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on 18 April 2007
It's kind of hard to rate a game like Phoenix Wright: Justice for all. The reason for that is, like my title implies, it's VERY similar to the first one. So much for originality...

But is that necessarily a bad thing? The reason I bought Phoenix Wright 2 is, precisely, because I loved the first one and I wanted some more. So if you played and enjoyed the first game of the series, there is no doubt you'll also appreciate this second episode.

Like before, your aim throughout the game is to prove your client not guilty, by investigating and searching for clues but also, in the court room, by presenting decisive evidence to unveil some of the witnesses' false testimonies. The gameplay hasn't changed a bit, so you still have to move from place to place by selecting the appropriate location on the touch screen, to examine items to gather information, and to talk to people by selecting different options with your stylus.

The game's trademark humour is of course back, together with some characters from the first game, and to be honest this is my favourite aspect of the game. While newcomers will be perfectly able to play and understand the game without having played the first one, older fans will be delighted to see familiar faces.

So yeah, like I said above, a lot of this game is just more of the same as before.

The main addition to the gameplay is the "Psyche Lock" system. Sometimes, when investigating, you'll have to talk to people. And sometimes, when talking to people, you'll realise that they are hiding something from you. Your aim will then be to break their "locks", using evidence, so that they open up to you and tell you their secret, which is always crucial to the case you are defending.

While it does sound fun at first, I found the Psyche Locks to be just another way to make the game longer... Because in practice, it is just this: you get to use evidence, not only in the court room, but also while investigating. Yay. Mind you, it's not that bad either. EXCEPT... that while you are in the court room, you KNOW you have all the evidence you can possibly have (the game doesn't let you proceed to the court room if you don't), so all you have to do is figure out how to use it. With the Psyche Locks though, you may, or may not, have the evidence you need. And there is no way you can tell! So you'll have to be much more careful and to think more about your next move, since sometimes the best solution is to give up, investigate some more, and only then come back to the Psyche Lock.

Which leads me to the next addition to the gameplay: the life bar! Each wrong piece of evidence you present, both in court and for Psyche Locks, will cost you a certain amount of life. So you can't just try at random lots of different pieces of evidence when unlocking a Psyche Lock, because each wrong one costs you life. Ok, you can't die from unsuccessfully having a go at a Psyche Lock, but seeing how your life bar is NOT replenished when your enter court (you have the same life bar for each episode), you'll want to think carefully about wasting it away.

To make up for that though, you get 50% of your life bar back for each Psyche Lock you unlock.

So, in the end... I loved this game, but be warned, it's pretty much exactly the same as the first game. As a stand-alone game, I would give it 5 stars, however as a sequel, because of its lack of originality and its similarity to the previous game, it doesn't really deserve much more than 3. Which is why I gave it 4 stars.
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on 17 January 2007
Phoenix Wright returns to the DS after a year's absence. This time round, he's no longer a rookie defense attorney. Instead, having achieved some seemingly impossible victories in the courtroom last time round, he's now quite a celebrity. Which is why, when a policewoman is charged with murdering his fiancé, she turns to Wright for help. Unfortunately, just before the trial, he was attacked by an unknown assailant. He wakes up with amnesia, and is then pushed straight into court to fight the case. An impossible case again, perhaps? Not exactly, because by examining every piece of evidence, pressing every statement from the witnesses, and pinpointing every contradiction that are present, the ace attorney has return to yet another famous victory.

The above basically sums up Phoenix Wright's premise. Justice for All, which begins soon after the end of last season's sleeper hit, employs primarily the same gameplay features from its predecessor. The game is still divided into two parts - investigation and trial. During investigation, you will still go from place to place, talk to NPCs, and gather clues. During trial, you will still press witnesses, present evidence and, more often than not, bluff your way through. Nothing really changes here when it comes to the basic nature of the gameplay.

Capcom does attempt to make things a little more varied though with the new, but rather tedious "Psyche-Lock" system. This time round, secrets that are guarded by NPCs (even your allies) are typified by on-screen locks. These prevent important conversations from happening. You will need to gather enough information before you can unlock these Psyche-Locks. A wrong deduction will expectedly lead to loss in health, even during the investigation stages. This is a change from the previous game, in which you could only get "hurt" in court. The system is not exactly bad, since it does make the game more challenging. But it also slows the game down, and adds more backtracking efforts to a game that is already filled with various backtracking requirements.

