Review by gothiclolidollz
"I'll face myself"
I finished P4 a few days ago and thought I might as well review it for those who are interested. This review will only briefly touch upon the main aspects of the game without spoiling anything for those who have not finished.
Story - 9/10
Persona 4 begins with our silent protagonist who moves into the small country town of Inaba to stay with his relatives for a year (due to his parent's working overseas). During his stay, he becomes involved with a gruesome murder case revolving around a mysterious show called "the midnight channel". Shortly after, he obtains the ability to call upon his inner self; his persona and can fight against the mysterious entities known as shadows. Together with a few other persona users, they attempt to unravel the case surrounding the foggy town of Inaba and catch the culprit behind the case.
While P4 isn't the first game to integrate the whole "murder mystery" aspect into its plot, it does a far better job than most RPG's in terms of storytelling. While the murder mystery is there to further along the plot, it is hardly the main aspect of the story. Common themes throughout P4's plot include the ability to confront and face one's inner self. Often times, many of the main characters must come to accept a "darker" side of themselves ranging from their selfish desires to their hidden sexuality. These psychological motives and themes are what furthers along the plot rather than the central mystery itself.
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Persona 4 borrows many elements from Persona 3 into its gameplay, however it never seems to feel repetitive or boring despite the similarities. For those who have played P3, you can still expect the unique combination of dungeon crawling and dating sim material interwoven. P4 improves over P3 in a number of ways by having social links directly affect character's performance in battle. For example, by leveling up your teammate's social links, he or she can protect you from fatal attacks which would otherwise cause you a game over.
The dungeon crawling from P3 is back, but this time it is improved upon. No longer is there a huge 200+ floor dungeon but rather a handful of 8-10 floor dungeons. While the design of Tartarus from P3 got a bit repetitive towards the end, the dungeons in P4 are unique and cleverly designed to reflect the subconscious thoughts of the victims imprisoned within the dungeon. From a mundane princess' castle to a flashy strip club, P4 has some of the most innovative dungeon designs to date which keeps the game from feeling repetitive like P3.
The battle system from P3 also returns with the tried and true 1 more system. Basically if you exploit an enemies' weakness or score a critical hit, you are awarded with an additional turn. All-out attacks return in this installment when your party has successfully knocked down all foes. Aside from that, you now have full control over all of your party members. This not only makes it easier to form a strategy, but it also takes away the frustration from your teammates sometimes poor AI.
Before P3, nobody would ever have guessed that rap and Jpop would go together. P4 manages to do the same thing by integrating a number of Jpop themed tunes such as the main battle theme. For those who enjoy Jpop or a retro style of music reminiscent of games from the 90's, Persona 4 will not disappoint. The voice acting is above average for almost the entire cast. Many of the actors were really able to get into character and convey their feelings, adding to the experience. I understand that in the past most dubs are pretty cheesy or terrible, but Persona 4 manages retain the same quality as Persona 3 did with its voice actors.
Overall, if there was one reason to still use your PS2, this is it. Not only is this my pick for PS2 game of the year, but it should also be RPG of the year. With a number of vast improvements over Persona 3, an intriguing psychological based story and a handful of extra Personas, this game should not be missed by any SMT or RPG fan.
meh, 9.5 rounds up to 10 anyways. Might as well give it 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/09
Game Release: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (US, 12/08/08)
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