Monday, January 26, 2009

Persona 4 (2008) Atlus Games PS2

A few weeks ago, I literally dusted off my PS2 after picking up a copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. I debated about even purchasing Persona 4 simply because it wasn't for the 360. Stupid, I know. The large number of glowing reviews swayed me though and I'm glad I bought Persona 4.

The long and short of it - Persona 4 is one of the best JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) I have played in ages. Yes, even better than Fallout 3. If you still own a PS2 I suggest picking up this game ASAP.

The game takes place in modern day Japan. The plot revolves around the main character - a high school transfer student moving from the big city to a small town - and his group of new friends and family attempting to solve a series of grisly murders. Of course this is the bare bones and since it's an insane JRPG the game goes sideways pretty much from the get go. Granted there's no tentacle porn or fan service or assorted naughtiness but there are: an alternate dimension filled with Shadow monsters, "Persona" you can summon to fight for you, some weird characters, and references to Japanese culture that may leave some players confused.

All the elements of game play are solid. Menus are easy to navigate. Combat can be tricky at times but if you use your noggin and balance your skills it gets much easier. The balance between exploring/detective work/building friendships/and going to high school is a little tough to get a grip on early on but manageable.

For me there is one major element that makes Persona 4 such a compelling play for me - you ready? - the story. Yes, Persona 4 has a compelling story filled with characters that I ended up - shock and awe - caring about. Even characters I thought were useless or pointless had great story lines that developed. Example: The main character is staying with his uncle Dojima and his daughter Nanako. Dojima is the head detective working on the crimes happening in town. Nanako is a little girl who basically runs the household while Dad is constantly at work. At first she's kind of an annoying, pathetic character and Dojima is pretty much a jerk. As the story progresses you learn more about them, their relationship, what happened to Nanako's mother, and I ended up liking both characters. A lot. Those are only two out of a huge cast of characters.

Hell, I like the story and characters so much that I got one ending - the writers took a page from the Joss Whedon school of depressing twist the knife endings - and refused to end the story on that note and immediately started a new game.

Another reason why Persona 4 is awesome: starting a new game/continuing from the same file allows you to keep money, previously levelled stats, levelled Persona, and some storyline related items.

I could yabber on about Persona 4 but I recommend picking it up if you're looking for a game that isn't a FPS or blow shit up or an easy 360 forty hour RPG.

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