's fun if you can.

I'll keep my rant about the annoying "penalty meter" short, but unfortunately that's back too. Essentially it punishes you for failing to understand what the writers were thinking. You might know the right answer, but you have to figure out how the writers want you to express. Guess wrong five times (or fewer, in some cases), and you get to re-read through several minutes of text. It's not fun, it's annoying, and it's completely unnecessary.

Beyond that, the only thing that's left are the cases.

The first three cases aren't quite as interesting compared to the cases in the previous games. The final case, on the other hand, makes up for it.

Sadly this game has very little connection with the previous games. A total of seven characters return, and some of them return in effectively a "walk-on" role. If you were hoping to run into some of your favorite characters from the original games, forget it: they appear to have vanished from Phoenix's life.

Overall this game feels like the weakest in the series. It provides some hope that future games might polish the rough spots, but this game is only for fans of the first three games.

Topics: