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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Review

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Developer: Atlus Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: December 9, 2008 Available On: PS2

There aren’t many RPGs that get my attention. Especially Japanese made RPGs. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is one of them. It’s purely Japanese in every sense. If the name doesn’t tip you off, the art direction, anime styled cut scenes and crazy storyline definitely will. I guess I am more fascinated by Persona 4 than anything. Not only is it a fun game to play, it is a delightful cultural getaway that all Western gamers should try.

Honestly, I don’t know how they came up with the story for Persona 4, but I’m not sure I want to know either. You play as a high school student who goes to live with his uncle and cousin while his parents are busy with work. Your uncle is a detective and isn’t home a lot, leaving the cooking to his daughter. You come from a big city but now live in a small town. As the new kid in school you draw some attention and make friends rather fast.

One of your first experiences in the town of Inaba is a murder of a television news reporter who it was revealed had an affair with a member of the city council. The police force is stumped and have no clues to lead up on. More disappearances and murders take place, causing a panic in the quiet town. To make matters stranger, the victims appear on the so-called “Midnight Channel”. When he touches his tv screen, he notices that he can fit his hand in.

This television world is where the murders are taking place. To solve them and save the victims before it is too late, the character and his friends must enter the television set before they are murdered. One of the key elements of Persona 4 is the weather system, which dictates how much time you have to save someone. After it rains and the skies clear, the town tends to get foggy. This is when the bodies show up, so you and your friends have to get inside of the television before this happens. It adds an extra element of strategy to the way you go about handling your day.

To that effect there is a great deal of time management involved. You will have to attend school each day (except on Sundays and holidays) and the evening is always spent at home. That gives you a few hours during the day to do some exploration, join a club at your school or participate in sporting events. These all add to the experience of your character and affect gameplay. For instance, if your “understanding” level is too low, you may not be able to use certain choices during conversations.

As far as the fighting system goes, this is relatively standard fare. Each character in your party has a “persona” that will do much of the attacking. You can also purchase weapons, items and armor. You have a number of different attacks to choose from using your “persona”, as well as the ability to heal, guard and so on. Your personas will level up and gain new abilities as the same way your characters will. Items can be used during battle to restore health to yourself or other party members, restore magic points and retreat from battle.

The graphics look dated, even when they are upscaled on the PS3. That said, this is a PS2 game and the system is going on ten years old. While I have certainly seen better looking PS2 games, it’s not the worst I have seen, either. There is a great deal of jagged edges during gameplay, although the character models are all fairly well done. The most impressive visual aspect of the game is without a doubt the art direction and the anime styled cut scenes that they have included.

The PS2 was supposed to be dead and Atlus proved us all wrong. Not being much of an RPG fan, I was highly impressed with Persona 4. It is not every day that I come across an RPG that is both accessible and relatively deep. The most compelling element of the whole game is the storyline. You are going to be sucked in for dozens of hours trying to solve the murder mysteries. Atlus throws some controversial social topics in there as well, dealing with things such as sexuality. I just really enjoyed this game. I highly recommend that you pick it up and dust off your PS2 for one last time.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9.1
Written by Kyle Write a User Review