Persona 4 Arena Review

Persona 4 Arena Review

When Persona 4 Arena was announced, as a fan it was either the game of dreams or the game of nightmares. The story from Persona 4 would continue in a fighting game developed by Arc System Works and it would even throw characters from Persona 3 into the mix. Its goal would be to please fans of fighting games with the deep gameplay, but also to please RPG fans with the 40+ hour story mode. It's a lot to live up to, but fortunately for everyone Persona 4 Arena approaches a pretty ridiculous game concept with quite a bit of love and fine detail.

The story of Persona 4 Arena takes place after the events of Persona 4 during Golden Week. You get to play as different characters from the RPG's and see different 'what if' scenarios. Each character has its own story mode, as the game slowly unravels more about the overall story and explains why everyone is fighting and who Labrys is. This all leads to finding out the game's “True Ending”, which is what may leave many fans feeling split. Still if you have the time to commit to it, the characters alone make it worth it playing through.

The story mode gets some things right, with great voice work by most of the original voice actors. However, on the opposite side of the fence, with so much spoken dialogue in the game, the text less thoughts of each character in their story mode are downright boring. It makes you wonder why the character has to think about picking up the phone for three pages of text before they say something. The dialogue is well written, but not good enough to make you want to sit for 15 minutes until a single match against an easy AI opponent.

The story is still enjoyable, even with all the problems in it. It’s too bad that the developers didn’t stream line the way they present the story. Having a 40+ hour story is great, if it's a worthwhile experience, but when there's a ton of filler it doesn't seem like such a stat to boast about. Still many people may end up skipping this mode entirely just based on the fact that you need to devote a lot of time and don’t get much out of it unless you are a diehard fan who is looking for any new story.

Gameplay is where the game shines. The team over at Arc System Works really did a great job making a system that was deep enough for hardcore fans, yet simple enough for new people to just pick up and learn. This is a big plus since sometimes you may really like a certain fighting game, but if it's complex your friends may be turned off from playing.

Persona 4 Arena is a four-button fighter, so all attacks are done by pressing A, B, C, and D. The attacks are split between weak and strong attacks by yourself or Persona. Tio stop you abusing the power of your Persona, Arc System Works implemented a system that locks the Persona's usage after getting hit/interrupted four times in a row. After that happens you are stuck with no one besides yourself until your Persona comes back, adding a fairly interesting element of strategy to attacking. The game has tried to port over as many of the nuances from the RPG as possible, with the ability to add status effects, evade, witness all out attacks, air switches, and more. It makes this feel like almost every system the game needed was thrown in there. While the auto combo is still being debated in the community, new players should feel like it is a friendly mechanic.


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