Review by LiquefyDCZ
"Persona 3 is Absolutely Riveting."
After completing the game, I have the confidence to say that Persona 3 is one of the best games I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Of course it would be wrong for me to say that P3 is perfect on every level, but the overall satisfaction I received from playing it surpassed any other RPG I've played.
Here is a quick review for those that like to see the numbers:
Now onto the good stuff:
Quick note for those that are new to the franchise: don't worry. You don't have to play any of the previous Shin Megami Tensei or Persona games to play this one. Persona 3 has its own unique story separate from its predecessors.
The game starts out in the near future in 2009, Japan. You start off as a silent and mysterious protagonist that just transferred to Gekkoukan High School. Soon after transferring, you are revealed to the Dark Hour, a time that takes place at midnight every night. Most people are placed into coffins during this period and don't experience the Dark Hour. Only a select few, especially those that wield the power of a "Persona" can avoid being put into a coffin and experience the evil that lurks within the Dark Hour.
You are one of those Persona-users, however you are a unique case. You soon find out that you hold a special power that lets you wield the power of multiple Personas unlike the regular Persona-users that can only control one.
The story will start off slow to some people, but it's understandable (elaborated in the gameplay section). Once the story really gets started, then things start to get really interesting. Overall, I felt that the story was a wonderfully written tale of the meaning of life and death. The only problem I had was that the end left too many unanswered questions.
I give the story a 9/10.
The art in this game is wonderfully drawn. I love the style of art that is used to create the characters. The FMVs in the game do not disappoint, and anime fans will especially enjoy them. The comic book effects used in the game were a pleasant addition that added more life into the characters, and made their emotions easily comprehended.
However, the 3D models of the characters and the monsters could have been better. Most of the spell effects are not particularly amazing, though there were a few that are displayed quite beautifully. While there are a few great looking Personas, there are many that are appear dull and have no real spark. These are really the only downsides to the graphics.
Despite the negatives, the art is efficient at displaying the darker parts of the game and even the brightful portions as well. The game's dungeon is well made with various "blocks" that is fittingly dark and have different atmospheres to prevent the dungeon from getting bland. I also especially like how the school was made. The trees in the front of the school change accordingly with the seasons, and the way the leaves flutter down is absolutely beautiful.
I give the graphics a 8/10.
The sound used in Persona 3 is definitely unique and different from other RPG games. It's something you'll either like or dislike, but it's definitely a nice change from the typical RPG style music. The music various within the game; there are upbeat music as well as rapping, and some opera (which I especially like). I found the music to be masterfully orchestrated, and fits perfectly with the style of the game. What surprised me was how quick the original soundtrack joined the very few video game OSTs that I love.
The voice acting is another portion that does not disappoint. I usually favor the Japanese voices over English ones, but surprisingly, I rather listen to the English VAs instead of the Japanese ones. The voices used for the main characters fit perfectly with their respective personalities, and the emotions conveyed through the voices were wonderfully well done and accurate. However, there are one or two voices that were irritating and difficult to listen to. Luckily, they had few lines and did not take anything away from the overall quality.
I give the sound a 9/10.
The gameplay is another unique addition in Persona 3. The best way I can describe it is that it's two different types of games that is masterfully entwined to produce a single great game. Half of the game you will be battling monsters in the game's large dungeon, and the other half socializing with various characters around the school and the city.
The battles are turn-based, and you only have control of the main character. Don't worry though, your allies are intelligent enough to survive on their own. You can also use different tactics to suggest to your allies what course of action to take when fighting. Personas are used as the source of magic powers in this RPG. Each Persona has the typical strength and weakness. You can also fuse different Personas to create a better and more powerful Persona. The game is slightly different from other traditional RPGs as it focuses more on strategy than just pure strength. You will have a difficult time trying to beat this game if you do not take advantage of an enemy's weakness.
The difficulty of the game various. At the start of a new game you are allowed to choose either Easy or Normal. If you pick the Easy difficulty, you will plow through the game with virtually no difficulty. Normal is where the harsh reality of Persona 3's AI reveals itself. You can easily dispatch any monster as long as you exploit their weaknesses. However, if you're not careful the AI will wipe you out without mercy. The main frustration of Persona 3 is that if your main character dies it is instant game over. However, just remember to save frequently and you can prevent any further frustration.
The downside is that the combat will become repetitive to some people, but I had no problems with it (I enjoy grinding). So if you dislike grinding, the fighting portion may not be the best thing for you. But might I suggest the other half of the gameplay?
The second half of the gameplay is the social interaction with other people in the city. This is why the story starts off a little slow, it's giving you more time to interact with other characters. Improving relationships with other NPCs around the city directly affects certain types of Persona. You can say that building relationships with people will strengthen your Personas in different ways.
In addition to going out on dates with various girls and interacting with other interesting strangers, you can also go and improve your character's personality. The main character has an academic, charm, and courage bar that can be improved through various ways. Higher academics, charm, and courage unlocks events. Remember to study so you can score high on that midterm in school!
I give the gameplay a 9/10.
The game boasts about the 70+ hours of gameplay, which is true if you intend to try to get a 100% completion. If you plan to enjoy the game to its fullest, you have 160 Personas waiting to be found and 50+ optional quests for you to complete. In my case, I played at my own pace and finished the game at around 62 hours, which surprised me because I usually finish RPGs in around 35-40 hours. Once you finish the game you have the option of creating a New Game+ file, which allows you to carry your level, money, and some other items into a new game.
I give the replayability a 8/10.
Overall, I loved this game. It is a solid title that deserves much praise and recognition. I especially loved the various Japanese honorifics that were kept after translation. However, Atlus should have provided their meanings to those who are not familiar with Japanese. The game also has its share of humor that I immensely enjoyed.
If you're a fan of great RPGs, do not hesitate to get this game. If you're new to the genre, I suggest renting it, but don't expect finishing the game in a couple days unless you plan to put in around +15 hours a day.
Overall Score: 9/10
Thank you Atlus for bringing one of the best RPGs to the US.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/22/07
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