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on 2 November 2011
I can't believe I only just discovered this gem a few months ago. Whilst a little hard to get into at first, once the preliminary story bits are out of the way and it is established how to play the game, it gets really immersive!

If you haven't played the series before, your character fights with the aid of powerful magical entites called Personas, which are represented by different suits of the Tarot main Arcana. These Personas are described as a 'second you' that live inside certain people and can be called out to fight for you.

In terms of combat its a classic dungeon crawler with turn based combat, advancing up levels of the dungeon and facing more powerful enemies as you do so, with bosses at intervals and your character and their personas leveling up as you progress.

Outside of the dungeon the game takes on a life sim spin. Your character has to attend school most days, juggling an acedemic and social life. The social life is actually an important aspect of the game. When creating persona's, their initial power relies on the strength 'social links', which only become stronger as you advance in relationships. You also have the opportunity to visit the dungeon most nights with your party, whom apart from the main character you don't directly control, but can set tactics for so they fight in a certain way. This speeds up battles quite nicely, as you'll be having a lot of them.

Just because the dungeon seems optional, don't think you can get away with just playing the life sim side of the game though! You'll see from the start that every day has the phase of the moon at that time next to it. On every full moon you'll be expected to fight, and if you haven't been using your time effectively to become stronger, you're in for a big surprise!

With the FES edition comes a whole new story line, which takes place after the main game, which also has some major changes too, and due to the length and complexity of the game, it can be played multiple times with maximum replay value.

If you're into unique JRPG's, life sims, or dungeon crawlers, this game is a classic must have with an amazing story.
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on 3 September 2011
I'd say I'm about halfway through this game, and I'll definitely be finishing it.

Graphics:
For many of us buying the game, this means going back to SD PS2 graphics after playing current-generation consoles. This isn't a particularly good-looking PS2 game either, with other choices such as Dark Chronicle, Rogue Galaxy and the Final Fantasy games being much more detailed. That said, even though it looks a bit faded and blocky, it's a very cleanly presented game that rarely looks offensively bad. The worst-looking parts are probably when it zooms in on the character models after a battle. Thankfully these models aren't what you're expected to relate to- the characters are represented in dialogues by larger, animé-style sprites, similar to those in the likes of Trauma Center, and these look great. Otherwise, you're never going to be impressed, but it's unlikely Persona 3 will disgust you.

Gameplay:
By day, the game is something of a visual novel, where your character goes to school, walks around town, and interacts with people they meet. By night, you traverse a massive dungeon, taking out the malevolent ghosts using your Persona powers. The social element is quite engaging- the characters each have some depth to them, so chances are you'll choose a few early on and focus on their storylines, which is a fine strategy, since this will result in souped-up, powerful Personas for those "Social Links". You'll spend a lot of time talking to people and reading text, so if you're the kind of gamer who's always eager for action, the game probably isn't for you.

The battle system works well- they're a bit like Pokémon battles, but with teammates to give you a hand. They do threaten to become repetitive, but the game mostly avoids this by offering you plenty of challenges and bits on the side to do. You'll acquire new Personas all the time, adding to the games playability, Plus, you can usually access the dungeon whenever you choose to. Would you rather have an early night and kick some social ass tomorrow? Or get some studying done to impress people? The game will offer you that choice. This freedom is very welcome and offers a sense of immersion.

The game offers three difficulty levels. Playing on Normal, I get the feeling the game could become difficult if you don't access the dungeons regularly enough; again, the regular challenges offer incentive for you to explore and gain unique items and Personas. The difficulty curve is gradual however, and the mechanics are easy to grasp. There are a few frustrating one-hit KO moves that can result in you losing progress, and will result in you needing to save often, but there are ways of preventing them.

Story and Presentation:
Persona offers both the overarching storyline and the character's individual storylines to follow. The game involves a few archetypes, but for the most part is quite original, with the occasional animé-styled cutscenes being very artsy and modern. It has a fairly casual tone to it, since your socialising and battling is based around day and night, and a yearly calendar, so the game takes the attitude of day being 'play', and night being 'work'. The game isn't overtly Japanese in it's humor or likability- it's clearly set in a Japanese town, there's a shrine and the like and there are Japanese names, but there isn't any 'moe' moments or quirks like that, which will please some gamers.

The English voice-acting can be a mixed bag but it's actually quite a decent job I feel. The actors sound into their roles enough, with certain characters such as Yukari, Mitsuru, Akihiko and Junpei standing out, with others like Fuuka and Pharos being likely to grate. I was personally occasionally annoyed by how some of them pronounced Japanese phrases- none of them appeared to know how to say the name "Akihiko"- but like the graphics these problems become ignorable after a grace period.

