Review by furygods
"One of the best games I ever played but still have some faults."
Persona 4 Golden was essentially Persona 4, that was released earlier for the PS2, with extra content. But keep in mind, this is not a reason to undermine the game just because of that. This review sees that the game is judged as if it is a entirely new release, to be fair for players playing the game for the first time without any prior experience to the original Persona 4. In this review you will see that I would compare this game to Persona 3, which is the predecessor to this game, often.
Although one should never truly judge a game solely on its graphics, the graphics department for Persona 4 Golden is indeed top notch. Replicating the entire town of Yaso-Inaba with some minor redesigning, you would not be disappointed in terms of graphics. The game keeps PS2 quality, which when looked at via the Playstation Vita screen looks more than competent.
The music in Persona 4 Golden, unlike that of Persona 3 FES (The most complete version of Persona 3), is quite enjoyabe and less "looped" in some of its lyrics as I found in Persona 3's music. From the calm sounds of Yaso-Inaba to the vocals in battle, this game has a nice presentation in terms of music.
Although some of the lines in battle are a bit odd, the lines for the story was done very professionally, even better then the voice acting for Persona 3. The grunts within some of the conversations throughout the game was a added plus.
The main bulk of any RPG should be the story, and Persona 4 Golden has it. The story for the game is engaging and easily serves as a good mystery that intrigues the mind and keeps the player guessing. Extra content exclusive to Golden is even more of a reason for seasoned veterans to pick this up. The game presents you with a number of choices throughout the game that allows you to choose your own path on the story and each and every character, and their respective social links provide a story of their own. Unlike Persona 3, where there would be several periods where the story would seemingly not advance, Persona 4 Golden constantly has the player in the story, whether a side story or the main story, the player is always progressing in the story. Truly, the story is indeed worth noting for a newcomer and I advise you to not spoil yourself if possible regarding the story.
Also unlike Persona 3, the story of the game has a constant amount of humor in it, unlike the entirely dark approach in Persona 3. The scenes in this game is outrageous in its humor while maintaining the drama and dark parts maintaining a good blend.
The very nature of a turn based battle system in a RPG could only hold so much depth. The highest pinnacle of a RPG that utilizes such a turn based battle system, in my opinion, is that it be not too complicated, has a good degree of depth, and fast.
1) What I meant by "not to complicated," was that there could only be a limited amount of complexity that could be attributed with a turn based battle system that Persona 4 Golden had. The game presents a easy to understand table of weaknesses that allows a newcomer to easily get familiar with the battle system.
2) What I meant by "has a good degree of depth," was that although the battle system of the game was easy to get used to, it doesn't mean that it was entirely "streamlined" for a casual audience. By "streamlined," I meant that the gameplay was not "dumbed" down to the point where all you had to do was to press one action and the game played itself. No, we are not looking forward for a game that plays itself for you, or otherwise what's the point? Besides a game that played itself would had gotten boring rather quickly. Persona 4 Golden provides the player with a variety of choices in battle from analyzing the enemy to dishing out the pain, and allowing you to control what your allies do.
3) What I meant by "fast," was a that a turn based battle system that moves slow, either by extra long animation or simply the amount of thought needed for every action, would had been quite "boring" quickly. The animation for all of the abilities within this game is short, which would be a fault in which I would explain later, but it keeps things fast which is good for gameplay. Although there was depth, we are not playing a game of high level chess, so a enormous amount of thought was not expected for this game. The game keeps a good amount of depth while keeping it fast.
Persona 4 Golden truly had fulfilled the above three conditions to what I believe to be a "perfect" approach to its turn based battle system. The loading time transitioning from exploring to battle is practically non-existent. The ability for you to pick your fights adds to the amount of choice that the game presents you with, rather than forcing you to fight such as that of a random encounter system.
The battle system is not the only thing that this game has. The game provides you with a large amount of time between segments for you to explore the town of Yaso-Inaba, build up what the game calls "social links" with various NPCs within the game. Not to mention the game also has a system where you could perfect what I would call the player's "external stats" such as that of his academics, courage, and whatnot. You may spend your time in certain areas to increase your "external stats" so that you may become closer to your friends and improve your battle capabilities. The free time that the game grants you with allows the player to have the choice on whether to do something and presents various amounts of goals for the player rather than just grinding.
