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14 March 2011 @ 12:11 pm
Persona 4: Review (PS2)  
Persona 4 is a JRPG made by Atlus games. There I reviewed it! Just kidding. Its hard to really describe Persona 4 without giving away much of the plot, but I am going to do my best here. Persona 4 is the 4th (really?!) in a series of games created by Atlus games. It is a JRPG, but its nothing like the ones you have most likely heard about (The Final Fantasy series, for example)

In Persona 4, you take on the role of a nameless highschool student from the city, who is coming to the town of Inaba to live with your uncle Dojima and cousin Nanako. You are of course a silent protaginist, and you get to name yourself. Once you arrive, you get setup, and start going to school

Thats right, part of the gameplay is going to school. Let me finish explaining the premise before you go running off.

After a few days of school you make a couple of friends (Chie, Yosuke, and Yukiko) and one day on the way home you come across the scene of a bizarre murder. Your uncle happens to be a detective and is working the case. The murder scene is freaky, as the person in question is a TV Personality, and she is found hanging from a Telephone pole, nearly naked, and without any visable wounds.

Now, during this time at School you hear a rumor about a "Midnight Channel", which apparently is something that occurs when you watch your TV alone, at Midnight, when its raining. If you do this, you will see your one true love. You decide to try it one night, and you in fact do see someone appear. They appear to be writhing in agony, but you cannot tell who it is.

You reach out to them, and your hand goes through your TV as if it were water. You of course tell your friends and they think you are crazy.

Two days later, another victim is found, this time hanging from a TV Antenna. It is the body of the girl who found the first victim. From there, things spiral out of control as you and your friends try to solve this mystery and discover who is behind these killings, and the myster of the Midnight Channel.

This game plays out during the course of several "months". The game is laid out where you do things during days, starting from your arrival on April 11th and basically ending on December 23rd. You do skip ahead after that to March, but only if you get the True Ending.

Each day, you have several activities you can do. During every day but Sunday you attend school in the morning (and may or may not have an actual lesson), then you have the Afternoon to do something, followed by an Evening. During the Afternoon, Evening, and Sunday, you can hang out with your friends, do part time jobs, or visit the Midnight Channels World to progress the story.

Now you may think that hanging out with your friends and working would be pointless or boring, but in fact that was my favorite part of the game. By hanging out you build up Social Links with your friends. These links are directly connected to the various Persona types you can create. They are based on Tarot cards, so you have different links based on things like Strength, Fortune, Chariot, Justice, ect. As the Social Link ranks up, your friends learn more about themselves, and in the case of your party members, become more effective in combat. Also, the rank of a Social Link has a direct effect on Persona you create, granting the Persona Experience which gives it increased levels.

Sounds complicated? It is a bit. You see, the game puts a time limit on things. When a story event happens, you only get 15 days to complete the matching dungeon in the Midnight Channel. If you do not its Game Over. So you have to find a balance of training in the Midnight Channel, building your social links, and doing Part Time Jobs (which have social links attached to them). You also have to build up your social stats (Courage, Knowledge, Diligence, Understanding, and Expression) in order to progress things with your social inks.

To put it bluntly, I found it very difficult to max EVERY social link in one playthrough. I got a great deal of em (all my party members save Kanji) but not all of em.

Combat is very interesting as well. You have 4 party members, and unlike Person 3 you can actually control all 4 if you choose. Each person has a single "Persona" which grants them abilities, and also dictates their combat abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. The main character however can eventually have up to 12 Persona stored with them, and is able to switch out to a different one each turn in combat if he so chooses. This allows for tactical planning, as Elemental Weaknesses play a huge role in combat. If you hit an enemies weakness, you get a ONE MORE action, and get another turn, and the enemy is knocked down. If your social links are high enough this can also trigger a special attack from a party member, but you lose your free turn. All party members can trigger ONE MORE...but so can enemies. And for the most part, the enemies are smart enough to hit party members with things they are weak against if they can. If you manage to knock down all the enemies before they have had a chance to stang, you can do an All Out Attack, inflicting massive physical damage. The combat is very rewarding in its gameplay, and encourages thinking instead of just mashing attack.

Now, no game is without flaws (or if there is one, I have yet to play it) and Persona 4 is no different.

My main complaints are the music, and the lack of explorable areas.

You see, you spend ALL your time in Inaba, and the Midnight Channel. However, you dont actually walk around Inaba, but instead walk around specific areas. I can even list them off:

1. School
2. Shopping District
3. Junes
4. River (Flood Plain)
5. Dojima Household

Each of those areas have a few other areas inside of them. The school has for example roughly 6 maps, the Shopping district and River 2 maps, Junes is 1, and your house is 1. Beyond the Dungeons in the Midnight Channel (There are roughly 8) that brings up the total explorable areas to 20. Thats it. And for most of those the music never changes. Let me tell you something. After 67 hours of gameplay, I have had my fill of the never changing music. Its nice, at first, but after a while it made me want to kill someone.

The battle music is the biggest offender here. Its too...happy! You are supposed to be fighting horrible demonic shadow creatures, and you get peppy and cheerful music while doing it. Its jarring. And lets not forget your "Support" character, whose sole job is to cheer you on or encourage you. Yes, there is a character who never fights, but instead just says things "Your soooo cool Senpai!" and "Oh no! Chie got knocked down" nearly every round. I ended up playing the last 10 hours of the game muted, since I was so sick and tired of it. My wife was so happy when I finally beat the game as well, because she would never have to hear the music again.

Overall, Persona 4 is a solid JRPG blended with a Simulator. Its not for everyone though, as it is very japanese in its presentation. If you want to try something different, with a deep engaging combat and a very engrossing and character driven story, then I would seriously suggest giving Persona 4 a try. Just...be mindful of the music. Oh and Teddie. You will want to kill him.