Tried to Not Let Past Games Influence Me
But I couldn't help it. The Phoenix Wright games were and are my favorite DS games. They had great writing, amazing characters and incredibly impressive twists along with incredible dynamics between the characters.
For neophyte lawyers, the game has two modes: investigation and courtroom. In investigation you gather evidence, as the police department seems to be working for ONLY the prosecution, making you lawyer and detective rolled into one, by interviewing witnesses and suspects as well as doing a little bit of searching through static environments. This leads into the courtroom where you'll produce the evidence you've gathered as well as breaking down hostile witnesses using Apollo's mystical ability to see people's "tells," physical indications that they're lying. And don't worry, the game doesn't progress until you've gathered all the evidence and testimony that you can, so there's never a time in court when you're trapped without the right piece of evidence.
Apollo Justice has tremendous potential and nails a few moments, but nothing made my jaw hit the floor and part of that was the characters. Gone are almost all the characters from the previous game, replaced with nearly-there-but-not-quite replacements. The plucky teenaged female helper, the cop who's on again off again helpful and of course, a prosecutor set to bury you. None of these characters, save Apollo himself, really popped for me. It felt like Capcom was trying to distance itself from the previous games but was still using the same basic character molds.
The storylines are the highpoint here, especially the way they weave and interweave between each other throughout most of the cases, but most of the twists are telegraphed a fairly long way off, which can lead to using knowledge you have to accidentally jump forward with presentation of evidence that hasn't yet become relevant. Also, much like in the past games, there is sometimes more than one way to view a certain piece of evidence, but the game only has one single set path so you can be penalized for forward thinking. Still, the game is never punishingly difficult and the ability to save anywhere means that you won't have to replay much if you find yourself taking a few too many stabs in the dark.
Ultimately, I am interested to see where they're taking the series, but the characters didn't grow on me as much as the first games. The story definately makes it worth at the very least a rental, but without forking paths, there's really no replay value beyond reliving the best parts of the story.