I would like to begin this review by describing this game with possibly one of the worst analogies ever.
You know when you have a girlfriend and you part ways for the summer but as you correspond you build each other up in your minds and then when you see each other at the beginning of the new school year, she's totally not as attractive as you remember? (Keep in mind, this was before MySpace and widely-available webcams and camera phones and all that noise. I'm talkin' back in the day....like 1999-2000)
Yeah, Phoenix Wright 2 is that less attractive girlfriend. She hasn't changed, but everything that used to slightly get on your nerves now makes you want to contemplate murder. Also, her stories are suddenly less interesting, her jokes less funny, and her entire demeanor more annoying.
Did that explanation seem tedious and irritating? Then I've just given you a taste of Phoenix Wright 2.
Something just doesn't work this time around. Some of the novelty has worn off, but the faults are clearer and the characters are wearing thin. The game almost seems to hate Pheonix this time around as it gives him a lame case of amenisa as a means of tutorial and then proceeds to make him out as nothing more than a hack who presses witnesses not because it's his job, but because he doesn't have a clue.
The flaws of the first game become even more apparent this time around. The first game's biggest weakness was the Game Over and being forced to struggle your way back through all the dialogue you've already read. And you'll probably do this more times with this game due to the change from five-strikes-and-you're-out to a life-meter which bends to the designers' whim. They want to raise the tension? Getting the next answer wrong will cost you your entire life bar!
This pain-in-the-ass system carries on outside the courtroom with the new psych-lock system. Want to get the big secret and get a half-lifebar's worth of health? Break the psych-locks. Thankfully, you can't get a game over but if your health drops to zero, the Psychic Lock Breaking ends and you're now at zero health. Your health, which, also stays the same throughout the entire chapter.
The sad thing is that these are both easy fixes. Why not give life for correct answers and deduct it for wrong ones? Why not always allow for fast forward like the game does when you're re-reading testitmony? Granted, you bypass the re-reading by doing a suspend-save, but then you're taken back to the title screen. Have fun doing that every time you're risking an objection, especially if you have a low life bar.
And re-reading the dialogue won't give you any new insights because this is where the game's second biggest flaw become apparent: the logic leaps. Sometimes it's just impossible to know what the game wants from you. Othertimes, the game is painfullly ignorant.
For example, in your first case, you're solving the murder of a man who died from a broken neck. In the sand, he's apparently scribbled his girlfriend's name, "Maggey". Now, anyone that has any basic knowledge of science knows that you won't be scribbling just about anything with a broken neck. So how do you object? With the autopsy report. But you'd be wrong. You actually need to object with the victim's profile because the man with the broken neck, spelled her name as "Maggey" and not as "Maggie" as it's actually spelled.
While this explanation does become important seeing as the killer heard Maggie's name but didn't know the strange spelling, the designers shouldn't have failed Human Anatomy 101: People With Broken Necks Don't Write Shit.
The biggest positive this game has is its charm, but even that wears a little thin at time. The game is clever and weaves in some fun pop culture jokes, but when you have to keep questioning a character you'd rather punch into the Ether, like Moe the Clown or the second appearances of Lotta Hart and Wendy Oldbag, then trudging through the cases becomes even more difficult. Thankfully, the charm of characters like Pearl, Detective Gumshoe, and a few others always provide a bit of relief.
Although both Phoenix Wright games are ports of GBA games that were originally only available in Japan, Phoenix Wright 2 feels lazier and it needs to be stronger now that the novelty of the first game has passed. With only four cases and no new case to take advantage of the DS' touch and microphone capabilities beyond shouting "Objection!" and searching rooms.
Fans of the should pick this up to get their Phoenix fix but will be left wanting the next game to truly take advantage of the DS' capabilities and fix the aspects of the game that make it more...
Wait for it.
TRIAL AND ERROR.
I just got aroused.