Persona 4 - Reader Review  

Who Needs to Shoot Themselves in the Face to be Awesome?
by Shawn Denney

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60-80 Hours
+ Great Battle System
+ Superb Voice Acting
+ Intriguing Story
- One Disappointing Ending
- Some changes from Persona 3 weren’t for the better
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   Revelations: Persona was an amazingly underwhelming experience. Persona 2: Tsumi (Innocent Sin) and Persona 2: Batsu (Eternal Punishment) were both pleasant surprises with their dark takes on the Role Playing Genre. Then came Persona 3. Oh, how it blew my mind. Dark, stylized, engaging, and so much more. It was easily the best surprise of 2007. Now comes its follow-up, Persona 4. I personally didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Persona 3, but it came pretty damn close!

   The battle system remains almost identical to Persona 3’s battle system, and very similar to all Shin Megami Tensei game’s battles systems in general. It utilizes a Strong/Weakness system that is necessary to use if you want to succeed. When an enemy is hit with their weakness (or your characters for that matter) then they fall down and are unable to act that turn. In Persona 3, when this happened, it took a full turn to stand up. Now, any enemy or character can stand up and act in the same turn. It’s not a big difference, but it did take out a layer of planning involved in the battle system. Also, there is an auto battle feature, for when grinding, or encountering weak enemies. More games should really utilize this as it is a glorious feature.

   Two specific things that have changed since Persona 3 are how a character summons their persona (a physical representation of a person’s inner self), and the health/sickness system. I am being completely honest when I say that both of them are sorely missed. How a character summoned a persona in Persona 3 was by shooting themselves in the face with an gun shaped object called an evoker. For Persona 4, a character smacks a card with the persona’s picture on it. Its portrayed well, but doesn’t carry the same impact. The health/sickness system actually gave your characters a set amount of battles they could participate in before getting sick. Once sick, the character would leave and not be available for use until they healed. This may sound like a bad idea, but it meant that grinding (which I stand firmly against) became almost impossible. For persona 4, they scrapped this idea entirely.

Be impressed by my style! Be impressed by my style!

   Persona 4 uses a game play feature called Social Links. This is when you are outside of a dungeon, or in this case the TV world, you can talk and interact with the people of the town you live in. The more you talk to them, the deeper your connection with them becomes, which strengthens your abilities in battle. Plus, each conversation reveals more of a story specific to each character. It’s intriguing, fun, and some of the stories are really cool.

   The sound in Persona 4 is awesome. From the very catchy beat of the opening song to the “unlike any battle tune EVER used”, the sound is nice, fresh, and very modern. The voice work throughout the game is great. The highlight voice definitely goes to Yosuke, who can pull off lines like “Ugh, who throws away an entire bicycle?” with genuine emotion. Freaking awesome!

   The story for Persona 4 is about as original as an idea could ever get. Somehow, people are being murdered in a remote town and then having there corpses hung upside down from things like antenna’s and telephone poles. So what do you do about it? Jump into a television of course! What else would you do? This murder mystery setting is told remarkably well, and keeps the suspense, or rather, audience guessing what is going on for most of the game. The only complaint that I really have about the story is that one of the endings I found to just not “fit” with the rest of the game. The other endings get the job done nicely though.

Every high school detective loves to fish Every high school detective loves to fish

   The visual department of Persona 4 is almost entirely positive. It reeks of style, has a bright color palette and superbly drawn character portraits. The character movements are great, and weather effects are nicely presented. The game uses a random dungeon generator (which I usually frown upon)and still managed to create engaging, detailed environments. Detail wise, it could stand toe-to-toe with most of the fully pre-rendered dungeons found on the Ps2. However, it’s not all sunshine and daisy’s. The game is clearly a Ps2 game. They is in no way meant to detract from the game, it’s just meant to show that it’s not really pushing the system visually.

   I had a hard time rating the difficulty of Persona 4. It will be directly related to how well you utilize the strength/weakness system, and how well you understand the Persona fusion system. The game does a very nice job of describing these features, and from there, it’s all up to you. The reason I had such a hard time rating this is that I do not grind. As such, I go from start to finish on a one way path. This means no wandering and no backtracking. This led me into some insanely difficult fights. However, I’m pretty sure that even a little bit of leveling would have made the game much easier. The game took me 56 hours of saved time to beat. That does not include all the times I got my ass kicked and got a game over. It is definitely a beast of a game that will take over 60 hours to beat. My friend put in over 100 hours, and still had things left to do. It is a massive game, that presents good incentive for replay value too. A new game plus feature will carry over your persona compendium (a log book of all the persona’s you used) and the vast amount of social links will take most people more than one play though to see them all.

   Persona 4 is a great game. No, that just doesn’t even cut it. It is better than a great game. It is one that should be in your collection. It is a game, that would be worth buying a Playstation 2 system just so you can experience it. All its pieces come together to create one of the finest offerings the RPG genre has ever seen.

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