Persona 3: FES (because screw GTA IV reviews)

Ok, before starting this review proper, I have to say that this is just a little ridiculous--I go onto the review boards and I see at least two GTA reviews posted within a few minutes of Yahtzee doing his. This is like...Yahtzee Syndrome or something. Seriously, we already have HAD tons of GTA reviews, and now he does one, and now we will have tons more! Think for yourselves!

This ties into another rant--people reviewing Yahtzee. I've seen two or three of these--not counting the Trilby Art of Theft review on Youtube--and I want to make a point of saying that these aren't clever. Really, you are writing a subjective opinion about another person's subjective opinion. No. That is silly. Stop it, you are not being clever, you are being irritating and also stupid.

That said, review.

---

Persona 3 was the best RPG of 2007, hands down. Sure, you might try to rally behind Mass Effect, but this is because you are stupid. Persona 3 was a wonderfully quirky blend of contemporary settings mixed with the occult, anime cliches, high difficulty and more content than a bag of Chex Mix. Throw in a day-to-day, dating-sim esque "Social Links" and you have the strangest hodge-podge of gameplay elements ever to combine themselves--much in the manner of Voltron--into something great and powerful.

Persona 3 stars you--the guy. Nameless, voiceless (well, actually, he has a few speaking parts in battles) dude. Emo McHerosan. Minato Suza-something or another. Silent Protagonist. He's your dude, and he comes to the city where the game takes place to transfer into Gekkokan High. Upon arriving there, weird shit starts happening, monsters start attacking people, and he summons a Greek Poet out of his head to raise some hell. The story then focuses on a team of ever-growing high school students, their dog, some middle schooler, and their robot best friend as they join forces to save the human race!

The premise starts normal enough and quickly grows more and more ridiculous, but everything makes sense in the context of the game, which is in large part owed to the excellent translation and the superb writing. Seriously, as a writer myself, I often have to choke back the bile that threatens to leap out of my throat when I read the dialog in some games--or, if not the dialog, just the inane story progression. Persona 3, fortunately, has an excellent team of writers behind it--like most Shin Megami Tensei games do.

The Shin Megami Tensei "series" is the overarching moniker for a series of games, called Shin Megami Tensei, and their spin-offs, the most prominent being Devil Summoner (in japan at least) and Persona. The name Persona is what the game calls the strange demons your characters summon from their subconcious to cast magic spells and the like. The main character (Silent O'Nospeak) has the unique ability to use multiple Personas and switch them out in battle, lending him limitless customizability. The other characters use only one Persona, so they have only one static weakness and strength, whereas Inospeaka Anyenglisha has a weakness that changes depending on which Persona he current has equipped, and this is the key component of the game's battle system.

Battles are basic turn-based affairs, with a few twists: first, you only control your main character. You can never directly control any of your other characters, which can be annoying if you are playing on Hard mode and you have a specific strategy and then some GOD DAMN BITCH screws it up and gets you all killed but oh well, you run with it. Almost every enemy has a weakness, and there are ten different types of attacks: slash, strike, pierce, fire, ice, lightning, wind, death, light and Almighty that can be a weakness or a strength. In battle you have up to four combatants and then another character who is your monitor--she can analyze enemies and tell you their weakness, though it takes a few turns. This means that, when facing a new enemy, you either try to guess their weakness and hope you are right, or you hold back while she analyzes them and let them take potshots at you. It works out surprisingly well, and when you successfully attack an enemy's weakness, you knock the enemy down and get an extra attack. If you knock down all teh enemies, you can combine your forces and use an "All Out Attack" which does big damage to everybody and is usually sufficient to wipe out regular random encounters.

Bosses follow the same rules, but often involve clever and innovative thinking and strategy to defeat, some having no weaknesses, some having one difficult to exploit weakness. This means that boss battles range from being fairly easy to mercilessly hard, and erring on the side of the merciless. The game can be pretty difficult--the Shin Megami series is quite famous for that--and it encourages thinking and strategy to just blunt "attack everybody" mentalities that are prevalent in easier RPGs. You'll often want to think two steps ahead, especially when fusing your Persona, thinking "What skills do I need" and "what skills can I sacrifice" and "How important is being strong against fire?". The system can be addicting, and you'll often want to spend a lot of time roaming through the randomly generating floors of the game's simple, massive dungeon (Tartarus) killing bad guys, gathering exp and levels to get new Personas on a never-ending scavenger hunt for the ultimate power.

However, there's a time constraint. You have a whole year to beat the game, and time's constant march is a theme that is prevalent in story and gameplay. To get the best Personas, and to boost the power of the ones you have, you'll want to form "Social Links"--friendships with twenty different colorful characters from your school and your town. Building this friendships allows you to build better Personas, get higher level ones from fusions, and they are also--surprisingly--a lot of fun. Most of the characters are genuinely interesting, and their stories range from tragic to heartwarming, sad to funny, and the higher you level your social links, the more interesting the stories become--and the more social links become available.

In addition to building stats like strength and magic and HP, there are also three other stats, familiar to dating sim fans (you sick, disgusting people that you are)--Academics, Charm, and Courage. Outside of school there are different places you can go to level up each of these three things, and the higher they are, the more stuff you can do--there are three Social Links that respectively require a maxed out Academics, Charm and Courage, as well as other things, like sidequest "requests" given by a mysterious woman who helps you fuse persona, that require your stats to be at certain levels.

The catch is, everything takes time. If you spend an afternoon going out with a girl and an evening raising your courage by singing Karaoke, you won't be able to level in Tartarus. However, if you level in Tartarus, you won't be able to go out at night and raise your charm drinking coffee, or studying for the big exam (and there are exams). You have to manage your time and figure out what needs to be done, and in that respect, it's a lot like actual, real life school. It's a strange take on the RPG formula, but the result is engrossing, satisfying and wonderous.

