Persona 4


posted 2/5/2009 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: PS2
The writing also shines through when it comes to the interactions between characters. They are smartly written and the dialog simply works. Each character has a unique story that is fleshed out through the Social Links. By exploring each of these stories you grow in your ability to create personas. Why does Yukiko want to leave her family business? How is Yosuke dealing with the loss of his friends? What is it that keeps your uncle up at night? All of these scenarios play out in an interesting manner and really helps you connect with the characters.

There are also aspects of yourself that you need to work on in order to be able to see these socials links. As the player you are now responsible for taking care of five different statistics. Your levels in knowledge, understanding, expression, diligence, and courage will determine how your social links grow. And there is a variety of things you can do to work on those stats. Part time jobs, school teams, studying, even eating things out of the fridge that look suspect can increase your courage. Even something like eating a rainy day special at the local Chinese food establishment can increase stats. Some of these also give you stuff to decorate your room, like building mech models. The amount of stuff to do is a lot more diverse than P3 and overall feels more fun.

When you're not running odd jobs or trying to increase your social links, there is the world inside the TV to explore. This time you aren't confined to the giant tower of Tartarus, instead you are treated worlds that are unique to each character in the game. From a steamy bath house to a strip club, these places are manifestations of the characters that they represent. The best part of these stages is that they don't feel excessive. In P3 you had over two hundred and fifty floors to clear. In Persona 4 that number is cut in half, creating a far more enjoyable experience when dungeon crawling. Another great improvement is that when you use items to leave the level, you can return to that specific level, rather than the fixed levels you could warp to in P3.

The battle system has received a few refinements as well. First of all, you can control every party member. They start off acting on their own, but they are easily changed to manual control. Your allies can also perform various actions that will benefit the party as their social link grows. Each person has an attack that can do incredible damage, or in some cases remove enemies from the field completely. They can also take mortal blows for the main character, or can assist players who have been knocked down or confused. Another subtle change is now when you get knocked down it doesn't last for a random number of turns, however you can be stunned if attacked while knocked down. Overall the game feels more fair, especially when playing on normal difficulty.

I've spent over one hundred hours on just the first play through of the game and I intend to go back. Every game released in December and January, ignored, Persona 4 was my gaming everything. I was enamored with the small town of Inaba, I had a great time working various odd jobs. I got to know the game's characters inside and out, and through and through I never once got tired of it. I fought countless battles alongside other persona users, saw all their innermost thoughts and fears and weaknesses and watched them grow. And then I finished the game, and I almost immediately went back in to it, but alas, I had work in the morning and it was close to 1 AM already. Even with all that time spent in the game, I still didn't complete everything, and that is why I will go back. Whatever you do, don't miss this game. Aside from some insanely minor issues, and I mean I am really nitpicking when I think of them, Persona 4 really did feel like the perfect game. I really didn't think Persona 3 could be topped, but Atlus, you have proven me so wrong, and I love you for it.

Persona 4 is the pinnacle of PS2 RPGs. No title is going to be able to touch it. No Final Fantasy, no Tales of whatever, not even the much vaunted Shadow Hearts series. If you enjoy RPGs even in the slightest, you must own Persona 4. It is quite possibly, the greatest PS2 title ever made

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