Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All
As the witness’s voice echoes through the courtroom, only one thing remains clear: your future as the defendant is slowly slipping into oblivion. If there was any chance that the case could be won, it’s definitely not stacked in your favor. The opposition seems to have an unblemished case against you; there are the photos of the crime scene, the evidence recovered, and the witness giving his testimony. There’s just one problem: you know you’re innocent. That witness speaking in front of the court is a liar, and he knows it too. He’s just sitting there with a smug grin on his face, his flawed story condemning you to prison and a possible death sentence. He’s made his story so foolproof that even the judge seems to believe him. Realizing that there’s nothing you can do but accept whatever the court decides, you sit back in the chair, close your eyes, and listen to the witness continue his false testimony…
While you were wrapped up in the direness of your situation, you forgot one crucial thing: your lawyer is Phoenix Wright, and he does not take kindly to liars. As you watch in wonder, the blue-suited man leaps up out of his chair, points a massive index finger at the stunned witness, and proclaims, “This man is lying, and I can prove it!” With a look of sheer awe fixed on your face, you observe Mr. Wright ripping the witness’s testimony to shreds, revealing flaws in the logic, providing information to counter evidence, and utterly destroying any credibility the man might have had. In fact, Phoenix doesn’t stop when the witness is reduced to tears and anguish, but until you’ve been cleared of all charges as well. Satisfied, he sits back down, straightens his stylish red tie, and calmly waits for the case to end.
Oh, if only it were that easy.
Despite his commanding presence in the courtroom, Phoenix Wright is just an average defense attorney with a strong sense of justice and a knack for finding flaws in his opponents’ arguments. It’s been a while since the events of the first installment, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and the young lawyer has now taken control of his law firm after the death of his boss/mentor. Now a fully-fledged lawyer, Phoenix must now take on new cases that will involve old characters like Mystic Maya Fey and Miles Edgeworth, as well as newer faces like Pearl Fey and Prosecutor Franziska von Karma. These cases will involve murder, malpractice, conspiracy, and the kind of stuff that lesser lawyers wouldn’t touch. Armed with nothing more than his logic (and Maya’s psychic abilities), Phoenix ventures back into the courtroom and serve up some justice.
As the cases unfold in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All, you’ll not only get acquainted with the game’s quirky cast of characters, but with the evidence that you’ll have to work with as well. Every item you’ll get, be it a victim’s autopsy report, photo or client profile. Despite their appearances, these items all serve some sort of purpose in defending your client from a guilty verdict. Though most evidence can be pretty straightforward, others will force you to look deeper, observing small details (like victims’ names, relationships between characters, features of the crime scene, etc.) that can make all the difference in your case. Using the stylus, you’ll get to browse among the evidence, review the material, and present your findings to the court. In between hearings, you’ll get to explore various buildings and crime scenes to interview witnesses and observe anything that the police may have missed.
You’d better hope that you’ve got everything you need, too. Once you’re back in the courtroom, you’ll have to face down one of the prosecutor’s many witnesses, each of which have their own stories (real or otherwise) that can sway the judge out of your favor. After hearing the testimony once, you’ll be allowed to cross-examine the witness in an attempt to find some flaw in their story. You’ll be able to press the witnesses just short of badgering them. If you think you’ve found something, you can choose to give an objection and present some evidence. Should you choose correctly, the witness will become increasingly agitated, start stammering, and eventually blow any credibility they might have earned. Justice For All takes things a step further than its predecessor by allowing you to perform a “Psyche-Lock”. Should you think that a witness is keeping a secret, you can use a certain item to reveal the emotional locks in his or her mind. After a few well-made questions and showing some evidence, you can break the lock and get the person to admit what they’ve been hiding. But be warned: if you can’t find any decent evidence or make enough mistakes in your presentation, you’ll be penalized via an onscreen health and eventually lose the case.
It’s not like it’s hard to screw up, though. Following in the footsteps of the previous Phoenix Wright games, Justice For All is dominated by text-based dialogue and drama. Aside from a few sessions of gathering evidence, much of the game will involve you speaking with your clients, witnesses, and anyone else who happens to be involved in the case. Don’t be fooled by the excessive amount of conversation in the game; any given sentence can provide the clue needed to help you win. As you break down a testimony, the witness will begin to sweat, bulge their eyes, tear out hair, and start mocking the court in sheer desperation. The arguments will go back and forth with such ferocity that the judge will have to step in and calm things back down. Once Phoenix figures out how to win the case, his calm demeanor will shift into one of pure, unbridled intensity. Who says text-based games are boring?
When Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney arrived on the DS a year ago, it garnered a fan following unlike anything ever seen for a handheld game. As 2006 draws to a close, Capcom has provided us with the next installment of a wonderful series. Justice For All gives the fans everything they could want; the cases are longer, the testimonies are harder to crack, the witnesses ever so wily, and the prosecutors are more die-hard than anything you’ve faced. The game boasts extensive stories and investigations for all of the cases, new ways to interrogate suspects, plenty of potential evidence, and more witty dialogue than you’d expect from a handheld game. Phoenix Wright is back, and he’s better than ever before.
Nine out of ten