If you've never lost yourself in the world of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, you're missing out on one of the most unique RPG franchises available. The series' games take place in modern-day (or near-future) Japan, and instead of being medieval knights and wizards, you play as high school teens with the ability to summon "Personas" to aid them in the battle against evil. Last year's somewhat controversial Persona 3 and Persona 3: FES were role-playing hits on the aging PlayStation 2 hardware, both being praised for throwing convention out the window, often called something like "the game where the kids shoot themselves in the head."
Atlus is back with their one-of-a-kind RPG formula, now applied to a new story and setting in Persona 4. While its predecessor was widely received as a success, fans were vocal about their concerns and suggestions with this game. Atlus had an opportunity to take these concerns and suggestions and create a fresh new title. The good news is that it definitely seems like Atlus paid attention. The result is an RPG even more unique and enjoyable than Persona 3.
Persona 4 (PS2)
Persona 4 moves away from the bustling portside city setting of its predecessor and into the country. The next chapter is set in a rural Japanese town called Inaba, where everyone knows everyone else, and nothing really exciting happens... yet. You become the nameless protagonist, the new kid in town. You're staying with your police detective uncle and his daughter for the year, taking a break from the big city. Just as you begin to get settled in your new surroundings, the sleepy town makes national headlines when a celebrity is found murdered there. Your life takes a turn for the weird when you find yourself sucked into a television screen, entering another dimension completely.
The star here is the fantastic soundtrack by Shoji Meguro, probably his best Persona-series soundtrack yet. Gone (mostly) are the silly hip-hop tunes and mumbly-mouthed raps. They've been replaced by slick J-pop-ish melodies and catchy beat-based grooves. The battle song is still great, and I've heard it hundreds of times now. Add in some fun jingles and a killer introduction/theme song, and you'll be humming and dancing along the whole time.
Atlus managed to combine the best of what already worked well with fresh new ideas and tweaks, and the end result is a fantastic role-playing game -- definitely a shoo-in for RPG of the year. Unless you dislike the genre, do not, under any circumstances, miss Persona 4.
Score: 10 -- Flawless Victory (10s are as close to perfect as you will get in a genre or on a platform. Pure, untarnished videogame ecstasy.)
THE VERDICT - Persona 4
Reviewed by Dale North
|12:00 PM on 07.12.2011|
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