Review by SeraphLance
"A series about personality problems culminates in a game WITH them."
Persona 3 is, if you didn't know, Atlus' newest incarnation of the Shin Megami Tensei series, or "MegaTen" for short. It's also radically different from any other SMT game, including it's own predecessors.
Story - 3/10
Easily the title's weakest point. You start with a very intriguing cutscene that leaves you awestruck, and it seems as if the game is going to be a well-told mystery rife with psychological exploration. Nope. An hour in, Persona 3 goes from Persona 2 to Bloody Bride, and doesn't look back. The game sacrifices any semblance of a decent story for non-linear simulation gameplay. Unfortunately, the game doesn't admit it up front, and instead we have to deal with a poor attempt at keeping one. It's a script that makes Star Ocean 3 look like a literary milestone.
Occasionally, the game tries to go back to a serious tone, but the attempt is pretty pathetic. Instead, you're left not caring when people die, because J-Pop and a dating sim load up immediately afterwards, and paused less than 10 minutes prior.
Gameplay - 6/10
As far as combat goes, Persona 3 is frickin incredible. The game uses a derivative of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne's Press Turn System, but does away with the "half turn" addition from exploiting weaknesses and changes it to a full turn addition, sometimes making the game pathetically easy, but it certainly helps to streamline things. Unfortunately, the battles suffer from horrifically stupid AI, and you can't manually control your characters, so there's simply no way around it.
sub-score: 9/10 (-1 for the AI)
The simulation aspect also cannot be ignored, as you'll spend the bulk of your time in it. Unfortunately, it's not exactly quality material. As a matter of fact, it's down-right pathetic. I've seen Flash Games that did a better job. Your character has 3 "stats" which are broken down into levels of 1 to 5. Unfortunately, and very annoyingly, you can't actually see how close you are to leveling up a stat, so you just have to guess. Needless to say, it doesn't work that well, unless you grab a FAQ and actually count your point bonuses.
There's also a relationship stat for a variety of characters (one for most of the major arcana of a tarot deck, which Persona uses to classify it's monsters). Unfortunately, raising these stats is laughably boring, pardon the oxymoron. All you do is see more horribly scripted story (albeit not main storyline material) and monotonous scheduling.
Graphics - 9/10
The graphics fit the game, and look good in the process. They're not exactly cutting edge like FFXII, but they get the job done, and more importantly, do it cleanly. The graphics are highly stylized as well.
Sound/Music - 9/10
While the music is rather mediocre and unnoticeable, the game has excellent voice acting, and some of the best I've seen in videogames. Kudos to Atlus for grabbing some voice actors you don't see often in games (though anime fans might get some Dejavu).
Replay Value - 7/10
The game has a fair amount of replay value if you're impatient, and virtually none if you aren't. Then again, it's an RPG, so who's surprised?
Overall - 5/10
A good battle system and quality voice acting are marred by bad most everything else. It's really a shame, but this game ends up strikingly average in it's own bi-polar way.
Buy or Rent:
If you like it, buy it. It's fairly rare, so you may have trouble finding it later.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 08/28/07
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