Overall, Persona is a satisfyingly deep game with plenty to do, a unique character to it and rock-solid gameplay. It offers everything a hardcore JRPG fan could want, while remaining fairly accessible if you don't mind a bit of reading and dungeon crawling, since the game's variety should make up for any qualms.
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on 29 July 2013
Persona 3 FES is probably one of the most memorable role-playing games you will ever play.

I bought the game largely off of the recommendation of a friend, and also after a small amount of research to determine just what the game involved. Looking into it (but not too much, lest spoilers arise) most people would appreciate that the gameplay involves tactical, turn-based battles (much like other typical JRPGS) combined with a heavy emphasis on storytelling and, of course, the franchise's almost flagship 'social link' system, which involves using genuine role-playing to make friends with NPCs, then cashing in on those bonds to get a significant tactical edge in battle. For the sake of convenience, I'll divide the detail of this review into a few sections.

- Plot (and the abundance of it) 9/10
The storyline is this game's making and, for some people, its undoing. If you're a fan of story-driven games with relateable characters, plot twists and genuine emotion throughout, this game was practically made for you. However, if you're not so big on this, the often lengthy conversations and cutscenes may grate slightly as you progress. Some small spoilers follow, but nothing you won't learn within the first 30 minutes.
The basic breakdown of the plot is that you are a transfer student to Gekkoukan highschool. Barely off the train, you experience the mysterious 'Dark Hour' and, arriving at your new dorm, you find yourself bound by a foreboding contract presented to you by a strange kid who- you guessed it- immediately disappears. Shortly thereafter monstrous Shadows start popping up all over the place, and having realised your true power- that of 'Persona'- it's up to you and a group of troubled students to do something about them. Suffice to say, though, that nothing in this game's storyline is what it seems. End of potential spoilers.

- Gameplay (I hope you like grinding) 8/10
The game is essentially split into two sections: the first takes place day by day, with your character having to attend school and being able to take part in after-school activities, while the second takes place in the time known as the 'Dark Hour'. During the Dark Hour, you can choose to explore a vast dungeon with randomised levels, loot and enemies for endless replayability. This might sound rather enticing, but in actual fact the dungeon levels are rather bleak, sterile rooms and corridors punctuated only by the odd enemy or box of loot. And so one of the game's main flaws arises: the repetetive nature of the Dark Hour gameplay. You will spend probably around half the game fighting your way through these almost identical dungeon levels, beating an (admittedly very interesting) variety of enemies. Don't get me wrong, there's more to it than I can include here and it's nowhere near as terrible as it likely sounds, but after 50+ hours you'll likely want to focus more on the daytime gameplay than the Dark Hour gameplay.
Having said this, the tactical battles are challenging and very unforgiving at times, so you'll have to stay on your toes or frequently face defeat. Unlike most turn-based RPGs, you only have direct control over your own character, with your party members (up to 3 not including yourself) acting according to the vague tactics you set them. They won't always do what you want them to, but for the most part the AI is excellent and rarely makes mistakes. Similarly, the enemies have an impressive range of AI, with basic monsters often playing into your hands and more powerful foes ruthlessly taking advantage of your weaknesses. Turn-based fans will not be disappointed.
And of course, finally, the 'Persona' system deserves a mention. As you progress through the game, you will gain more Personas, which allow the execution of advanced skills and attacks in battle according to which one you have 'equipped'. You can combine two or more Personas to create more powerful ones, and with ~170 different ones to choose from, you're practically guaranteed not to find them all in one playthrough. Combine this with the fact that your social links from the daytime game make your Personas more powerful and you have one very, very unique system, which I greatly enjoyed.

- Music and Voices (your ears will enjoy this game) 10/10
On a quick note, Persona 3 certainly reflects the quality of its story and gameplay in the music it features. There's an incredible variety in there, from haunting, beautiful vocal tracks to the upbeat dance pieces played during daytime gameplay. If you're a connoisseur of gameplay music, there's bound to be something in here that you love.
Similarly, the voice acting is generally excellent, which really helps confirm most of the characters not just as memorable, but as badasses in their own right. If you're not a fan of Japanese honorifics being used in English dialogue, however, it may take a little getting used to. Not a big deal though.

