Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - PS2 - Review
Sent to live with his uncle in the spring month of April, the silent protagonist of Persona 4 is in a world of trouble as the community of Inaba witnesses crazy murders that end with the victims being hanged from high places. In search for the perpetrator, the protagonist and his cohorts find a gateway to another world where they encounter their powerful Personas that are also tied to their souls. Players looking for a unique dark-themed RPG will find it within Persona 4’s diabolical world full of insane characters and enemies.
Persona 4 isn’t without its clichés. The protagonist’s Persona wields a huge sword and is dressed in a large strapped black coat, something that’s seen in many RPGs nowadays. Tagging along are classmates who have their own Personas such as Chie Satonaka’s Tomoe and Yosuke Hanamura’s Jiraiya. Tomoe has a head like Pyramidhead from Silent Hill though she’s clad in all yellow. Jiraiya, like many of the other Personas, is tall and skinny while also being tightly wrapped in white leather and has a red scarf such as Hotsuma from Shinobi on the PlayStation 2. Even with these similarities to other eastern franchises, Persona 4 is still vastly clever in design in comparison to recent role-playing titles.
One thing that especially stands out about Persona 4 is the difficulty level. There are three difficulty levels to choose from: beginner, normal, and expert. The normal difficulty level, while not extremely hard, provides a heaping amount of challenges. If you’re familiar with the Persona then the normal difficulty level will be fine starting point. But if you’ve never played the any of the past titles then the beginning level is an appropriate start due to it allows you have ten chances to continue on with your game after death.
Each day of the characters lives has events to schedule such going to school, joining clubs, meeting new people to form Social Links and much more. While in school, professors will ask you questions and if you answer them correctly, your stats will increase. With Social Links, the closer you become to your new-found friends, the higher the rank you’ll increase to gain bonus experience points. The game world isn’t exactly enormous, but there are tons of objectives to accomplish so you’re time with Persona 4 won’t be a short one.
If you’ve played Persona 3, then you’ll find it eerily similar even though the setting has changed from a city to the country side. The storyline of Persona 4 occurs 14 months after the third iteration and still begs you to attend classes and fight demons at night. Using the same engine from Persona 3, there are a few significant changes such as five stats rather than three including strength, magic, endurance, agility and luck.
If you grow tired of your personal Persona, you can obtain a new one by winning a battle or performing fusion. There are exceptions to this rule since you aren’t able to obtain a Persona of a higher level than the protagonist unless through a fusion with a Social Link. It’s always a pleasant time when your Persona gains new skills to use in battle. Creating a more powerful Persona is beyond the best attribute of Persona 4 but then again, I was always fond of creating new monsters in the Monster Rancher series so it’s natural that Persona 4 would be an attractive RPG.
The visual department hasn’t exceedingly changed, but that doesn’t remove the fact that it’s one of the better looking RPGs on the PlayStation 2. The art is deviously interesting with an exotic look celebrating sinister themes. On top of the peculiar artwork, the soundtrack is superb. From top to bottom, the soundtrack is outstanding but if one track stood out, the ending theme was hands down the best. Overall, the work by composers Shoji Meguro (Trauma Center: Second Opinion) and Atsushi Kitajoh (Trauma Center: New Blood) was excellent.
If it had to be said, Persona 4 is among the best RPGs on the PlayStation 2 in many years. The overall package is fantastic with a mysterious storyline – which is well put together – and an incredible technical department due to the soundtrack. I do hope that the same dedication is put into the next-generation of consoles when the developers finally make the leap since Japanese-oriented RPGs look to be on the decline the past few years if you exclude the PlayStation 2.
If you’ve never played Persona 3, then it’ll be overwhelmingly fresh entry to the RPG genre. If you’ve actually played Persona 3, then there have been more than enough changes to warrant a revisit through the universe of Persona. It’s a satisfying RPG that continues to prove that it’s one of the better franchises in the genre.
It won’t take away your breath, but the graphics get the job done with the PS2 on its last leg.
Not a single soul should go without hearing the soundtrack of Persona 4 before the end of 2008.
Persona 4 isn't like Microsoft's Blue Dragon -- which was increasingly easy for its difficulty level upon the launch of the title -- rather Atlus has put together a tough RPG to push through.
There’s no other RPG like it on the market. Dark and gloomy, the storyline pulls you in and holds you into the end.
One of the top five RPGs of 2008, Persona 4 provides a distinctive experience that isn’t found in any other RPG this year. Personally, I can’t wait to see Atlus move onto the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with their titles in the future – gorgeous environments, bigger worlds, and shorter loading times are items on my Christmas wish list for the Persona franchise.