Friday, April 25, 2008

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations

GENRE: Digital Novel, Mystery, Strategy, Role-Playing
CREDITS: 2007 Capcom Co., Ltd.


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Description (from the Apollo Justice Official Website):
The defining battle for justice is about to begin! Star as a defense attorney, who must prove a seemingly guilty client's innocence no matter how dire the circumstances may seem. The complete story of Phoenix Wright comes together as players explore both the past and the present of the idiosyncratic lawyer. Collect evidence, survey crime scenes, weed through inconsistent testimonies and overcome corrupt agendas to ensure that justice prevails!

Intense! >>> by skysenshi (04.24.2008)
The objectives and rules in Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations have not changed since the second installation. In fact, it plays exactly like Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Justice for All, a digital novel that oddly allows you, a defense lawyer, to investigate crime scenes so you can filch evidence for use against contradictory court testimonies. What really happens in Trials and Tribulations is that you delve into the histories of the people that have made so much of an impact in your career. If you had inadvertently made allies of your former nemeses in the previous Ace Attorney game, you will now need their powers of deduction to solve the most ground-breaking cases you'll ever handle. In short: Trials and Tribulations' force lies in its story.

This introduces a new D.A., the coffee addict Prosecutor Godot. The guy is completely shrouded in mystery and his existence, the way he digs up the past, will make you appreciate each facet. He knows everything about you and will be after your hide from day one. But don't worry, his beef will unravel itself in the end. It won't be an easy ride, though. The cases are more dramatic, profound and personal (to Phoenix Wright, that is). With these, you can only expect deeper character development. Meaning: more complex secrets to unveil, more emotional involvement. You will not only be playing Wright, you will also find yourself in the shoes of other people. As with the first and second Ace Attorney games, your mainstays are Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, bungling detective Dick Gumshoe, the mystics Maya and Pearl Fey, and of course...that special ghost.

While the mechanics didn't budge, the cases will confound you so much that you'd experience an exhilarating improvement in gameplay. The first case alone, which shows how Phoenix Wright and mentor Mia Fey were like five years before Wright became a defense lawyer, was so nerve-wracking that it kept me awake on days when I needed sleep most. The fifth case is the most intense. There was a point when I had already figured out what had transpired during the murder but my mind was flying in so many different directions. I was seeing a myriad of possibilities in all of the testimonies that I had become utterly frustrated with the linear flow of logic. It was like I could see a hole in the witness' sentence A and could connect that to evidence B, C, and eventually D, but the game wanted me to pick on sentence Q and use evidence X, Y and Z on it. Not that I didn't experience this in the preceding Ace Attorney titles, but to encounter the same problem in the fiercest battle of wits can make a player crazy. The challenge in the previous installments were to totally separate the facts from the supernatural, given that Wright is assisted by spirit mediums. This time around, the supernatural is completely intertwined with the facts that you will be locked in quite a trying series of "Objections!" Ironically, that was what I enjoyed so much. I was so engrossed in the heated debates that I didn't even want to finish the game! I felt a little teary-eyed when I knew that I was nearing the conclusion.

Having played other characters, I almost wish they'd come up with a Mia Fey: Ace Attorney game. I want to see how her personal life fared before the tragedy struck. I want to see Miles Edgeworth when his guard is down, Franziska Von Karma without her trusty whip, and Detective Gumshoe get a love life. I suppose this is the reason why they came up with an Ace Attorney manga series, so Phoenix Wright junkies like myself can have more of his goofy brand of criminal justice and his goofier choice of friends. Still, I can't help feeling sad that this is the end of the road for Attorney Phoenix Wright. His torch has been passed on to a new defense lawyer, Apollo Justice. I just know that though I will enjoy playing that one, too, I will surely miss "Feenie." (I'm actually holding off on playing Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, for the simple reason that I want to relish my last memory of Phoenix Wright before I move on.)

Any recommendations? Well, Trials and Tribulations is actually the best in the Phoenix Wright saga. But you'll have to play the first and the second -- in that order -- before touching this because all the loose ends are wrapped up perfectly here.

I don't think I'll ever forget the series. No visual novel has ever gotten me so affected that it found its way into my ring tone folder, my dreams, my writing and my speech. So for those of you who think that dialogue-driven games are a crashing bore...

"Take that!"

RATINGS: Gameplay 9; Battle N.A.; Story 10; Visuals 10; Characters 10; Sounds 10; Replay Value 7

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