- Conclusion (the rambling doth end) Overall- screw it, 10/10
Concluding, I realise just how little justice I can do this game merely by talking about it. It is an investment to finish, true, and while the gameplay time is estimated at ~70 hours, it took me well over 100 hours to finish, excluding the epilogue story which is in itself around 30 hours long. Thus, this is not a 'casual' game, nor is it a game you can expect to breeze through. But if you do pick it up, you will find that Persona 3 is so much more than you anticipated, irrespective of its flaws. You will not be disappointed.
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on 31 May 2013
After having to deal with Square-Enix and their increasing failures to acknowledge anything remotely that made Final Fantasy a critically acclaimed series, I felt like it was time to look elsewhere; Cue Persona. On the surface it's a very typical supernatural/teen drama paradigm; Teenagers with hidden abilities to combat <insert antagonist here>. But sink some time into it and you will begin to see a definite attempt from the game to delve into something slightly more cerebral. The influences of Jung's Theories on Shadows and the Persona aren't just tacked onto the game to produce some half baked illusion of depth. Rather the true underpinnings of Analytical psycholgy pervade the game down to the mythology inherent in the Persona aspects themselves. There is much to be taken and interpreted here from the narrative and it's a welcome change i will discuss further.
The melodromatic,predestined, godhead trappings of Final Fantasies more recent titles seem to become more derivative and bloated as time progresses. With false villains being chased for half the game only to turn into an enigmatic god with no connection to the central characters whatsoever. The loved and loathed Deus ex Machina being a frequent calling card to resolve hasty, uninspired writing is something i grew to avoid more and more. Characters standing for up to 15 minutes giving naval-gazing monologues on facing reality and overcoming fate tend to grow more bromide and taxing to endure the more i try to engage with them. The series is losing itself in a quest to become more meaningful but ironically is becoming more shallow in it's transparent attempts to do so. persona 3 i've found on the otherhand still slowly builds to reflect the epic (i'm actually using the word for it's definition) impact of the situation the characters face, but still manages to be concise and to the point in doing so whilst whisking you through internal struggles characters face to provide some much needed empathy, albeit without the drawn out exposition.
Obviously the game doesn't invite you to sit down for a lecture; The subject matter is given more of an animated role in the game. You -the main character and persona user- are granted with the ability to produce a Persona: a representation of yourself that is evoked in a rather controversial manner, that is using an Evoker (fake pistol) to immitate the act of suicide. This produces the entity to battle various foes in the game within a supernatural setting called The Dark Hour. It's an interesting take on the general summoning game mechanic. And it isn't just comsmectic in nature. As in fact your stats depend solely on the stats of your equipped persona. So there's a definite sense of attachment encouraged with thier use.

