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Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney


I'm not sure why Capcom thought retiring Phoenix Wright's character was a good idea, but they seem to have replaced the objection belting attorney with a near carbon copy called Apollo Justice. Apollo is very much like the Phoenix character from the first title, but with a dash of Mia thrown in. He's a fledgling attorney that's just getting his start in the world of trial law.

The story opens seven years after the conclusion of Trials and Tribulations. Phoenix has been stripped of his attorney badge and spent the last seven years in an alternative line of work. Apollo's first murder case involves the murder of a professional poker player and it's up to Apollo to find the truth of the matter, despite the innocence or guilt of the defendant. With the help of Phoenix, Apollo stumbles through the first case and the player is slowly introduced to the new elements of the series.

The structure of investigation and the ensuing courtroom drama essentially remained unchanged from the Phoenix Wright titles. Every action involves a tremendous amount of talking between the principal characters as well as determining where a suspect's story falls apart. I will say the pacing has been improved from the previous titles with the exception of case resolution. That seems to drag on far too long, especially when the guilty party is obvious.

Apollo Justice stands apart from the previous games in the area of forensic science and evidence investigation. For instance, shifting through the courtroom evidence is vastly more interactive and entertaining. Objects can now be rotated on the X & Y axis to search for clues as well as zooming in the view. Once a clue is spotted, the player can tap on the area and check out the problem. It's a much needed inclusion to the system and it increasingly involves the player with finding flaws in testimony. Additionally, forensic tools are at out disposal when investigating out in the field. Just imagine Sega's Condemned except without all the homicidal bums, creepy atmosphere and lifeless mannequins.

Apollo also has a method of determining when a person giving testimony is lying. The Perceive system is an improved modification on psyche-locks. Essentially Apollo can spot a person's tells when they are speaking to him. Anything from a brush of the hand across the face to a nervous tic and Apollo's sixth sense kicks into high gear. It's much more straightforward than the psyche-lock system and keeps the game moving along at a steady pace.

Identical to the other Phoenix Wright titles, there is no multiplayer mode included with the title. It's purely a single player experience and likely impossible to expand on the title with any form of substantial downloadable content

Graphics & Audio

The visual design for the Phoenix Wright series has always been influenced by eastern anime art and Apollo Justice is no exception. The character design is nearly identical to Phoenix Wright, especially those ridiculous hairstyles. The color scheme is still very vibrant and the stills offer the semblance of movement with the staggered animation style. The number of cut scenes has been reduced, but the game doesn't suffer because of that fact. The text is very easy to read and touch screen works accurately with all the environmental stills. While certain sections of the musical score show signs of reuse, the tracks are catchy and work well with the instigative nature of the gameplay. Identical to the other titles, there are no major voiceovers recorded besides the shouts in the courtroom.

Conclusion

Apollo Justice delivers an evolved version of the Phoenix Wright titles, but the overall experience has been shortened dramatically. There are only four cases to run through and each case doesn't take more than two to three hours at best. It's almost as if Capcom is using a shorter release window between titles to maximize their profit at the expense of the game length.

Regardless of the duration, the immersive story and witty writing is definitely worth the entry fee. Those who are well versed in the Phoenix Wright saga will pick up on references to past games and shouldn't hesitate to launch into Apollo's opening act. It's certainly not necessary to have played the previous games, but helps understand some of the humor. For anyone hungry for a new DS title to test their deductive skills, Apollo Justice is a safe bet.