The "Persona" system that this game employed was much like that of Persona 3's but greatly enhanced. Presenting with a enormous amount of Personas one could create, it provides the player another choice to create more powerful and distinct personas to help him in his journey. Each Persona has a certain weakness and strength and as you built your social links with the characters in this game, you will uncover even greater Personas. The game also gives the player the opportunity to check the "Fusion Forecast," which is new to Persona 4, that allows you to check when would be the best opportunity to create additional Personas, which is essentially another choice for the player.
Persona 4 Golden removes the annoying concept of "randoming" in the "Shuffle Time" segment of the game, which I greatly dislike in Persona 3. Instead of that, Persona 4 Golden presents the player yet another choice every time a "Shuffle Time" segment occurs, in which you could choose what you want to obtain and how you want to obtain it.
The game also removes another annoying concept where in Persona 3, your allies and yourself could get "tired" and be less effective in battle which more or less forced you to quit early to rest. By removing that, the game presents the player with the choice on whether or not you want to stop exploring a "dungeon."
The game constantly gives the player the power of the choice, and it is determined by the player in what he/she wants to do, which is important in RPGs.
Art Style [5/5]
The art style was either a hit or a miss for players but in my opinion the characters in this game was wonderfully drawn, everything was much more colorful instead of the pale colors of Persona 3. In my opinion, some of the characters in Persona 3 looked like zombies or just really pale like Makoto from School Days. Persona 4 Golden's art style felt more alive and updated.
[What makes this almost perfect]
So what makes this almost perfect? The fact is that the corridors/hallways within the game's "dungeons" are bland and reeks of "copy and paste." As you adventure onward, you will find that the "dungeons" hallways look exactly the same as in the previous floor and in the next floor. Aside from the few "event" rooms, the interior of every dungeon looks the same in the sense that the 5th floor design looks exactly like the 1st floor design but with a different layout of course. This could be why the game's loading times is so short.
However be assured that only the "dungeons" in this game is full of "copy and paste," as Yaso-Inaba and the interiors of buildings are well detailed.
Not only that but the game provides only the bare minimum of extra content in terms of optional "dungeon" exploring. Each story dungeon provides 1 optional dungeon that is the same as the story dungeon but with a optional boss in the end. Counting all of the optional dungeons that are variants of their story dungeon counterparts as well as the whopping 1 new optional dungeon exclusive to Golden, is definitely noticeable, as sometimes the player would desire some "extra" challenge to test their newly created Personas.
However, one could spend as much as 50 hours of game time with just those dungeons and the extra activities outside of battle that it should not be too much of a issue. But for a game that gives so many opportunities for choices to the player, it is indeed quite lacking in the part of "optional dungeons" for the player.
Fast (a.k.a. short) animations for abilities are good for gameplay but bad if you are expecting some cool effects. Almost every ability is quite short and underwhelming, with the exception of some of the top tier abilities which are more impressive in its effects but still short. Most of the enemies you encounter, with the exception of Story Bosses, are just a alternate color of a existing enemy. There are some variation here and there, with a few new enemies later in the game, most noticeable in the very latter parts of the game, but you would be mostly facing enemies in a different color. This could make the grinding process, which is unneeded on normal mode, more boring.
Judging Persona 4 Golden as a game on it's own, one would expect more designs for the enemies you would be facing but this game could easily be one of the best RPGs for the Playstation Vita. Rarely do one see a company putting so much content into one game without cutting out content or doing a lazy job in favor of DLC. But Atlus really outdid themselves with presenting a RPG of this scale, while keeping it fun and the story humorous yet mysterious. I definitely recommend, for a newcomer player to RPGs, to try this gem out.
And if you tried Persona 3 and was bored by it (Like I was), rest assured Persona 4 Golden's worlds more fun than that game; and if you did play this game and would like to continue on the story of Persona 4, then you could try Persona 4: Arena, which was the canon (in terms of the story) sequel to Persona 4. However be warned, Persona 4: Arena is a fighting game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/04/13
Game Release: Persona 4 Golden (US, 11/20/12)
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