To complement the Psyche-Lock system, your health in Justice for All is also changed from the "Five-Exclamation Marks" bar to a more conventional health bar - something that you usually see in most action adventure games. Now, this is definitely a good move, even though the exclamation marks present more uniqueness. The good thing with this new health bar is that damage taken is varied. Some mistakes will hit you minimally; while others may totally wipe out your health (beware!). On top of that, you can also recover loss health by successfully unlocking a Psyche-Lock. Ah, now you know why I said that it complements the Psyche-Lock.

The fun in Phoenix Wright is not restricted to the gameplay, of course. Interactions with quirky characters are part and parcel of the investigation and court proceedings. In this instalment, you will take on clowns, magicians, and even a radio transceiver. Many of these encounters provide great comic relief. Especially the one with the clown, but I will leave that to you to find out. The game also features returning casts from the previous game - those interested in the Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth sub-plot will be happy to know that he has a major role to play in the intense finale of the game.

On the topic of intensity, you may also want to know that Justice for All has a much more compelling story than its predecessor. Even though it doesn't have a bonus case like the last game, the cases are generally longer here, which more or less compensate for the absence. Murderers are also smarter, more ruthless, and will continue to frustrate you through well-constructed lies. These generate a great sense of competitive tension - if you're the emotional type, you may find yourself totally immersed into the game's universe. The final case, in particular, will test your resilience as well as your conscience. The only gripe is that some parts of the game are a little too draggy. It's almost as if these moments are lengthened just for the sake of lengthening the game.

In conclusion, Justice for All is another great entry in the Phoenix Wright series. It doesn't rock too much of a steady boat, and prefers to focus on its strength of delivering a deep and compelling murder mystery. Fans of the adventure genre would better gear themselves up for another round of sleepless nights as they engage to solve these murders. As for those who haven't played the previous game, I'd suggest picking that up first to fully appreciate the story in this one.
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on 28 April 2008
The first Phoenix Wright was a tour de force and one of the most entertaining games available not just on the DS but on any platform. Justice For All is the follow-up, which ultimately delivers more of the same but with a few changes. With a game as good as the original Phoenix, more of the same thing would usually be considered a great thing but ultimately Justice For All fails to progress the series in the areas needing improvement and makes some unwelcome changes in other areas.

The weakest aspect of the original game was in terms of gameplay. While a brilliant text adventure, the gameplay was hindered by the linear nature of the storyline and the often warped logic behind what piece of evidence needs to be presented at what time. The final bonus case of the original showcased some of the fun in store with the new DS features, which are absent here. Instead, to bolster the gameplay in the investigation phases of the game, Phoenix is given a Magatama with which he can break people's psyche-locks and uncover additional information. It's a welcome addition to the game but not the massive advancement you might have wanted or indeed might have needed.

Of course, the game really lives and dies on its storyline and that's where I ran into problems with the game. For much of the game Edgeworth is absent and replaced by the slightly annoying Franziska von Karma. The main storyline shifts gears, opting for a more thematic arc than the mystery of the original. While it ultimately pays off, the build up is awkward and contrived, with the Phoenix and Edgeworth relationship in a position at odds with the end of the first game.

The highlight is the final case, which showcases some genuinely interesting ideas. The second case is equally interesting but both are let down by being overburdened by returning characters and being a little too similar to cases from the first game. Most disappointing is the first case, which is short and forgettable. Compared to the first game with its bonus case, you can't help but feel short changed. So it's ultimately a disappointment but does it matter? It's still Phoenix and it's essential for the rest of the series.
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on 30 September 2007
I nagged, whined and pleaded till I got this game for my birthday.

After playing (and loving) the first game, I wasn't disappointed this time around. The sequel follows the same style as the original. Many of the old characters make a return in this game, along with the introduction of new people, witnesses and suspects.

As before, you're still playing as Phoenix, defending your clients who are usually overwhelmingly guilty (it seems on the surface) until you start digging away and uncover the flaws in the witness testimonies. As well as the cross-examinations, in this game you also get psyche-locks whilst you're investigating the crime scenes. To crack these you need to present evidence as with the cross-examinations, to break down their defences and find out their deep dark secrets.

