Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

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Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

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Courtroom Drama: Now With 500% More Panty-Related Content
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the fourth game in Capcom’s quirky series about defense attorneys, which started with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. It takes place about seven years after the events of Phoenix Wright: Trials & Tribulations and puts newcomer Apollo Justice in the starring role. His first case? Prove the innocence of Phoenix Wright. Yes, that Phoenix Wright. Not only is he being accused of murder, but the player is told early on that he was disbarred due to presenting forged evidence to the court. In fact, Phoenix’s life between that fateful event and the last case of Apollo Justice is weaved through all the cases in the game.

Phoenix has definitely seen better days.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. The gameplay remains mostly unchanged from previous iterations, but the Psyche-Locks from Justice for All and Trials & Tribulations have been replaced by the Perceive System. Basically, it allows Apollo to sense when a witness is lying about something in their testimony. When the player activates the system, the bottom screen of the DS will turn into a magnified, super-slow-motion view of the witness giving whatever portion of their testimony the player activated the system on. The idea is to find the witness’ tic that only appears during a specific phrase in their testimony. By finding this tic, Apollo is able to extrapolate why the witness is lying or not telling the whole truth about that specific phrase. It’s a very interesting mechanic that doesn’t feel nearly as out-of-place as the Psyche-Locks did; and even though a couple of the tics can prove difficult to expose, there’s no penalty for guessing incorrectly. This is a definite improvement, and I’m glad that all of Apollo’s games will probably have it. There are also short portions of the game where Apollo engages in a little forensic science (thanks to the help of returning character Emma Skye), such as dusting for fingerprints and making molds of footprints. These sections make great use of the DS's special features and are an entertaining diversion from the typical walk-talk-pick stuff up formula of the "adventure" portions of the game.

Clearly, Trucy is already well-acquainted with how defense attorneys in Ace Attorney-land find their evidence.
Also improved are the characters. Though I still prefer Phoenix to Apollo, all of the new characters are better or on par with their Phoenix Wright-era counterparts in terms of design and likability. Trucy Wright, Apollo’s partner, and Klavier Gavin, the new prosecuting attorney, are particularly memorable. Trucy is essentially Maya Fey, except with much fewer bouts of dialogue that cause me to smack my forehead; and Klavier’s little quirks in his dialogue (random German words) and actions (really well-animated air-guitar solos) are charming. Although I was initially disappointed that Phoenix, Edgeworth, and Gumshoe were taking backseat to the new cast, I’m more than happy with the replacements.

This is Klavier. Dare I say he's even more awesome than Edgeworth?
Finally, there is the story. Almost all of the cases in the Ace Attorney series have been constructed well, Apollo Justice takes the construction to a new level. Though there are only four cases in this game (the other games have had five), all of the first three cases are important for understanding and solving the final case. This tight integration of all the plotlines makes tying up each loose end feel very satisfying, since doing so usually leads directly to a revelation about another loose end. I like this way of telling the story and hope that the sequels will emulate it.

Apollo Justice: Carrying on the fine tradition of questionable hair styles.
I’m quite impressed with Apollo Justice. Not only have the new characters more than made up for the disappointment of the cast change, but the game manages to noticeably improve the Ace Attorney formula. Both Phoenix Wright fans and adventure game fans should definitely consider buying this game. It’s the best one in the series.

And no, I'm not going to explain the title of this review. It'll be more fun if you play the game and find out for yourself.
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