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Avatar ImagePersona 4 Review
By: | January 25th, 2009 | PlayStation 2
PS2

Characters access their respective abilities by way of Personas–different personas confer different  abilities. There are hundreds of Personas in the game, nearly all of which can gain new abilities by either  levelling up, or by fusing with other Personas to create brand-new Personas. Sadly, most of the Persona  models are lifted straight out of Persona 3. Many of the enemy monsters you’ll be facing, too, are copied  directly out of Persona 3. While many of these creatures do look cool, players fresh from Persona 3 may be  a bit disappointed in the lack of new models.

The coolest aspect of Persona 4 is, without a doubt, the social link system. A social link is, essentially, a  relationship between the main character and the various other characters in the game. In the real life, the  player character goes to school, hangs out with friends, and chats up a young wife who’s husband is  working out of the country. There are tons of people to form relationships with, and maintaining and  advancing those relationships occupy the bulk of Persona 4′s gameplay, As relationships become stronger,  so, too, does the player character become stronger. The higher a social link level, the more Personas the  player can create. Party members have social links as well, and developing those relationships results in all  sorts of nifty abilities in battle. When the player character is killed, for example, the game ends. But if you  deepen a part member’s social link sufficiently, that part member can take mortal blows for you. There’s  nothing quite like seeing Yosuke take a hit, crumple lifelessly to the floor, and then see Chie revive him in  the same turn. It lends a nice aura of unpredictability to the battles–something sorely lacking in the turn- based mechanics that plague JRPGs in general.

And So It Begins....

The story of Persona 4 opens with the player character moving to Inaba, to live with his uncle–a police detective whose wife died several years prior. You transfer schools, make some friends… and then people start dying. In a startlingly effective change of pace, the overall story of Persona 4 does not revolve around saving the world. When was the last time any of us have played through an RPG that didn’t culminate in becoming a savior? No, Persona 4 is a low-key, laid-back murder mystery. It’s rife with humor and suspense and that make the game a real pleasure to play through.

The story of Persona 4 opens with the player character moving to Inaba, to live with his uncle–a police detective whose wife died several years prior. You transfer schools, make some friends… and then people start dying. In a startlingly effective change of pace, the overall story of Persona 4 does not revolve around saving the world. When was the last time any of us have played through an RPG that didn’t culminate in becoming a savior? No, Persona 4 is a low-key, laid-back murder mystery. It’s rife with humor and suspense and that make the game a real pleasure to play through.

Look Out!

The game is all about people. Identity. How we perceive ourselves, as individuals, to be–and how other  people perceive us. A good deal of the conflict in Persona 4 revolves around the inability of a person to fully  understand his or herself–and the pain and doubt that stems from that ignorance. The juxtaposition  between who a character really is and what other people think that character is like also plays a big role in  the story–and all of this is reflected thematically in the dungeons. Sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s cool– it’s always embarrassing–the psychological aspect of both the narrative and the level design really strike a  chord. You’ll notice I’m being very careful here not to drop any specifics–mostly, because I treasured every  moment of the game and I don’t want to spoil a single second for you.

You make decisions. There are consequences. The story is compelling. The characters are wholly believable. The dialog is filled with wit and humor and is genuinely funny to watch–and participate in. If you are at all capable of human emotion, I can promise you that by the time you finish playing Persona 4, you will have fallen in love with at least one character. I don’t mean romantically, of course–though your player character can form romantic relationships with many, many different girls in the game (all of which are very tastefully handled)–I mean you’ll love them so much that when you get to the end of the game, you will not want to leave them.

But, really, you won’t fall in love with the characters–you’ll fall in love with the people of Persona 4. You’re awkward, but dedicated father, your little sister–even that guy in the grade below you who’s constantly defending his sexuality–they’ll stop being characters and become people.  People you know, people you like, people you will genuinely miss.

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  1. Very nice, lengthy review. I haven’ played Persona since 2, but I definitely want to start catching up.

  2. Yea I was never really into them, until you guys have done nothing but talk about how great this game is.

  3. I’ve never played a Persona either but after the amazing hype and rave reviews from this game makes me really want to buy it. I might have to hook up the PS2 one last time.

  4. nice lengthy review, nice work and thanks!

  5. ….

    Albeit with far more verbosity than most people (even myself) can handle…..

  6. Do you have MSN at least? :)

  7. Nah. No IMing at all. I’m always doing a bunch of stuff at once, and am never on the comp. long enough to sustain chatting.

  8. Haha Fox, not only do you have a cool name, but a keen sense of journalism. I love your writing style, and I’d like to talk to you more.

    One question: Are you typically into oldschool JRPGS?

  9. I’m into *all* RPGs.

    So, yeah, I one of six people who picked up Ar Tonelico 2 last week.

  10. Very very nice reviews. Possibly the longest review we have. haha.
    and Ricky, probably best to keep this kind of discussion to the forum.

  11. avatar Akab

    Dungeons are actually random . they just made them simpler in designs and less numerous

  12. avatar Aguro

    I get exactly what you’re saying. I never felt anything when Aerith died in FF7, but the events on December 3rd in P4 had a tear roll down my cheek.

  13. avatar Anon

    You mention an option to switch between Japanese and English voices: where in the game are you able to do this? Other sources say that the Japanese audio track was removed for the US release, and I myself am unable to find any way to enable it?

  14. avatar Buy oem software online

    S3SDxH Yeah, now it’s clear !… And firstly I did not understand very much where there was the link with the title itself !!…

  15. avatar Daniel Kulkarni

    Huh? Since when did the localized game include the original Japanese voice acting?

  16. avatar Nounou

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  17. avatar Sylvia

    hmm im really bored with the games on my ps3 im trinyg to get saints row 3 downloaded from someone but nobody is nice if anyone would PLEASE fileshare i promise i wont hack or anything i just got to get the download and im done so? please anyone .

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