My only niggle in the game is sometimes the evidence you need to present does not automatically seem obvious. You also can sometimes see a contradiction without being able to present relevant evidence. But that's a very small niggle for me and didn't spoil my enjoyment.

In this game there are three episodes, rather than five as in the original. That was okay, since there are several parts to each episode and the game play is nice and lengthy. There is still a lot of dialogue, so if you're a die-hard shoot `em/race `em type, you probably wouldn't enjoy this. The game is very text driven and definitely not an action game. But those are the games I love, and there just aren't enough of them. Here's hoping there's a third instalment soon!

If you liked the first game, you should like this too. If you hated the first, you're unlikely to won over by the sequel.
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on 21 October 2007
If you're not sure what this game is, I'll start by clarifying: it is, in effect, an old-school graphical adventure game. If you're too young to remember those, it basically means your character goes to different locations, you pick stuff up, you converse with people, and you try to interact objects in your inventory with other things (in this case, just people).

That doesn't really do the game justice, though. This really is a thinking man's game, and the vast majority of the time you can use reason to work out what to do next, rather than the random experimentation (and let's not forget mouse-sweeping) characteristic of the genre. The story seems more involving for the emphasis on deduction.

The game is split into four cases, where the pattern is generally that you spend a while investigating and gathering evidence (in the process working out about half of what happened) and then spend a while in court, unable to go anywhere and trapped in one conversation in which you can "die" (your client gets found guilty) if you make too many wrong guesses, though in some cases you do get to go out and do more investigation. In contrast to the "health bar" that can only diminish in court, while investigating you can't "die" in that sense (though you can reach zero "life"), and can recover "life" by breaking what the game calls "psyche locks", which are in effect just the normal get-information-out-of-people routine, only harder (and requiring more objects as evidence). By making a wrong guess with a psyche lock, you lose "life" just as you would in court, but when you finally get someone to reveal their secret, 50% life gets added, so starting the court part with very low chances happens rarely.

This is a Japanese game (as quickly becomes clear if it wasn't already), so you do have to deal with the occasional translation inaccuracy (it's about 99% correct, and always clear) and rather odd "localisation" which involves the characters declaring that they are in the US, despite the presence of a clearly Japanese village in the game, and a rather bizarre conversation in which a character says they imported a British car (obviously in Japan this was an American car) at considerable expense because it's basically big, loud, fast, and shiny.

Being basically linear, there is a definite end to this game, and it probably will come sooner than you'd like (though that last case is rock hard), but you're still talking about several hours, normally. Sometimes while playing you do hit the traditional adventure game flaw of "this should work", where there is an object with a property sufficient to do a task, but you actually have to use something else - in this case, you'd object (and lose life) while thinking, "the testimony DOES contradict the evidence!". With a limited number of guesses that you can make, this does make the game frustrating at times, and for that I'm popping a star off its rating.

Overall, it's very good fun (I suppose dependant on you being into mysteries, crime shows, or the like), with a few noticeable flaws holding it back. Just try to resist googling for a walkthrough, because it'll ruin the fun!
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on 10 December 2007
This game is the most fantastic game anyone could wish for. It is brilliant for any ages and with its twists and turns, it makes the game really addictive. I am 13 years old, and i think it is fantastic. This is a brilliant game for anyone of any age for any occasion.
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on 11 March 2007
The first thing you need to know about Phoenix Wright: Justice For All is that, although it's a sequel (think of it as Phoenix Wright 2), it works perfectly well as a standalone game. This can be slightly annoying for veterans of the first title as the first case (and some of the second) feel like they're retreading old ground and you just want to get stuck into the new material without being tutored in how to play the game. However, it also means that a beginner can just as well start with this game than the previous one.

The new cases are excellent, with cameos from many of the people introduced in the original game, and offering just the same level of fascination in environments and characters. There is a new "psyche-lock" system for getting information from people too, where you read their mind and answer questions to get new information that they may not have been willing to offer up otherwise.

I found the cases in this version a bit too long (they are longer than the first four cases in the original Phoenix Wright) and there was too much needless chatting and cross examination for my liking. Also, the new psyche-lock system is a gimmick that really doesn't build on the original ideas - you're still presenting evidence to people and getting a response, it's just being done in a slightly fancier fashion.

