Review by trekkie_pisay06

"Underestimated Yet Original and Creative"

This game is quite unknown and very underrated. I mean, a lot of people underestimate this game solely because it is NOT a Square RPG. Well, this game totally changed my mind about the concept that only Square can make the good RPG games out there.

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (EP from here on) is the second part of the Persona 2 series. The first one, Innocent Sin (IS from here on), was not released to the U.S.A. for reasons unknown (but we can always guess now can we…) and fortunately for those who can only understand English, EP does not rely too much on the storyline of IS. There are, of course, aspects of the game in which only those who knows the story of IS can relate to. But don't worry because as I said, those moments are quite few.

It short, the EP storyline can stand alone. If you want to know the story of IS, go out there in the Web and search for that.

But, enough about that. Let me begin reviewing this game for you prospective consumers out there.

Gameplay: 10/10 (I can make this 20/10 if I can)
Superb gameplay. This is the ultimate edge of Persona 2: EP versus the other games out there. The storyline is very creative since it involves you playing in a modern era. In fact, you ARE playing in Modern Japan (but I don't think the city exists) and there are issues presented here that are really happening in society.

Let us start with the overworld. The overworld (FINALLY!!!) is not hard to comprehend. You can simply move the arrow in the screen to go where you need to go. No more running around (literally speaking) towns just to go buy your stuff. Simply move the arrow to the nearest mall and go to the store.

Stores are selling armor, jewelry and weapons but they can also cure you and sometimes improve your stats for some time.

Miscellaneous places (such as homes and offices etc.) can be accessed but if you do not need to go there, other characters will stop you from entering.

Dungeons are quite complicated. There are traps and there are the occasional “drops” to the floor below you. These were nicely drawn and were fitted with nice music. There will also be a time limit in some dungeons due to some storyline or detail effects.

Battle System – The core of Persona 2: EP
The battle system of EP is unique compared to the other games. There is the usual attack, defend and magic. Magic is not cast anymore by the player but cast by a Persona. Personae are like your Guardian Forces of the Final Fantasy series except that it has different spells that you can choose, though there are some personae that have attacks they can only have. So in battle, one might choose to attack or use a Persona to fight with magic or special physical attacks. You can, also, combine different spells in a specific order and sometimes with specific personae to release a more powerful attack known in this game as Fusion Spells. There are some Fusion Spells though that may be quite familiar to you because of the personae involved in those Fusion Spells.

The persona you equip will also be a variable in some of the battles. The persona and the demons can engage in Persona-Talk where the persona in question and a specific demon will… talk. The effects can either be beneficial or not, it all depends on who is in dialogue. For example, an Odin persona will be friends with a Valkyrie demon but will be in berserk mode if he meets with Fenrir due to mythological events (Fenrir literally eats Odin during Ragnarok, remember).

The entire system is dependent on the Persona you have. Each character has a specific set of Personae that they are compatible with. The more compatible a Persona is with a character, the less SP (spell points) you use to summon them. Each Persona is different since each Persona has a different attribute that you will have to exploit in order to defeat your enemies. Some are strong against certain elements while some are weak against that. The proper combination will let you defeat enemies with ease.

The main difference of the battle system is that you do not rely solely on killing the enemies to win. Here is where the Contact System, one of the most important and creative system, is introduced. You can talk to enemies using the talents of your characters and their personalities. Each enemy will respond differently with an accompanying emotion. Good emotions reap good rewards and the bad rewards goes for bad emotions. Good rewards are sometimes in the form of cards and contracts. The most important thing here is the usage of cards.

The cards that you obtain from these monsters are what you are going to use to summon new Personae in the Velvet Room. The higher the level of the Persona you want to summon, the higher amount of cards you need and of course, there is a minimum character level to summon. You can modify the Persona you want to summon by only a little such as adding one more spell if you want.

In some games, defending in RPGs is not needed. Well, in this game you need to at certain instances. Let's just say that the only way to win against some enemies is to defend.

This is not a problem in Persona 2: EP. The usual RPG games have easy controls and this game is no exception to that trend.

Rumor System – “Rumors become reality”
At the beginning of the game, a character will say that rumors will become reality. It may sound like your usual blabbing as part of the story but in this game. That concept reveals a new system. The rumor system is also one the original things in this game. In this system, you are forced to go around Sumaru City, find rumormongers and then spread the rumor for it to become real.

For example, you received a rumor about some items being sold at this shop and you want it to be real. All you have to do now is to go to this specific place and pay the guy there to spread the rumor. After that, the rumor becomes real.

You will need this system in order to progress the storyline, open new shops and items, engage in side events and encounter optional bosses and dungeons. The storyline will also stress this system when you are near the end.

The contact system mentioned before stated the use of contracts with enemies. Contracts from enemies will allow you to get monster-specific or spell-specific rumors that might be useful. Some of the contracts though might reveal some concepts about IS.

Storyline 10/10
The game opens with a series of FMVs featuring a guy in a shrine with some flashbacks and later opens to the main character, Maya Amano. Maya works as a journalist in a popular teen magazine called “Coolest”. She is assigned to the story of the Joker Curse and the serial killings going around the city and was sent to Seven Sisters High School to work on the article. There, she gets wrapped in the middle of everything as the serial killer seems to know her and then suddenly activates her Persona along with her best friend and a cop.

Soon, the story involves some occult rituals, a little human experimentation, the Taiwanese Mafia, some more occult, some references to IS, add a little urban legend and there you go, a storyline that you can only find in this RPG.

Mind you that the occult stuff found in this game are quite accurate to the true rituals and this game is actually considered one of the most accurate games in their references to occult. The occult in IS is a bit more… disturbing than in EP. I suggest surfing the web and read the script if you have the time to know what I am talking about.

Graphics 8/10
I put this score after playing the Final Fantasy series. Since the FF series used 3D animation, it was quite an uncomfortable view looking at the drawings to be 2D once again, pixilated I might add.

The settings were drawn well and the character portraits are drawn anime style. All the characters look thin though and gives the image that this is a dark game as it involves occult and urban legends.

Sound 10/10
The sounds make up for the graphics. The sounds are able to reflect the settings quite well and there are specific instances that when you are already near the boss, the BGM is turned to low volume and a heartbeat is heard. When you go nearer to where the boss is, s stronger beat can be heard.

Battle themes are quite “beaty” especially the boss fights. You will be able to feel the fights very well thanks to the music. There will also be one boss fight when the battle theme is from IS.

Replayability 9/10
EP is replayable. I mean, the story will branch out into to directions sometime in the game but will eventually meet at one point. The branches each show a different side of the story and you may want to play the game twice on the same file to be able to access the EX Dungeon and fight an extremely challenging boss or summon new and more powerful personae (mind that the most powerful personae are “disturbing” if I should say so myself).

The only problem is that the game is time consuming because you still have to level up and collect cards in order to summon new personae. One run-through of the game can probably take 70-90 hours depending on the speed of the storyline.

Overall 10/10
Great storyline, new systems and not so hard controls, do I even need to complain or expound about that? I suggest buying this game and not rent it. I assure you, you too will get hooked up in the game.

I still do, after getting the game 4 years ago.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 09/20/05

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