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Phoenix Wright review

Discussion in 'General Video Game Discussion' started by Doctor Oak, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. Doctor Oak

    Staff Member Overlord

    I originally wrote this as part of an application for the UK Mag, NGamer but since I was told at the weekend that I wont be getting the job, I figured I may as well post this for others to see now that I can without being possibly thought of as a plageurist in my application.

    Obviously, it's kinda irrelevant now that the game has been out for yonks AND I've already discussed it to death with loads of people, but I hate writing something and not sharing it, so here ya go:

    Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney DS Review

    Objection Overruled!

    If you had told us when the DS was announced that one of the best games on the system would be a text-a-thon lawyer sim, we'd have laughed in your face - and probably quite rightly so. For one thing, even until the moment you place Phoenix Wright into the DS you will still have those niggling doubts over "How can pretending to be a LAWYER be fun?".

    Little would you realise that the instant you turn the game on, you'll be hooked so deeply you'll call in sick for work, bunk off school, ignore all your mates and in extreme cases, maybe even forget to eat or sleep. For Phoenix Wright isn't just a Lawyer sim - it's not even 'just a game'. It's probably the best book you'll read and the best CSI clone you'll watch until the sequel comes to the DS sometime in 2007.

    The game itself starts out slowly, after a brief cut-scene depicting the murder of a young model and her attacker with his overly dramatic monologue, you are introduced to the characters, Phoenix - a spiky haired Lawyer in training, Mia Fey - his voluptuous mentor, The increasingly senile Judge and Larry Buttz - Phoenix's best friend and also the defendant accused of murder whom you must prove innocent in a battle of wits against the barely competent Payne - the Prosecution.

    The gameplay in the courtroom is fairly simple. The witnesses make their statements and you pick them apart for lies you can prove either through something they've previously said or by presenting evidence. To do this, all you have to do is tap Objection, or alternatively hold the X button and scream it into the mic on the DS yourself. The harder you push in exposing the lies in a witness's statement, the more they make to cover themselves and the more their story falls apart. Keep pushing until they crack and reveal the truth and the entire case comes unravelling before your eyes, your client is proved innocent and you win.

    The other mode of play is investigating. As trials only last 3 days in Phoenix's world thanks to a convenient recently passed law, if you can't prove your client is innocent on the first day of trial you'll need to investigate the matter further yourself by visiting the crime scene, and later, any other areas with people you can talk to useful to the case.

    In this mode, one of the real charms of Phoenix Wright gets to shine - the characters. As you meet up with a large cast of unique personalities in tracking down the truth behind the murder in question you'll also find yourself falling in love with them. From the wacky - and not all together good at his job - Detective Gumshoe to a L33t speaking TV show director.

    By asking around all these characters you can pick up vital clues, evidence and information about the case, as well as using the DS features to physically investigate the image of the area presented to you for further information - rather like a simple point-and-click adventure.

    Of course, no good book or cop show would be worth it's salt without a good plot to backup it's characters - and Phoenix Wright's has so many twists and turns in it's overall arc as well as in each individual chapter that it'll keep you gripped from start to finish. Even in the start of case two, Phoenix's world is turned upside down by the death of Mia Fey and the arrival of her ‘Psychic in training' sister, who becomes Phoenix's partner for the rest of the original game. And by case four, Phoenix's rival and leading Prosecution attorney, Miles Edgeworth is left with only Phoenix himself to turn to when he is accused of murder and faces the rather terrifying and ruthless Von Karma - a man who doesn't consider falsifying evidence as a problem in getting his Guilty verdict. It's simply impossible not to be immediately enthralled by the excellent story and characterisation.

    The DS features themselves aren't really put to that taxing a use until the fifth and final chapter- a bonus addition for the DS remake. Fully animated murder scenes, 3D investigation of evidence and fingerprint testing all add together to make the final case seem like a genuinely fresh inclusion - though you wont be blamed for wishing they'd somehow managed to crowbar all these features in to the rest of the game as well.

    The final reason why you will instantly fall in love with Phoenix Wright is the music. When you're watching the courtroom and reading line after line of text -even if it is superbly written - it can seem a bit dull on face value. However, throw in the excellent music - which builds up and builds up the closer you get to breaking the witness into telling the truth - and you're completely glued to the screens. Even if you need to use headphones to do it, you should always be playing this game with the full soundtrack blasting alongside it, otherwise it's like watching a musical with the sound off.

    On the whole though, you can sit through and read this review and at the end of it still not have the faintest idea just how a lawyer game could possibly be fun. Like a lot of the best DS games, Phoenix Wright simply is not our standard definition of gaming - and that's partly what makes it so great. To fully understand it, you must play it. And once you've played it, you'll love it, you'll get hooked and like the rest of us will be hounding Capcom for the release of the sequel. And that's quite right too.
    #1 Doctor Oak, Sep 12, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014

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