As with the previous Phoenix Wright game, the collecting and presenting of evidence pays off satisfyingly when you prove clients innocent and expose the corruption and ignorance of prosecutors (in this game, young, whip-carrying prosecutor Franziska Von Karma). Although winning cases and uncovering the truth is still satisfying, I felt the level of satisfaction was dulled by the flabbiness of the plots.

Phoenix Wright 2 is still a clever, witty and enjoyable game but it could have been much leaner, like the first game. If you've never played a Phoenix Wright title then get the original first to see if you like the world of Phoenix Wright. If you enjoyed the original then this is more of the same and shouldn't disappoint too much, despite not being quite as good and not offering another DS-special case 5 like the original had. Certainly the script is as sharp as ever.
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on 16 August 2008
This has been the first Phoenix Wright game I played, but I can guarantee it won't be the last. Even though 'Justice For All' is technically a sequel to the first Ace Attorney game, it still stands it's ground perfectly by itself.

The basic essence of this game is that is more of a "visual novel" than your typical gameboy title. As with all Phoenix Wright games, 'Justice for All' is no exception when it comes to being founded on a lot of text. However, dull as that may sound, the scripting is ingeniously done and woven in to often wacky, deep characters (something which has always been a rarity with games) and twisting, engrossing storylines.

In 'Justice For All', you'll play as Phoenix Wright, a defence lawyer who has a knack of bumping into innocent clients who've had the blame for a murder stuck onto them. Through court and investigation around the scenes of the crimes, it's your job to defend your client and save the day.

There are some nifty new features present in 'Justice For All', the main of which is the "Psyche-Lock". This adds a new dimension to questionning lying individuals while investigating, and provides a handy means to recharge lost health in between the first and second parts of the trial.

As with all great things, 'Justice For All' is not without its faults. Simple spelling mistakes like "were" being spelt "where" and "gleam" being put in the place of "glean". Also, there are frustrating times when you have no earthly idea of what piece of evidence to submit (I recommend having a pad of paper and pen at the ready so you can remember which evidence didn't work).

Overall however, a truly unique and fantastic game. Fully recommended to all, even if you don't aspire to yell out "Objection!" in public! If you don't finish this game hungering for more, then I suggest you book an appointment with your local doctor as soon as possible to find out what's wrong with you!
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on 19 October 2007
first of all, this is a great game, and i would recommend it to most ds users, as long as you are patient, and are not just into fast action type games.

there is a LOT of looking around, and speaking to people.
the frustrating part is a bit of both! you cannot get past certain areas without speaking to certain people, or finding certain things. and il admit now that i used a walkthrough just a few times, and even after reading what to do, i knew that without "cheating" i never would have found the evidence i needed!

the next annoying part, for me at least, was in court, only sometimes though. same as above, you cannot get past certain parts without giving some evidence, and as im not the sharpest knife in the drawer, this was sometimes challenging, as the most obscure piece of evidence is neede to prove something.(cannot think of any examples right now, but trust me, they are there!)

on the up sides though, its a very addicting game, and very entertaining, i was quite happy just reading the script like a story, without actually having to give evidence etc, its just like a very good cartoon on the tv!

looks very nice indeed, and the characters are great, some you will love, like little pearls :) and some you will hate like von karma (you foolishly foolish fool)

overall a fantastic game, sad that it ended really! and im very much looking forward to the next for more frustrating and yet very entertaining gaming.
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on 12 October 2009
I have just finished this wonderful game and felt the need to comment on it...This is the second in the series and the sequel to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

The music and sound effectives have changed slightly from the original (for better or worse is a personal matter), whilst the simple animation style has stayed pretty much the same (Why try to fix something that isn't broken, right?)

The meat of this game is its story. The episodes in the game are fantastic stories that work in the form of an interactive crime thriller. Okay, so it isn't exactly gritty but it can get pretty dark in places (when dealing with murders and suicides, that kind of becomes common place). It handles these events with a colourful cast of both loveable and vile characters and a scenario that enthralls the players (maybe "reader" would be more appropriate)in a suprisingly atmospheric way. The story is supported by some decent (and often witty) dialogue.

My only warning to you is this: The game is an INTERACTIVE NOVEL. If you have little patience and are not a fan of reading, then you won't enjoy this game.

I can't stress enough that if you enjoy an intelligent, story driven game, you really need to experience this (well, the first one would probably be a better place to start). To liken it to anything else would just do it an injustice.

I am now off to purchase and play the third in the series, so happy sleuthing.
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