Review by Guile176
"What Is Reality?"
When the PS1 was in its early days, there was 1 RPG in particular which stood out like none other. No, it wasn't Squaresoft's amazing Final Fantasy 7. Nope, that stand out RPG was none other then Persona from Atlus. Persona was an RPG like none other. It brought me to a surreal world that I had never seen the likes of before. While most RPGs were set in medieval style landscapes with knights and dragons, Persona had more of an anime like setting in a real world environment. Words cannot properly describe the world that Persona delivered to the gamer. Instead, it more or less had to be play to be truly experienced. Needless to say, I was quite happy when I heard news of a sequel to one of the coolest and unique RPGs ever.
Persona 2 for the PS1, was originally a 2 part series in Japan. It consisted of Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. Sadly, we only got the second half of the series here in the US. Bummer, yes. But hey, look at it this way, we should be fortunate we at least got 1 half of the game here.
Persona 2 tells the story of a young journalist in Japan called Maya Amano. May is assigned to report on a rumored Joker curse which has plagued the city with a string of murders. Shortly after she begins her investigation at the Seven Sisters High School, she begins to realize that there is more to these Joker murders then originally thought. This will change her life forever and make her question her past.
That's about all im going to give on the storyline of the game since I don't want to ruin it for anyone. The storyline in Persona 2 is a huge part of the game. Also, when playing through, make sure to pay close attention to everything. After a few hours into the game, things really start to pick up and can get quite confusing if you have a low attention span. I don't recommend spending too much time away from this game. If you do, you may find yourself forgetting important elements of the story.
There's also a pretty good amount of swearing in the game. This game isn't really geared towards children, so, if you happen to have small children around, I wouldn't really recommend playing it with them around.
Character designed in Persona 2, like the first game, is totally original, and quite amazing. Characters in the game not only look unique, but the characters all have very cool believable personalities as well. My favorite character has to be Maya's friend Ulala. This red haired, foul mouthed boxing chick is just too cool. I especially liked some of her arguments with the computer hacking Boufu, who is also a pretty cool but shady character.
Unlike most RPG's, the characters in Persona 2 don't actually use magic. Instead the characters here use what is called Persona's. Persona's is like a persons inner-self. Characters in the game can call upon these Persona's during battle to assist them by attacking, healing or using various other support techniques. Characters can also combine certain Persona attacks as well to create some rather devastating combos.
Also, if you don't like the Persona your character is using, you can create a new one. Persona are created using special tarot cards which you can obtain through encounters with enemies. The more tarot card it takes to summon a new Persona, the more powerful it will be. Also, some Persona's cannot be summoned right away. You see, to summon a Persona, you need to have your characters at the proper level. So, if your not allowed to summon a certain Persona you want, then go get into some fights until you level your characters up to a high enough level.
The battle system in Persona 2 is also very cool. Battles are totally random and are turn based. You can do all the typical RPG things during battles such as standard attacks, use items, defend or use a Persona which basically acts as magic.
One cool thing that you can do in battle that you cant in other RPGs is talk to your enemies. Upon entering combat, you can choose to contact most enemies. After you choose to contact an enemy, you then can choose up to 3 characters that you wish to use to talk. Be careful though, different enemies wont always respond the same way. For example, while one enemy may be happy to talk to Maya, another may be scared of her or angered by her. Three of the same reactions by any enemy will have different results. Three red reactions may cause the enemy to go ballistic on you while three yellow will gain you some tarot cards. Also, if the enemy likes you enough and gives you 3 green reactions, they may want to make a contract with you. When you make a contract, the next time you see that enemy again and get 3 green reactions, it will either give you an item, heal you or give you advice. It all sounds a little confusing, but it shouldn't take you too long to get used to things.
The games overhead map and dungeon exploration is quite abit different from the first Persona. Rather then the cool 3D Phantasy Star like map and dungeons from the first game, the action in these scenes now take place in overhead views. While the town map looks pretty generic, the dungeons look really good with their new viewpoint. Nothing really too much as far as puzzles go either. This can either be a good or bad thing depending on how you like your RPGs. Still, there's quite abit of game to be found here. There's alot of little extras that are totally optional you can go after. It all depends on just how much time you care to invest in things.
The Rumors Are True!
What do you mean rumors? I mean the games ultra cool rumor system. You see, in Persona 2, if you have the cash you can have rumors spread. Unlike rumors in the real world, the rumors in Persona 2 actually come true. For example, if you spread a rumor about a fast old hag at the music shop, that rumor will become reality. Pretty cool huh?
Graphics in Persona 2 are very well done. They have a slightly dark tone to them which fits the game very well. Everything's also pretty detailed as well. The games 3D backgrounds all look and run very nice, while the 2D characters animate really well. Nothing really spectacular on the spell effects, but they all look pretty good with some nice transparent effects to them.
My only real complaint about the graphics is the ugly looking overhead city map. Why in the world did they replace the cool 3D map of the first game for this?
The sound in the game was quite amazing. The music is sort of a light technoish rock type beat that fits the game perfectly. The sound effects are also pretty sharp and very well done. My favorite part about the sound has to be the voice acting. Not only is it very well acted, but it just sounds damn cool. Just get into a fight and see. The characters shout out random attack quotes and various other grunts and groans. It just sounds too cool.
I had really no complaints at all with the control in the game. Everything is pretty responsive and easy to learn. Its just all a matter of learning the games play system. Other then that, there's nothing really else to say about the control.
Overall, I would highly recommend Persona 2 to anyone that's into RPGs and owns a PS1. This is simply one of the coolest RPGs I have ever played. So, if your looking for an RPG that's rather unique, then you need to own this game. Its also not really that common either, so its best to try and grab it now while you can. Its well worth the $40-$50 you'll probably spend on it and should give you between 50-60 hours of play time. Great work on the translation Atlus, I can't wait for a sequel.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/02, Updated 11/15/02
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