Review by Terrafyre

Reviewed: 06/17/09

Persona - Two Realities in One

Honestly, I've never played a better game.

Two years ago, when Atlus released SMT: Persona 3, I thought it couldn't get any better. Simply put, I was wrong.

Gameplay : 9.5/10
In Persona 4, the mechanics and concept of the gameplay was definitely well thought out. Two realities... one involving everyday teenage life; another involving battling shadows and saving the world. In the former, there are multiple things that make the simulation of life similar to reality. From building social links with your friends to studying for exams to part time jobs. These are the things that the average teen does in his or her life. But then there's the TV in Junes. And shadows. And kicking their butts. You see, the difference from Persona 3 and 4 during battle is the ability to control ALL your characters.

During battle, you face enemies known as Shadows. And you fight them with assorted weapons and persona skills. There are multiple things to do in battle, from attacking normally to healing with your persona. You can auto-assign tactics to your friends as well, if you're lazy to do work. Not to mention, your social links with your comrades actually affect battle as well, from protecting you from certain death to assisting status-ed allies. What you do in the TV world also affects your teenage life. Getting yen for example. And unlocking weapons by bringing the weaponsmith items from the TV world.

The Velvet room also returns. Here, there are multiple things you can do, from Persona Fusion to developing a Social Link. There is a wide array of personas you can fuse, find, release and take into battle. Basic Persona Fusion involves two to three personas while Special Fusions can go up to six.

And then, there is the Persona Compendium. Handy little thing, really, allowing you to recall Personas that have already been acquired, at the cost of yen of course.

Three other major things have changed though, between Persona 3 and Persona 4. The first is, the mind game. Where you could actually acquire multiple blessings from your mind in Persona 3, such as weapons, money and personas, you can only obtain personas in Persona 4. And then there's the double up chance, which allows you to receive positive or negative side effects such as doubling the money earned, or perhaps halving the exp gained.

Another change is there is no Tiredness or Feeling Great in Persona 4. This does affect gameplay due to the fact that it is no longer a requirement to return back and waste a day due to fatigue of the main character. But SP (Spiritual Points) is another factor, and not having any during explorations can be absurdly dangerous.

The last change is, there are no more warp points. That means that you NEED to carry a Goho-M (return item) if you ever venture into the dungeons. The other option is to reach the end of the dungeon, but it isn't easy to do it the first time around.

All in all, the gameplay for Persona 4 is almost perfect. There are teeny little things that prevent me from giving this a 10. But one thing though, unlike other games, I did not ever get bored in battle. There is ALWAYS a challenge, even fighting normal enemies.

The controls were smooth, easy to use, and even fun to play with. Mini-games, such as fishing and developing your characters traits, were fun to play with.

Story - 10/10
Where do I start? Atlus is amazing when it comes to stories. You play the role of a teenager who comes to the rural town of Inaba due to his parents being away. You are greeted by your uncle and cousin, and then the story begins. Murders. The Midnight Channel. Personas. You and your friends must solve this mystery before it is too late.

The main story is, simply put, extremely absorbing. At every turn, there are red herrings, educated guesses and others. You could predict, say 100% of the events, and probably only 20% of them you would strike correct. There are may twist and turns to this plot, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't practically rushing through the entire game to get more of it.

There are multiple side stories as well, mostly from social links. Each story has it's own twist, and all of them was obviously well thought out. Kudos to Atlus.

Characters - 10/10
Heh, I'm going to put Voice Acting in this category as well. I could easily connect to the protagonist, and I actually really felt for all of the characters. I practically loved every single character in the game. Take Yosuke for example. He was a character which I could relate to, and even thought that he was kinda like a perfect best friend for the main character.

I could go on, and on, and on about how awesome the characters are, but that might breach the spoilers. Let's just say that there is a magical quality in what was done with the character's personality and backgrounds.

And it was all enhanced by the flawless voice acting that was done. I never thought that any of the characters sounded out of place. All of them fit in naturally, like a jigsaw puzzle. Each voice actually suited the characteristics and looks of the character. But with such amazing voice actors, such as Yuri Lowenthal and Johnny Yong Bosch, the VAs could hardly go wrong.

Graphics - 9/10
The graphics were pretty clear cut, and it suited the game well. It's not cutting-edge technology, but it looked good. The backgrounds were really breathtaking. The characters look good, and the persona designs were simply amazing.

The camera was pretty cooperative in the game, and the whole game was lag-free. Nothing hanged and so on.

Sound - 10/10
I would love to give this a 12, but it's not right. That would upset the balance of this review. I never got bored of the BGMs in the game. Certain pieces were reused from Persona 3, and they were good. Persona 4 music, however, is in a totally different league. Shoji Meguro did an excellent job with the music this time round, and I found myself singing along more than half of the game. Shihoko Hirata's vocals practically dominated my mind during the game.

Masterful tracks such as Your Affection, Reach Out to the Truth and Pursuing My True Self were stuck in my head even after I put down the controller.

Each track was perfectly atmospheric to every situation. Emergencies, joyful occasions, acceptance, and others were perfectly matched with the right music.

Voice Acting also fall in this category. And needless to say, it was perfect.

Value for Money - 9/10
Very worth the money spent on this game. Do not rent. Buy. Sooner or later you would want to replay this game, due to New Game+ or just another playthrough for fun. When I played, my first playthrough lasted for 110+ hours. And I'm thinking of a second really soon. The story is awesome, the OST is amazing, and the replay value is great. Think of all the time you would spend filling up your persona compendium. Worth it? Definitely.

Combination - 10/10
The whole combination put together is what makes this game amazing. The story and characters blend perfectly with the graphics and sound, along with the gameplay. Each event will leave you hungry for more, and the laughs and tears this game could bring is definitely worth the time spent playing.

Gameplay - 9.5/10
Story - 10/10
Characters - 10/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Value for Money - 9/10
Combination - 10/10

Overall - 67.5/70
- 96.42%

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (US, 12/09/08)

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