Review by DragonClaw01

"(Persona)lly Great!"

The Shin Megami Tensei Series is a long running series in Japan that is now getting aclaim in the united states. Persona 4 is the sequel to Persona 3 a unique game that combined a dating simulator with a rogue like dungeon crawl. Persona 4 is a well polished game that should statify the gamer that plays it.

Graphics: The graphics engine of the persona games looks fine. The graphics are nothing special with fairly average character sprites and not a whole lot of visual effects, although The retro feel of the menus and the game with its yellow and brown color combinations make the game stand out. There are now multiple dungeons with their own unique theme. This helps break up the visual monotony, which is found in certain dungeon crawl which such places as a rainbow and mystical heaven, an video game world and a secret laboratory. These are only purely ascetic though and offers no changes to the gameplay. The main weakness in the graphics is the amount of palate swaps on enemies. Despite what world your in there will be the usual tanks and people on horses with just a name swap and a different color to tell the difference. They all are different in gameplay, but it would have been nice to put out a little more effort in redesigning enemies because although a tank may work in a video game it does not fit into heaven too well.-7

Sound: The persona series always had a lot of voice acting and persona 4 did a great job especially for the main characters. This is good because Persona 4 unlike 3 gives your main characters much more time to interact with all the field trips and side story and for them to deliver their lines well is important to carrying out the humor that plays a huge role in this game. There also is a ton of voice acting only the dating sequences seem to lack it, which is amazing that they fit so much audio in the game. The music fits the overall light hearted feel of the game well, but it is fairly popsy. Even the normal battle song is a pop song. This could be good or bad depending on which person you are, but since the tracks seem to often fit in with whats going on it should not be a problem for most people-8

Story: The story well executed, but nothing special. A killer is killing people by using his special powers to throw people in the TV were they get devoured by their shadow, which is their suppressed alter ego turned into reality. You have been endowed by a mysterious power to enter the TV as well and must gather up your friends to help rescue the people in the TV and find out evidence of who the killer really is. The story is just a murder mystery with a theme of facing oneself thrown in because your allies must accept their shadow in order to gain control over its powers. Both are fairly average plots, but using the TV as a metaphor to suppressed human emotion is fairly interesting. The stories pacing is just like any other murder mystery it gives bits and pieces while you rescue people and finally at the near end of the game ,which is around the month of November, the game accelerates to a conclusion with lightning speed. The story raps up well and like most Shin Megami Tensei stories has some extra dimensional force dictating events. The killer was very unexpected though and the game did a good job of not telegraphing it, while still adding little clues that you may notice the second time around. Overall the main story was nothing special and most of the action was at the end

The best part of the story is certainly the character interactions. The game gives you many opportunities through after school activities, school camps and field trips to give your team mates time to interact. Something which Persona 3 was certainly lacking. These interactions are hilarious whether it was signing up the male main characters to a cross dressing contest, your characters playing drunken games at a nightclub in the city or having to watch your characters endure the horrific cooking of all of your female teammates there was a lot of funny moments away from the story to let the characters shine. The characters are very well done in this game espcially for a jrpg. Whether it was Teddie the character that lays out horrific puns and has a youthful ignorance about the human world to Yosuke the wisecracker there was a lot of variation and none of them seem to feel too much like stock characters. While the characters at times may fall into sterotypes like naoto the detective naoto for the most part the characters feel fairly organic and the interactions between them do not feel forced. The side stories in between the story and the characters are really what makes persona 4 stand out in the story department as the main story arc is nothing too special.-8

Gameplay: The gameplay is very solid and has a lot to offer. As previously mentioned the gameplay is divided between social links and a rogue like dungeon crawl. The game plays out in a year with each day allowing the Main Character to accomplish quests, max social links (dating simulator part of the game) and dungeon crawl, which is now done during the day instead of the night. The schedule is now much more chaotic with more events going on during the days and character interactions to see during the month as well as more personality stats to upgrade which was a huge improvement over its predessor persona 3, which essentially had four nights dedicated to the dungeon and the rest of the days just maxing out social links, which got tedious quick. The social links feel weaker in this version though and there was only three that kept me wanting to see more which were the fortune, emperor and tower.

The dungeon crawl aspect got a huge overhaul for the better in this version. The main additions are the ability to manually control your team mates and the new guard command, which allows one to reduce damage and cover their weaknesses. Both fit in the game perfectly and many bosses now have more sophisticated attack patterns that advantage of these features such as have allies that help the boss, charging up for a huge move, which you must guard and switching the elements that they null. Furthermore the guard commands ability to allow one to guard their weakness coupled with weaknesses of characters getting eliminated by max social links allows one to have a set team to complete the game with, so one does not have to switch their characters around for different bosses. Personas movesets now seem more useful from the get go. In this version I passed much more skills down the line than previous personas and actually spent time calculating my fusions better something a rarely did in persona 3. All the previously mentioned things might be a huge turn off to hard core gamers that feel like the difficulty of persona 4 does not compare to other Shin Megami Tensei games, but in the end most bosses do require a bit of stratagy especially the beginning ones and the ability to play on expert mode, which increases the damage of the opponents attacks by 150 percent should even things out for all but the most extreme all the while still being accessible to other types of gamers.-8

Replay: The replay is fairly good in this game. There are four different endings although the true ending and the normal ending a fairly similar. There is a bonus dungeon that one might miss during the first play through which has tougher enemies and allows the person to continue to play the game even after they beat the main story arc. It is also nearly impossible to max all the social links without a guide due to all the minor slink boosts thrown throughout the game and the freedom one has during the game. Finally one may wish to have every persona in the compendium and to achieve this easier the game allows you to transfer the previous compendium from an old game into a new one.-7 persona four has good enough re playability to play twice.-7

Overall: Although the main story is a little bit of a disappointment and the game may be too dialog heavy for some people with the character interactions and S-Links, the game is very solid. The dungeon crawling aspect is nearly perfect and the boss battles are memorable. Finnally the characters feel fairly organic, which is very unique for a jrpg. The game gets a eight and it is certainly well deserved. Thank You Atlus!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/08/09

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

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