Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations
Phoenix Wright is back as defense lawyer in this third part. It’s also the last time Phoenix will be playing the lead which asks for a splashing goodbye.
In total there are five episodes. In the first we go back in time and you get to start working as Mia Fey (at that time still upcoming lawyer) who defends Phoenix in a murder lawsuit. Afterwards Phoenix takes charge again in the present where some old familiars return to play in the incredibly immersive storylines (long time we’ve had some like this). Just when you think it’s over again something pops up that turns the entire case around and another nice thing is that Phoenix doesn’t just get some loose cases but that there’s always some sort of connection between them. Finally all loose ends come together to form a very exciting and a bit dark ending. It’s a strong storyline which is clearly one of the biggest pros of this game.
‘Why change a winning team?’ the people at Capcom must have thought as compared to previous parts hardly anything new has been added. Those that couldn’t get enough of the earlier games probably won’t care as the gaming fun is still the main focus. Each case consists out of two different parts: collecting clues and the actual trial. There’s almost no use what so ever of the specific DS features (not surprising since it’s a GBA port) but you do get to point at something important on a picture now and then.
As with any fictional lawyer, Phoenix has to play detective as well. By questioning witnesses and collecting suspicious objects that the police overlooked, more and more evidence is gathered that later, during trial, might cause a breakthrough in the advantage of the defense.
During investigation however, often only the vague lines of the real issue are visible. Often it comes down to not skipping any corners, especially as the game still works too linear: evidence needs to be put forward at the right time to put pressure on a witness as otherwise it won’t work eventhough you’re on the right track. The witnesses Phoenix encounters during his investigation are equally important to fit the puzzle pieces of a case together but not everyone will willingly tell the truth. When someone’s telling a lie or hides something a number of locks and chains appear to tell you this. To break these psychlocks Phoenix needs to confront them with evidence that counters their testimony.
The main task of the defense attorney is to cross-examin witnesses. To proceed you need to find the contradiction in the testimony and preferably proove this with evidence. Due to the linear nature of the game, however, it can happen that you’re on the right track or have made a correct conclusion but will see it accepted only later in the game. Saving often is the message as each time you put forward evidence that isn’t important at that moment you loose a bit of your life bar. Once that’s completely empty the judge looses his patience and will immediately declare the defendant guilty. Phoenix (and Mia) do think along with the player which makes it more fun than when it looks like you’re doing everything by yourself. This will also result in getting subtle hints that push you in the right direction when necessary.
The dialogues are written intelligently and are often filled with hidden and hilarious (word)jokes which also include the names of the characters (like Luke Atmey, which is a good description of the character). Only too bad that here and there a word is missing or a spell error appears. Luckily this doesn’t happen too often and it’s a nice breath of fresh air to encounter dialogues that for once aren’t monotone and long but actually fun to read.
There are only a couple of new music tracks and a certain number gets repeated often, but still some could easily be used as ringtone for your mobile. The dialogues aren’t spoken, except for the often heard cries like “objection” and “hold it” that you even get to yell yourself in the microphone. This means that there’s a lot of reading to be done but thanks to the strong content of the dialogues this is certainly no problem. The image is sharp enough to be able to see all the details which isn’t unimportant as many crucial parts of evidence could not be found otherwise.
Trails & Tribulations offers again a lot of gaming fun as lawyer but there’s little new compared to the previous parts. Also the linear nature sometimes starts to bother but it has to be said: the dialogues, hidden jokes and the storyline make up for a lot. Also for those that have played the previous titles Trials and Tribulations is certainly worthwhile despite the lack of innovation. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is and remains and excellent series