Once your day is about to come to a close, it’s time to go back to the dorm, where you and the other students can decide if tonight is a good night to explore Tartarus. The shape-shifting dungeon will never take the same shape, and it’s a massive place to explore, that is ever growing as the story progresses. Shadows wander the halls of Tartarus hoping to impede your progress and bring your genocidal ways against their brethren to a halt. That is pretty much the only area where battle takes place. Outside of nights when the moon is full, that’s when the truly bizarre stuff comes out to play. Though the Dark Hour does take its toll on the human body, after a while your party members will grow tired and can even become sick from spending too much time in Tartarus, and your hero is also susceptible to this condition so watch out.
Battles play out in a turn based fashion. Though you only control the main character. The other members of your party operate on a fairly functional and customizable AI. You can tell them how you want them to attack, or let the computer decide the best course of action. Though, say for instance you want to exploit an enemy weakness and knock them down; there is a tactic for that you can assign to a member of your party. Or if you want them to stand down and focus on healing, they can do that with a surprising proficiency. The only place where this gets mucked up is in the main character’s death. If you aren’t careful, it is very easy to walk in to a fight unprepared and wind up on the losing side. Once the main character has been trounced in battle, that’s it, GAME OVER. Surprisingly harsh, but at the same time, you have the power to keep it from happening. Keep your HP and your guard up at all times. If there happens to be a way that this is avoidable, either through skills or assigning items to your team members please disregard this as I have no idea how to do it, and I didn’t get a manual with my review copy. So take what I say with a grain of salt.
So if I’ve gone this far without discussing the graphics there must be something here that isn’t so positive. For the most part, the game uses very simple character models, and still shots when conveying dialogue. But the game is very stylish, from its menu presentation to its locales that you can explore. Everything is vibrant and colorful, but then you get to the Dark Hour and you see the drab contrast to it. So while it is simple, it has no negative or positive bearing on the game as a whole. At the very least the character models look good, not great like Final Fantasy XII or anything like that, but they have their own certain charms. Couple that with the amazing artwork for all the characters and monsters, and you can really see that presentation of the graphics is where a lot of the effort was placed.
Music is also a style over substance thing. There is a lot of music that cross genres of jazz and rock and techno, and some of them are a little grating, and some of them are straight up awesome. One piece that sticks with me is the music from the school and the key boss battles that occur during full moons. A third striking piece has to be the dorm music which features some samples of old rap recordings over a funky jazz piece. If you’re picking this game up you are also getting a soundtrack and I highly recommend listening to it at least once.
So while I have gripes about the less than flashy graphics for such a late generation PS2 game, and difficulty that at times will turn you off. Believe me, nothing sucks worse than to be rolling along and then get steamrolled by an enemy that gets lucky on a critical strike and brings your adventure to an abrupt halt. Persona 3 is one of the most polished and enjoyable PS2 titles I have ever had the joy of playing and reviewing. It’s one of those games I aspire to make as I sit and dream from my armchair developer’s cradling seat. Bravo Atlus. Amidst delays for just the art book, rabid fans crying for the lack a Japanese voice track and content that Japan had to actually pay for because it was an expansion disc, and dealing with what would be some very questionable content, you present to us what has to be one of the best RPGs of the PS2’s life span.
More On:Persona 3
Companies: Atlus Inc
One of the most polished and enjoyable PS2 titles I have ever played. Congrats to Atlus for another quality title.
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