16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Persona 4 (PS2) (Video Game)
First of all let's be honest, this game came out way too late. By 2009 most people's 60GB backwards compatible PS3 had YLOD'd and everybody else who decided to keep their PS2 for possible future use most likely shelved them with the Christmas decorations and old shoes, or donated them to their two year old nephews or nieces. If this game had come out in 2005, it probably would have been game of the century. Never mind final fantasy or Persona 3, this game excels them all, and here's why
PS2: First off, its on the PS2. What does that mean? It means that a lot of time and effort was spent on developing a fantastic story, believable and extremely likable characters, fluid and easy game play and no online features. In other words all the effort didn't go into fancy graphics and online game play like it so often does these days. It also means a modern game finally that's below age 18 certificate and without people being brutally torn apart and swearing like sailor men. Call me old fashioned, but I find it a grand shame that games like this are missed because people are afraid to turn back to the PS2 game because characters heads are a bit more square. Although unlike some earlier PS2 games and the first two personas, this game boasts some smooth and aesthetically pleasing graphics.
Comparrisons: If you're worried about playing Persona 4 without having played 1, 2 and 3, don't be. Like the final fantasy series, the story in no way relates to the previous games other than the follow on of the traditional Shin Megami Tensei legend. Essentially though, persona 4 is basically persona 3 but with a different story and different characters. In other words the gameplay feels identical appart from a few extra features and a few taken away. There are also repeated characters such as igor, some of the enemies and the two gossiping girls at the school gates! For those who have only played games like Lucifers call or digital devil saga, you'll recognise item names menu layouts and persona's. However unlike in previous Shin games, the monsters are now your allies and the enemy is something completely new. Just like in persona 3, as you progress through the game, more powerful personas become available as you greedily collect them all up. The fusing ability is still available, although with a slightly different 'card game' option which becomes available after you defeat some foes, the necessity to fuse is less so in this game as bigger and better personas are as easy to come by as a drunk in bar. The annoyingly consistent dillema over which personas to say bye bye to when your holding capabilities max out is still as ever present however. As well as being an obvious sister to the final fantasy series (turn based battle systems, interact with people roam around a big world) the game is also quite similar to that of the sims. An amalgamation of the two if you like. Where with final fantasy the character only changes with relation to battle status, in this you can change your character through interacting with people, making friends, investing time in relationships and getting a job etc. All of these typical everyday life activities direct the flow of the game and the story as well as build your character up to open up doors for new storylines, missions and battle skills. A lot of these after school activties are repeated from the previous game with some new ones added.
Gameplay: The flow of Persona 4 can be excessively slow and there's a good reason why the game lasts 100 hours+ It was about 5 hours down the line before I actually had some control over the character, and that was just to save the game so I could finally go to sleep at 2 in the morning. If you're a quick fix shoot em up rookie that gets bored with long stints of dialogue and beguiling narratives, then this game is definately not for you. However, once the initial introduction of the storyline was over, control over the character became increasingly more as the game progressed. The controls of the game are nice and easy, especially when it comes to the battles. The great thing about the persona games is that they don't make the battles too over complicated or give you too many decisions to make. This is a good thing if you haven't that much experience with turn based battle systems before, or if you're just down right lazy like me. While you have to live everyday like a normal person i.e. get up, go to school, have dinner, read a book, the game feels quite fluid and similar in style to Canis canem edit. In fact with the increasing demand on the characters responsibilities and social life, you'll find yourself desperate for some simple reading time (in the game) where you can build up your stats. Like in the sims, your character has many differen personality statistics which determine what you can or can't do in the game. For example, by reading a book in your room you may develop some courage skills (depending on the book). As you develop courage through various other forms you'll eventually reach a level where you move on to a new stage in courage. If during the storyline a decision requires you to be at that stage then you can move the storyline in that direction. If however you're not, then that oportunity will be lost forever. Thats why it is important to use all your free time wisely to make sure you don't miss out on things because you're still a big coward (in the game).
Story: The story is one of the most engaging stories I've come across since FF7. Because there are so many cut scenes and so much dialogue you can't help but get immersed in the persona world. Although at first the storyline may seem a little over the top and thought up by a group of guys in the pub after a few too many, you quickly begin to let go of reality and start to take it all for granted. This is helped by the realistic way in which the characters communicate with each other, and the by the down to earth questions that are posed. The way you can chose how you respond or ask questions yourself as you interact with the characters adds a real sense of involvment. With several different endings as well, it's the kind of game that could potentially last a lifetime.
Graphics and sound: The graphics in this game aren't the best in the world, but they're still good for a PS2 game. With a slightly smaller area to roam around than the previous persona, more effort has been placed in creating a scenically pleasant small Japanese town. The design of the characters is fantastic, as is the way they move and act which is a lot more realistic the classic flailling arms genre of game. The voice actors are brilliant from the beginning and add a lot to the likability of the characters. Your character remains silent throughout the game which unlike star ocean or Cursed king I felt worked exceptionally well as you are pretty much making your character live his day to life. This way you can fit the role of the character without feeling like you're playing as somebody else. The music of the game reeks of cheezy Japanese Pop which while at first sounds pretty funky, starts to grate a little bit after 100 hours of gameplay. But still, it fits the game rather well and must have bee a successful soundtrack as you can buy it seperately for no small price.
Overall: This is an RPG that any self proclaiming RPG fan should own. If you've played the first five hours of the game and are unsure I would strongly recommend sticking with it. This game will provide you with a gaming experience that you will never forget. Get this game now!!