The game is split into a sort of dichotomy between a thing called S.Links and a Hub/Grinding area called tartarus. Both of which you have 365 days to explore. Various activities pass time within the day so you must choose how to micromanage the different ones. S-Links are the game's social sim which really does display the games J-rpg personality. Here you'll get to nurture friendships and play out all your puerile dating fantasies with the 'girl next door'. Make no mistake, this game is tongue in cheek at times, with all those familiar anime tropes surfacing whenever you make quirky, unorthodox interactions with the games various inhabitants of Iwatodai. It's quite refreshing to embrace the sillyness though, in comparison to facing one Earth shattering, soap-opera moment to another. I love anime so naturally the S-link thing was a point of biased fondness. It definitely won't be for everyone though. There is an additional fixture here of social parameters. These being acedemics, charm and courage. They are all increased by partaking in certain activities and are a way of making the players interaction with characters and the environment feel like something more weli earned rather than static checkpointing. For instance one characters social link cannot be initiated unless you're basically MENSA material. Better hit the books!
Friendships are divided into 21 different forms of the Arcana. However some are cursory and simply develop when certain mandatory conditions are met. Whether you enjoy this or not, it is an undeniable change of pace from linear pausing scenes for brief discourse in most RPG's. here is where the aforementioned dichotomy comes into play. The incentive for partaking in S.Links is the effect they have on the more action-oriented side of things. Spend a day listening to your otaku friend prattle on in sexual frustration mode? You will gain a rank for that particular 'Arcana' and it will affect the both the number of personas you have acess to for that arcana and also the stats they start with when you produce them. I won't go into too much detail on Persona fusing as that's another article in itself. Needless to say there is a pokemon-esque feel to it; you collect them, you fuse them with others to produce new ones yada yada. The method in which you do so however has it's own unique SMT stamp. You visit a place called the Velvet Room in a clear Twin Peaks moment. Here you are offered tips and advice on how to fuse personas and what influences the outcome. There is also a quirky assistant of sorts who in addition to simply being one of my favourite anime characters, offers a persona compendium which let's you log the records of aquired personas in case you want to purchase them again for a fee or look at thier details. She also offers side quests, although these don't always consist of formulaic, A to B fetching quests. But once again serve to create a gameplay impetus for equal exploration of tarturus and Iwatodai. Such quests as *of course* taking her on dates, buying items from certain places in order to make the player aware of vendors and finally fusing personas in order to gain acess to new ones provided exclusively by her. It's a rewarding sort of quid pro quo between the social and action elements of the game. And action there be a plenty of. Unfortunately though this is where the review digresses into NERD RAGE!!! No. But i'm sure some people will have some fan-bias rebuttal for me when this is done. Either way i feel it needs to be mentioned. Grinding. That obligatory mainstay of any traditional RPG that puts you in between a rock and a random battle encounter is still present. Although the battle encounters technically aren't random here or i'd be doing some evoking of my own.
The combat itself is smooth and enjoyable, you have a party of 4 which all have thier own seperate persona's. As your set is customizable thiers isn't and they will keep the same persona from start to finish although at some point they evolve to reflect the personal growth of the character overcoming some personal obstacle which is a nice touch. You have an ability called rush which can be activated at any time by pressing the triangle button. This puts the battle into auto and consists of your party physically attacking enemies fast in order to end the battle quickly. However characters won't auto-heal or perform any other kind of action so it's not to be relied upon as a way to glaze over while you alleviate the grind.
The AI is non-controllable. This may be jarring for many who are used to pulling the strings of the entire party. However it is liberating in a way to not have to manage all the actions of each member individually. And there is a system that further assists this implementation. You have player commands which set out a guideline for how the AI should behave. This shifts the focus to the main character which- while being contextually sound- also results in you focusing on how to keep everything afloat with your own decisions. However this is carried out of combat too which can be quite annoying for some who are used to the expedience of a party menu. You have to physically interact with members individually in order to acess thier own sub menu. This has been fixed but only in the P3P version. So it's up to you whether this is irritating enough to purchase a new platform/game for if you don't already have the psp/vita.
You ascend a tower called (in typical greek myth name dropping fasion) Tarturus. while here you will encounter shadows, Loot and transporters which serve to bring you back down to the first floor for healing/save/velvet room shenanigans. While exploring you can press the square button to bring up a mini menu, this let's you issue a command to let your squad set out and look for the aforementioned objects. It's pretty cool if you want to sit back and let your party scout out items. Although the command to prioritise shadows is not recommended as party members may end up fighting alone and get decimated, forcing you to track down the body and revive them.
The name of the place actually seems like a sort of cruel joke from the devleopers once you discover it's contents. These are over 220 floors which are technically made up of about 6 different floors that are randomized as you ascend However the various features to offset the tedium just aren't enough. Trawling around in labrynthian, reshuffled textures epitomises the grind into full view. Further confounding is a complimentary sort of 'state' mechanic. This consists of three states, Sick, Tired or great. these states affect both the social and action elements of gameplay in a fairly self explanatory manner. For example being unable to study because you're sick, or taking more damage in battle because you're tired. The implementation is transparent and obvious; to balance the time you spend between tartarus and S links. However for some this may feel restrictive. I felt a little like Sisyphus; rolling my party up the tower only to have to come back down and do it all again the next day. Personally i didn't like having to take timeouts from tartarus ironically because i wanted to get all my grinding done in one go to avoid having to come back unless i needed to. Obviously i'm not alone in this irk as the feature was removed in it's sucsessor P4.
Overall i thouroughly enjoyed Persona 3, the cast of characters, the story, The music well...Great in some places (Burn my dread, velvet room,) grating in others (Dorm music). Either way it's an experience not to be missed. And for the price it's going for at the moment, pretty much a no brainer.
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on 30 March 2017
already played on psp portable version, the exclusive content "The Answer" adds an 30+ hours epilogue.
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on 17 April 2013
The original Persona 3 was already great, but FES is so much better.
You do not need to play the original, FES provides the expanded version of the original game.

Additionally FES has a new game mode that is recommended for players that already finished the game and have experience in playing it. The difficulty of the additional mode is set to HARD by default and is supposed to be a challenge.

Very enjoyable.
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on 3 September 2015
While it can be slightly pricey, this game is totally worth it if the orginal experiance is wanted, Persona 3 Portable is the next best thing, the downloadable Classic in the PSN has the occasional graphical glitch, and even a game breaking glitch later.
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on 21 December 2014
Very happy and great service. Thanks
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on 8 August 2015
Amazing Game!!!
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on 1 September 2014
Great game. Seduced all the women in it.
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