29 May 2010

Persona 3 & 4 - Playstation 2

It was a dark time when I realized Playstation 2 games were slowly starting to die out. Xbox 360 was the superior console and Playstation 3 was trying to climb its way up the ladder of respect in the gaming world. Less was being released on the PS2, and it was the only console I had. I didn’t have the money to buy anything else, so I kept my eyes open for new releases on the PS2 while I still could. The game Persona 3 caught my eye, but I never got around to buying it for myself. I heard positive things about the second game, but never played it myself. Eventually my birthday came around and my boyfriend bought it for me.
My GPA my sophomore year would probably be a lot higher if I never played this game. Gamers are always worried that they’ll buy a game and it won’t be worth the money. Well everyone, Persona 3 is worth the money. I have about 80+ hours invested into this game and I have yet to beat it (I’m at the end of the game though). Everything about this game caught my attention. It kept me playing for many, many hours.
It’s always easier to be interested in something that you can relate to. We play games and realize that we never do the things that our heroes seem to do. We don’t have awesome magical super powers and we can’t wield a blade and smite thousands of enemies. Also, I tend to notice that these heroes never do human things. They never stop to eat, drink, or use the bathroom. They never just live life, everything focuses on the journey and the goal to defeat whatever villain is trying to mess up/conquer/destroy something.
Persona 3 was different. I started the day, named my character, and realized I was controlling a young man who actually was going to high school. The game goes from day to day. There was no way to be confused of the day or time, like in many other games. The date and time of day is listed in the corner of the screen. The characters are introduced and I found myself going to school every day. The teachers were even asking me questions, and I had to pick an answer. I was living the life of an average teenager with a slight twist. They did get the super powers. They did fight to protect their world. They did this but they also continued to live their lives. This alone separates Persona 3 from most other video games.
You were a teenager, and you had to have a social life. This was definitely one of the best parts of the game. Instead of constantly fighting the shadows and ridding the world of the evil that filled the city during the midnight hour, you were able to choose to hang out with friends. The hero would meet a new person and befriend them, causing a new social link to be formed. The social links didn’t just make your character cool though. These links helped your character grow stronger and create more powerful persona’s to help out when it was time to battle. You met lots of people, experienced their stories, and you choose how you were going to act with these friends. No one friend was alike. The hero even had to discover love; and also had to keep it all on the down-low since every female social link eventually became your love interest. He’s quite the stud throughout the game.
Good voice acting, to me, is crucial. I can get through a game with bad voice acting, but I definitely enjoy it a lot less. I feel if the characters are going to speak in a game, they should do it right. Actors for movies and shows are hired because they can be other people while making it look and sound like it really is their life. The actors who portray different characters in games should do the same. Persona 3 goes above and beyond in this category. I would have to say that this game has some of the best voice acting I have ever heard. It all sounds natural. The characters are having conversation and it sounds real. If a person in another room didn’t know that I was playing my PS2, they assumed I was watching TV. This made me fall in love with the game even more. The game had strong characters and strong actors who were able to play their character well. I was able to listen and feel like I was truly a part of the team’s conversation.
I was definitely impressed with what Persona 3 had to offer, but there were still some flaws. You only had control over the hero’s actions even though you could have up to four people in your team. The computer players didn’t always make the smartest choices. This left me frustrated and fixing the mistakes that another character made that could have easily been avoided. Also the characters were in high school, but you never would guess that with the way a lot of them acted. Most of the characters seemed far too mature for their age. Only Junpei acts like a kid his age. Also, the hero lacked any personality. This is hard to accomplish with a mostly silent character, but it is not impossible. Also, most of the fighting happened in one very, very, very large tower. There was very little variety when it came to the fighting environments and it got pretty boring exploring the same kind of place constantly.
As I came to the end of the game and got stuck on the worst boss I’ve ever fought in a video game, Persona 4 was released. Every problem I had with the third game vanished within this next installment of the Persona series. The game starts with a murder mystery and slowly twists into something a little odd, but absolutely amazing. The game is set up in the same way Persona 3 is, you live your life day to day and go through the typical life of a teenage boy. This time though, it was absolutely believable. These were teenagers going through the same things that real teenagers experience every day, minus jumping through a TV into a world that shows a person’s deepest secrets and desires.
Persona 3 was amazing, but Persona 4 was somehow able to be even better. I honestly had not one little problem with this entire game. The plot kept you interested and was never once boring. I always appreciate a game that can get my emotions going. I laughed out loud in reaction to many different parts of the game. I actually broke down into tears during several different parts of the game as well. The characters were amazing and there was a great variety within them. No two characters were even slightly the same. These characters were round and grew into amazing people throughout the course of the 80+ hours devoted to this game.
You are given the option to control the characters on your team, but I rarely did this because the computer seemed to be a lot smarter in this game. Everything I would be upset about in Persona 3 was fixed when I battled in this game. I thought I would have to take advantage of controlling my party, but I was pleasantly surprised when I rarely had to. Every character had their own unique setting and story within the TV world. The hero was silent again, but he had character. I was much more pleased with this hero than the last one I played. The social links were all very unique and kept things interesting between the hero the company he kept. I even befriended an older, sexy nurse who seduces the hero. You also have the option to fool around with her. You can’t get bored when there are those kinds of options within a game. Don’t worry; you can keep the hero innocent as well.
Persona 4 is now one of my favorite games. Persona 3 was great, but I can’t help but give my loyalty to the youngest player in the series. I highly suggest adding these games to your collections. You won't be disappointed.
I think everyone should waste as much of their lives as I did in exchange for two great gaming experiences.
By Heather Aug