Should I Buy? – Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice

As you may know, Ace Attorney is a series of DS crime-solving games played from the perspectives of lawyers, the first of which I already reviewed.

This game loves to make Justice puns

Apollo Justice is the fourth in the series, featuring the new eponymous protagonist in what was meant to be a fresh start. Unfortunately, it was decreed by The Powers That Be that Phoenix must be present. This doesn’t really work. He’s quite different here from his previous appearances, and has a tendency to hijack the show whenever he appears meaning Apollo doesn’t get those same moments of emotional and dramatic payoff he needs.

That being said, this game is still a great play. The basics are all the same, except for Apollo’s special ability to detect lies through non-verbal cues. It’s a shame this isn’t used more, because it makes a nice change when you get to do this in court.

Apollo Justice is sticking to formula though. You’ve got the sensible, rookie attorney aided by the wacky young female sidekick (here played by Phoenix’s adoptive daughter Trucy), the loveable yet not entirely competent Detective (with fan favourite Ema Skye filling the role), the rival prosecutor (now a devil may care rockstar) and the senile Judge. Played by the same Judge.

The mentor, the sidekick, the hero, the detective, the rival and the mystery

With this game wiping the slate almost completely clean of the series recurring characters, this means Apollo gets to collect his own assortment of weirdos. I don’t really feel they’re as memorable as the ones from the Phoenix games though. Still, Ema is brilliant in her role and Prosecutor Klavier Gavin is a refreshing change of pace from the previous hostile rivals.

The overarching plot of the game skips out the two middle cases and honestly, you can kind of tell that Phoenix was shoehorned in. When the finale comes, there’s definitely an emotional climax there but I can’t really decide if it’s meant to be for Phoenix or Apollo and as such, fails to land like the others did.

At least this game looks better than the others. It’s the first Ace Attorney to be made for the DS, and it looks sharper than the three previous games. The music and localisation both hold the series ridiculously high standard, but fail to produce any singularly spectacular moments Excpet maybe the track Guilty Love.

This one's just here because it looks pretty

There’s also a few forensics-style investigations sections the game always tries whenever Ema’s around, but because they’re not integrated more consistently they’re more distractions than true gameplay elements. It’s a real shame they don’t seem to be able to figure out how to use them, because the bonus case from the first game did them really well.

Overall, this game’s good and certainly better than a lot of the puzzle solving games that’ve been spat up over the past few years but doesn’t manage to have the same gravitas and quality as the first, third or fifth Ace Attorney games.

Price: £15 (CEX)


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