Review by Flacco_Fan

"Persona 3 with a few tweaks...and a lackluster story."

Persona 3 was such a fantastic game (one of my all time favorites), I felt that I had to get Persona 4. Persona 4 came out on December 9 so instead of buying Christmas presents for others I got selfish and bought Persona 4 for myself the day it came out. I had some problems getting the disc to work so I wasn't actually able to play the game until the tenth of December. Unfortunately, when it was all over, I was very disappointed.

Graphics:

This is probably the least important thing. There are no amazing CGI scenes like in FF12. There are some anime scenes but significantly less than of Persona 3. The graphics are not great but they are good enough to get the job done. Typically, a character's portrait takes up around 40% of the screen when the talk and you just see the leftovers. Some things get annoying after a while though. The characters only have a few motions they can do and they always stand the same way. That fact that the main character's stance is just like Persona 3's Junpei or Kenji or that Uncle Doji's stance is just like Aki's kind of shows how much Atlus really cares about graphics. Especially since this is a PS2 game made in the year 2008.

Sound:

The voice acting of all the characters was fantastic for the most part. One character in particular was a little shaky earlier on, but she defiantly got the hang of things later on. So much so, that I could not ever imagine that character with a different voice. If you are a fan of the Tales series, you will probably be able to recognize a few of the voice actors.

The music in Persona 4 is alright. The only songs that are exceptional are the normal battle theme and the boss battle theme. The battle theme was so fantastic that I downloaded on my PSP and I would listen to it before the game came out. I listened to it so much that I got bored of it by the time I actually got my hands on the game (but that is a good thing).

The rest of the songs are nothing special and they get really repetitive after awhile. The “deep emotional” music used during some social link levels is used often and it sounds absolutely awful.

Story:

So this is how it starts out. Because of his parent's job, the main character moves to a small town called Inaba to live with his uncle and younger cousin. Of course there is some trouble and a murder happens. Know one knows why. And then all too quickly another similar murder happens and this time it is personal with one of the friends you made. Certain events happen and you and your friends decide to find the culprit because the police will never be able to do it.

So it starts out pretty cool. And it takes many twist and turns a along the way. Which lead me to believe it would the whole thing would end up being just fantastic. However, that was not the case. The story completely loses toward the end. The culprit turns out to be very disappointing. So the whole case turns out to be silly and stupid. If you choose to go for the true ending, you learn the final boss's motives in just a span of 10 minutes. Great rpgs do not end like that.

So, the bottom line here is, its not how you start, its how you finish. I can compare this to the online ranked matches I play in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. You need to win 3 rounds so you can be awarded the victory. I can win the first two rounds with perfects even, but If I don't “seal the deal” by finding a way to win one more round, the previous round victories, never mattered. Persona 4 had a great beginning and middle in my opinion (even better than Persona 3's) but Persona 4 never won that third round (the ending), the one that counts the most. Therefore, I have negative feelings about the whole story.

The characters are great, but not great enough to redeem the Persona 4's awful collapse. After you obtain every party member, whenever there is a scene with all the characters together, only about two of them ever say anything important. Character development is pretty much out of the picture. The scenes you see when you “recruit” them is pretty much the best you are going to get. You can start social links with your party members but not much development takes place with that.

Gameplay:

About the only improvement from Persona 3's gameplay is the ability to control all the party members this time. The game is much easier than persona 3 so this feature was not really needed. You never have to fight bosses as difficult as those in Persona 3's Tarturus. If you have a high enough social link with members in your party, they will bail you out from a fatal hit and also be able to endure a fatal hit themselves. Add in some of the broken accessories the game has and you have a game that is almost too easy. Even on Expert.

You don't go to the same dungeon all the time as you did in Persona 3. You get to go into different dungeons but in reality they are all the same the thing just with a different atmosphere to it. So it is pretty much just running up Tarturus all over again. The dungeon crawling has no depth too it what so ever. Atlus really needs to throw a few gimmicks and puzzles in there to spice things up a bit.

The pacing problems that existed in Persona 3 still exist in Persona 4. Basically, you spend time in a dungeon for and hour or two and beat it. Then you spend the next hour or so leveling up your social links. After that you view some scenes that advance the story and the process repeats itself over and over and again.

The social links in this game are very boring, making “social link time” a real drag. Many social links constantly repeat the same concepts over and over again but they just say it in different ways. Others never get their point across very well at all. I don't know if it is bad writing, poor translation, or both.

Replay Value:

Persona 4 is pretty much a one time deal. Their really is no reason to replay the game unless you want to max out all your social links or complete your Pokedex…er compendium. Since you only get to fight at certain times, it will get real boring because you will be reading the same stuff while you are not fighting.

Persona 4 isn't a bad game. It is overrated but it is defiantly not your typical overrated rpg. If you can somehow endure the catastrophe at the end of the story you will probably have fond memories of the game once you are done with it. I'd recommend that you buy it. It should go up in value over time and it is a great example of how a cult hit can have its flaws overlooked.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/26/09

Game Release: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (US, 12/08/08)


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