Thursday, September 27, 2012

PaperJello Reviews: Persona 4 Arena

Written by PaperJello
Persona 4 Arena is Atlus’ latest entry in the popular Shin Megami Tensei subseries. Surprisingly though, it is a fighting game, whereas all the others are RPGs. This is also the first Persona game to hit not just Sony's system but the Xbox 360 too. Developed in collaboration with Arc System Works (of Blazblue fame), the game serves as a direct sequel to PS2’s Persona 4 and takes place a few months after a group of high school students (P4’s main cast) solve a series of murders that threatens the sleepy town of Inaba. Arena pits these students against each other in the P-1 Grand Prix, but what at first seems to be a harmless event hosted by one of their friends turns out to be much more than a simple prank.

Due to Arc System’s pedigree of fine anime brawlers, Arena is excellent as a standalone fighter. Features like auto-combos and combo-breaking bursts make the game accessible for novices, but there is still plenty of depth for hardcore players. Stringing together the most effective combos by using a character and their Persona in tandem takes practice, and each character has their own distinct playing style and stats.

Arena also has a fully developed story (complete with voice acting) that does well in catching up series newcomers. However, fans will definitely get the most value out of the many nods to Persona 4, as well as the return of some of the cast of Persona 3. Fans will appreciate bonus content like game art, character portraits, and the choice of English or Japanese language tracks. Story Mode will also appeal to them more than to casual players, who may find the amount of text daunting. Luckily there are many more modes to hold their interest, like Arcade, Challenge, and Score Attack Mode on top of the obligatory Versus and Network play. On top of the pretty visuals, the game also features superb UI in both the menus and during battle, as well as a great soundtrack (including original and remixed versions of existing Persona songs, as well as all new ones) from series composer Shoji Meguro.

Overall, Persona 4 Arena provides fantastic fan service while not alienating newcomers, and it would be a great addition to any Persona or fighting fan’s collection.

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