Sep 1, 2014

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Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

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Since its first appearance on the Nintendo DS (Gameboy Advance in Japan), the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series has captivated fans from all over. It’s hard not to come to love the titular character and his motley crew. When Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney- Dual Destinies was announced, fans rejoiced though some felt slighted by the fact that this newest entry would be a digital only release. Could this be the only flaw in the game? Or has Capcom given us a title that is sure to cause us to yell “Objection!”?

Those who aren’t familiar with the series will learn that as this is a text heavy title that puts you in the shoes of a defense attorney, or rather the shoes of three defense attorneys, as they investigate and cross examine witnesses to crimes that their client are accused of. Each attorney (Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice, and Athena Cykes) offers an unique skill to aid them in getting to the bottom of each case and proving their clients innocent. As with previous entries, you get to meet some fresh new faces as well as some of the usual suspects. The newest attorney is Athena Cykes, a young and cheerful gal who specializes in analytical psychology while the prosecutor is a convict named Simon Blackquill.

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The game starts out with a bang as you take on the role of Apollo Justice as he attempts to defend a client accused of bombing the courtroom of a trial regarding another client that he and Athena Cykes were representing. With a ‘Not Guilty” verdict, we are taken back in time before the bombings of both the courtroom and space center to set up the storyline. Each case has its own twists and turns as you unravel the truth from the lies in a witness’ testimony. The overall storyline even provides a few unexpected revelations as the final case draws to a head.

The cast of characters, both new and old, really work together. During each of the trials, you get to see just how well the characters interact with each other. I found the friendship and banter between Apollo and Athena to charming and it was obvious how much both look up to Phoenix Wright. The no-nonsense Simon Blackquill strikes fear into the courtroom and he became one of my new favorite characters in the series (though I still think Miles Edgeworth has him beat as best prosecutor). While I liked just about all the new characters, I found some to be a tad annoying and some performances to be over the top. An example is Bobby Fullbright, the detective whose obsession with justice can be overbearing and groan-inducing.

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With the arrival of Athena Cykes, we are given a new courtroom method for sniffing out the discrepancies in the witnesses’ testimonies called the Mood Matrix. Using Widget, Athena is able to discern what moods the witnesses are feeling as they tell what they saw or experienced. Most times, you will be able to figure out just what the unexpected emotion is though during some of the latter cases, they will be harder to figure out. This, alongside Phoenix Wright’s ability to unlock Psyche-Locks and Apollo Justice’s ability to detect any nervous tics a witness has, spices up the gameplay with a neat feature that doesn’t feel out of place. Even with these tricks up your sleeve, Prosecutor Blackquill is quick to unleash his pet and draw his figurative sword to keep you on your toes.

 

Investigating the crime scenes are now more extensive as you can rotate the room to get a better view on any clues that might be hidden otherwise. You can also talk to your partner to get an idea of what to do next and get their thoughts on the current case. There is also a notes tab that gives you a list of things you need to do. This is available in the same tab as the evidence and character profiles. It’s quite handy for whenever you get stuck in an area and can’t figure out who to talk to next.

Dual Destinies is the first in the series to showcase full 3D graphics instead of the 2D style that the previous entries are known for. While not perfect, the character models look impressive when you play the title. It also features animated cutscenes produced by Bones that are fully voiced. The vocal tracks used in Dual Destinies are spot on, with some notable voice actors used on the more essential characters.

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The game is divided into five episodes, each revolving around a single case. Time spent on each will vary depending on how keen your intuition is as well as how many twists and turns the game throws at you. The ability to save your game at just about any point makes it a great title to play in short bursts for those pressed for time while the more hooked fans could likely play through it in just a few settings. Given the genre, there is no need for an online feature but you can purchase the DLC episode(s) if you want a new case to solve. There is also no real need for multiple playthroughs once you’ve beaten the game. While this doesn’t bother me too much, I can’t help but feel like those who would want to sell or trade in the game once beaten will be turned off by the lack of a physical copy.

If you’ve played any of the previous Ace Attorney titles or enjoy things involving lawyers and such, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is worth playing. Despite minor flaws, this entry is successful at continuing to offer the same things that make you love the series while offering something new. Fans of the series will likely be able to justify the price tag and accept the digital-only format. Newcomers to the series will be better off trying the first entry to see if this is appealing to them.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Platform: iOS, 3DS (reviewed)
Genre: Adventure, Visual Novel
Release Date:
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
MSRP: $29.99


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