Game Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All

I’m still kicking myself over the fact that I didn’t get into these games when they first came out in North America, but I’ve been slowly making up for it by collecting them all. It took me awhile to pick up the second game in the series, but now it’s here and I’ve beaten it, so all is well.

Once again, you step into the shoes of Phoenix Wright, a defense attorney with a few cases under his belt, and once again, there are crime scenes to investigate, quirky characters to interview, and lies to uncover in court. If you’ve played the first game or you’ve read my review of it, you’ll know what to expect from the second.

The one addition to gameplay is the Psyche-Lock system. Many of the characters you will speak to during your investigations have secrets that they literally keep under lock and key, and the Psyche-Lock system allows you to “unlock” those secrets to give you new pieces of information to aid you in the trial segments–provided you have the evidence to do so. I heard that a common complaint about the first game was that the investigation scenes went on too long, and this system does break up the more “wordy” portions with a bit of gameplay.

Other than that, as I said, it’s more of the same. During the trial portions of the game, you still either press a witness for more information or object to a statement with evidence. The trial segments do throw a couple curve balls your way, such as one witness who can’t be pressed where the game penalizes you for pressing them too many times. A life bar now replaces the exclamation points from the first game, and if it depletes, well, it never depleted all the way for me, but my guess is it’s game over. Unlocking Psyche-Locks refills Phoenix’s life bar, which is very helpful if you screwed up a lot during one of the trial segments. As usual, finding contradictions in testimony requires examining evidence in the Court Record and thinking outside the box. The game does drop hints if you get stuck, but since I haven’t mastered this skill, like, at all, I found myself reaching for a walkthrough more often than not. You’ll see plenty of old faces from the last game, new faces include Prosecutor Franziska von Karma (you’ll recognize that name from the first game) a German (at least in the dub) prosecutor who is very whip-happy and fond of *ahem* administering “punishment” to anyone who acts like a foolish fool who foolishly dreams of foolish things and Pearl Fey, Maya’s young cousin and a powerful spirit medium in her own right.

My criticisms of this game are basically the same as they were for the last game. It’s still short and very linear (although the last case has a couple endings depending on a certain choice you make) but that’s pretty much par for the course for this sort of visual novel/adventure-y experience. The series appears to be very fond of flashing graphics which are possible epilepsy triggers. For potentially triggering content, a suicide and attempted suicide are the backbone of one case (there’s a shot of the victim from behind, but it’s clear that she hung herself), and the prosecution makes a really insensitive remark about one of the witnesses at one point in order to draw out information (they’re called out on it). There’s also one character at a clinic (one of the patients) who disguises himself as the director in order to ogle the female patients which is….yeeeeeeeah……I’m not touching that one.

Basically if you liked the first game, the second is more of the same with an additional gameplay element to keep things interesting.

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