Review by Twisted Silence
"A challenging, haunting RPG for the mature gamer"
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is a refreshing wake-up call for the RPG community. Anything but a cliche, this game tactfully bears the legacy of the popular Japanese RPG series known as Megami Tensei, or ''MegaTen'' for short. A chilling story combined with a unique battle system results in an RPG that you will never, ever forget. Eternal Punishment is actually the sequel to Innocent Sin, which was not released in the US. But don't let that stop you from playing the game; the suspense is incredibly thrilling if you don't know some of the plot details from the first one.
Gamers were given their first taste of the MegaTen series in the mid-90's with the release of Revelations: Persona (known as Megami Ibunroku Persona in Japan). Many considered the plot ''lame'' or ''boring'', and it damaged Atlus's reputation within the mainstream gaming community for being both ''different'' and ''boring'', and also within the otaku game community for butchering the plot; because of their efforts to Americanize and diversify their video games, they disappointed many hardcore gamers with name changes (such as changing Hidehiko to Brad, Nanjou to Nate, etc.) and left most MegaTen fans feeling disappointed.
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment gives fans a cut-and-dry translation, this time. No name-changes, storyline censorship, or any of those kinds of plot-killers. I must stress that this game is for the experienced, mature gamer, as all the names are Japanese and can be hard to remember at times. Most immature gamers that I've met have made comments like ''everyone in this game has the same name.''
The story begins with Maya Amano, a reporter for the teen magazine ''Coolest''. She has been suffering bouts of deja vu since she met a high-school student in the train station, whom she refers to as ''Deja Vu Boy'' because he seems terribly familiar to her. Assigned to investigate the story of the bag-wearing serial killer known only as ''The Joker'' - a man who kills on request when people dial their own number into their cell phone. Soon afterwards, the plot escalates uncontrollably into a battle of epic proportions between good and evil, leaving the player with a sense of awe at this game's complexity.
Based on Carl Jung's psychodynamic theories of psychology, Persona 2 features several elements of Jungian philosophy, including the persona (a mask or facade that we portray ourselves to be), the Collective Unconscious, and even the mythical Philemon, who appeared in a dream to Jung. Basically, each persona is classified into an arcanum of tarot cards (LOVERS, DEATH, TOWER, etc.) and usually represents a figure from mythology. A user of a persona summons them in battle to cast a spell, and then they sink back into the sea of consciousness from whence they came. They can do this as often as you please... until they run out of SP, which is the Persona equivalent of MP. This often brings up comparisons to Pokemon from immature gamers; however, personas do not stay out for the entire battle. The summoner can perform physical attacks as well as bring forth their persona. Though weak at first (they're average humans, after all), the characters' strength does increase throughout the game.
Cold, calculating, chilling. If you bother to complete the game before you write a review, you realize that an incredible amount of planning went into this game... and you will be begging for more.
The battle system takes some getting used to, but its strong points outnumber its flaws. Basically, you set each characters' attacks, and the course of the battle runs itself. To change a character's attack, you need only press Circle to temporarily stop the movement of the battle. Or, if you want added power, you can cast a fusion spell by combining the attacks of your characters' personae. It's not your father's battle system; a unique break from the ATB gauge of the Final Fantasy games indeed.
Word! These graphics are awesome, but are the subject of bashing by immature gamers because they're not as ''realistic'' as those of the Final Fantasy series. The fact is, this is done in the style of an anime, or Japanese animation. I love the style of the character portraits; the character design is one of the best that I've seen, ever. The concept of the graphics is unique; you'd have to play it to understand.
Replay Value: 8/10
This is where it gets iffy. Your first game will take you anywhere from fifty hours to NINETY to complete this game. When you see that the Restart option does not let you keep items and levels (only Analyze data and Tarot cards), you might freak out like I did; after all, games like Chrono Trigger let you stay as the level 99 powerhouse that you were. You might think, ''I'm not spending another eighty hours on this game!'' But you'll whip through the game surprisingly quick the second time around, and believe me, it'll well worth your while. Just when you think it's over... BAM, you can access the EX Dungeon!
I promise, you will be tapping your feet to the techno beat in every single dungeon (well, maybe not the Subway).
You WILL play this game. You WILL like it. Unless you're a disgruntled Square fanboy who is angry because all the characters don't look the same, I highly urge you to go out and play this game. RIGHT NOW.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/05/01, Updated 09/05/01
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