Game Review: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

Posted: March 9, 2012 in Games
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This is the first game review of this site since I decided to implement reviews onto here. Big stuff. It only seemed right to start with my favourite game of all time. I will be objective though. So let’s crack on.

Persona 3 is part of the Shin Megami Tensei’s Persona series. What sets the Persona series apart from the rest of SMT’s stuff is that you and all the playable characters wield “Personas” that they can summon at will. Characters like; Odin, Lucifer, Chimeras, Oberon. There are tons, and they keep adding more. They are split into different sections called Arcana. Sections like Emperor, Fool, Chariot, etc. Persona 3 is set in Japan, strangely enough, revolving about a group of students in Gekkoukan High School who can use Personas and fight creatures called “Shadows” inside a tower called Tartarus. This game has three incarnations; The standard edition on PS2, the FES edition on PS2 or P3P (Persona 3 Portable) on the PSP. The later editions have extra content that I will go over.

Gameplay 7/10

There is two different styles of gameplay in this game. Outside of Tartarus the game plays in a sort of Sims style. You have direct control of the Protagonist, either by controlling him onscreen on either PS2 versions or by a cursor on the PSP version, and you take him around town doing activities or building up your relationships with NPC’s. The gameplay is quite deep. You have three different stats outside Tartarus; Academics, Charm and Courage. You build these up by doing various things; studying, playing games weirdly enough, singing or even eating. In P3P they added part-time jobs so you can earn points and money, albeit at a slower rate. Can’t have everything. These stats give you access to new Social Links when you get them up to a certain level, and Academics are important as they help you when you take tests in school. You can also increase your relationship with people, called Social Links. There is one person for each Arcana, and the high social links give Personas you create extra experience when they are made. The gameplay passes in a day-to-day system that you follow using the calendar, and people are only around on certain days. Not everyone is free all the time. unfortunately, this bit of the gameplay can get really tedious and dull, hence the lowish gameplay score.

Inside Tartarus the gameplay switches to a dungeon exploring system. You and your party go around exploring the tower from Floor 1 to the top, Floor 200 and odd. You collect treasure and kill shadows. Every so often you have to fight mini-bosses which can be quite challenging if you arent safe. Each of your characters have different weaknesses and on the lower floor the enemies will knock seven shades of shit out of you is you are not fully ready. The battle system is turn based. You can attack with your weapon, summon your Persona to use magic or attack, use items and so on. In the PS2 versions your party members are uncontrollable and do whatever they like. This can be frustrating at times if you need healing and they ignore you. To counteract this you can change their tactical settings so you at least have some control. In P3P they let you control them fully if you want, so that’s good. You get more Personas by fusing your existing Personas in the Velvet Room, or via “Shuffle Time”, a thing that sometimes appear after battle if you do well enough where you can get either weapons, money or a new Persona. There is a fatigue system in Tartarus that can get annoying. Youre characters will get Tired if they fight enough, and they will miss more and take more damage. After you leave the tower they won’t go back with you for a few days whilst they recover. In P3P however they removed the feature where your characters get tired in battle, so you can explore till you get bored.

Every full moon on the game you undertake special operation where you fight the games proper bosses and progress the story. They start off easy enough so you can get used to it. Not much else I can say about that without adding spoilers. So yeah, the gameplay can be good, but the Sim style system can be really boring after a while, and you will be doing it a lot.

Characters 10/10

The game has 8 different characters, excluding the protagonist, that you can put into your party. So there is no lack of choice when you are putting your party together. Each has different strengths, weaknesses and skills so there will be a party for everyone. All of them have distinctive personalities. The writers and designers really outdone themselves I think. They are so deep and develop so well throughout the story, you feel like they could actually be real. In P3P you get to pick between a male or female Protagonist. Is you pick the Female one then the members of SEES, the group of students you play, have social links for you to do, and they develop even more. If you only have the standard one, FES or just pick a male character then only the females have social links. The guy is a silent player. There is a plethora of NPC’s for you to talk to and go through their social links, and even they are deep and interesting. You will love some and hate some, but it is safe to say the cast of 30 or plus characters are truly outstanding. All of the main characters have voice acting for scenes and battle, and I like that. Gives the characters more depth. If only they did it for the NPCs.

Graphics 10/10

The graphics of the games are distinctively anime. So if you like that type of art then you will love it, I do. In the PS2 versions of the game they had fully animated cut scenes, which where incredible to me. In P3P they got rid of the cut scenes sadly, and replaced them with a novel based experience. A picture and text. Not as good but does the job. So anime sums up the graphics of the game. Great for those of us who like this style, bad for those who don’t.

Sound 8/10

The music on the game is quite captivating. On FES the opening song is amazing. They got a band called Lotus Juice to make a song for the opening of FES edition, it is just incredible. I downloaded it I loved it that much. Around town it has one song that loops, it can get quite annoying after a while which is why the sound isn’t higher on the score, or on my TV after a while.

Overall 7/10

No matter how much I love this game. It only warants between a six or an eight. If you like it enough you will play it constantly, but the repetitiveness of the gameplay will drive less committed gamers crazy. I would recommend it to everyone though. The FES edition has an extra game mode after the main one, but I didnt not like it that much. The large collection of Personas and the tactical nature keep the battle system fresh no matter how long you fight for. The characters truly are amazing though, it is a big thing in Persona 3. So yes, by this, rent it, steal it. Just play it. That is my first review. Hope you like it.

(P.S. I don’t condone stealing. Don’t steal the game.)

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