The game is not without its flaws--the soundtrack is genuinely "meh", with bizarre Japanese hip-hop songs peppered with drums and weird disco beats in place of the more melancholy hard rock tracks of, say, Digital Devil Saga--another game in the Shin Megami Tensei moniker.

This game is called Persona 3 FES because it is a director's cut of the original Persona 3, which mostly just means a lot of extra scenes, some new places to go to, twenty three new Personas, and a miniature sequel. Yes, there's a thirty-hour NEW segment that takes place after where the main game in Persona 3 ended that continues to the story to its conclusion, and while I haven't beaten this new section (called the Answer) it's basically a hard-core player zone for people who just can't get enough of P3.

So, what else can I really say? The story, the writing, the voice acting, the combat, the social links--it's all great. It's engrossing, it sucks you in, and like all RPGs you'll be spending a lot of time level grinding, but you are always working TOWARDS something, trying to get just enough to buy that new Persona. Add in an extra hard mode for people who REALLY like it when a game violently rapes them without mercy or sympathy, and you have enough content to last you the summer and longer.

Buy this game. Even if you got the original, sell it and buy this one. It's the definitive Persona 3 experience, and it's only thirty dollars, so you have no excuse.

And stop trying to be clever by reviewing Yahtzee. It's immature.

Also go see Speed Racer.

And make me a sammich.

i actually bought this game a few days ago and haven't played it yet. Your review is very well written and I can only hope the game is as fun as you make it sound. Thanks, and nice review!

It's not nearly as good as Nocturne or the Digital Devil Sagas, but it's $30 for the original and the expansion, so whatever

What system is it for? 360?

It's for PS2.
I played it when it first came out- checked it out from work. It was fantastic but I only got about halfway through. I need to go spend money on it so I can finish it. But first I have Lost Odyssey to beat...
Personally, I liked it better than the Digital Devil Sagas. Don't get me wrong, I liked those too- I'm a huge fan of all Shin Megami Tensei. The uniqueness of the storyline is just too good to pass up. But I felt less ridiculous playing Persona because it made a little more sense in my unworldly little mind, I guess. lol

Niniux:
What system is it for? 360?

OOo, had forgotten this--it's a PS2 title.

Actually, I should probably mention that there is another shortcoming in addition to the soundtrack, and that's the graphics. The sprites are fairly simplistic, and none of the textures or environments are going to really blow your mind--this is balanced out by the principle characters having a variety of hand-drawn portraits that reflect their emotions when they speak, making the character models unimportant, but it is still a bit...lackluster.

However, FES version does make minor visual improvments, like having some new costumes that equippable armors give you, as well as allowing you to change the default dungeon music to something a lot nicer on the ears.

BlazeTheVampire:
It's for PS2.
I played it when it first came out- checked it out from work. It was fantastic but I only got about halfway through. I need to go spend money on it so I can finish it. But first I have Lost Odyssey to beat...
Personally, I liked it better than the Digital Devil Sagas. Don't get me wrong, I liked those too- I'm a huge fan of all Shin Megami Tensei. The uniqueness of the storyline is just too good to pass up. But I felt less ridiculous playing Persona because it made a little more sense in my unworldly little mind, I guess. lol

Lost Odyssey is pretty much shit. I would reccomend P3 over it any day of the week. Lost Odyssey suffers from having far too much budget and not enough justification for it--case in point being the whole fucking third disc, where you sit helplessly and watch about three hours of consecutive cutscenes completely and irreversibly derail the plot and shit all over the characters who, until this point, you've actually genuinely begun to care for.

I've heard a lot of positive feedback on LO, but the storyline, the writing--it's all extremely superficial, and the third disc, trying to "twist" the plot, ultimately ruins every thing good that the game had going for it. The only plus I can say is that LO has an excellent attention to detail paid to its directing, with dynamic character angles and the like.

It just sucks that every other aspect of the game is subpar and just plain insulting to the gamer's intelligence.

Double posting in your own thread is a good way to get it locked.

I liked this one more than Nocturne, and only a bit more than Digital Devil Saga 2 (1 kinda sucks, lets be honest here)

RentCavalier:
Really, you are writing a subjective opinion about another person's subjective opinion. No. That is silly. Stop it, you are not being clever, you are being irritating and also stupid.

These things are true: in your subjective opinion, maybe not in anyone else's.

:Recursive Loop Incoming:

Just to let you know, as a fan of ME, your first two sentences pretty much made sure that I wouldn't much care about what you had to say. My point being, don't make negative generalizations about a group of people if you want to get a point across.

Your reviewing style reminds me of Yahtzee. Well, I say 'reminds' because 'is sickeningly copied to the point of farcical stupidity' is a much harsher (albeit more accurate term).

That being said, my subjective opinion is that since I wasn't mocking you so hard I missed your point that Persona 3 is a half-decent game, you probably have some talent.

Like thebobmaster said, I'm not too happy you decided to insult me off the bat...

That being said, you have a good style of writing... just don't be such a dick (I'm not the only one to feel this way, right?).

Like others have mentioned, I didn't appreciate being insulted right off the bat. The thing is that different people enjoy different things, which is probably why Yahtzee doesn't seem to insult people based on the games they play. He might bitch & whine about how we don't give the time of day to a game that he considers to be good, but I don't think he cares what we do in the privacy of our own homes. Why should he? The OP on the other hand seems to take offense at people who enjoy things that he doesn't...and this is where I find myself asking a question: if this person has already categorized me, then why shouldn't I do the same? Why not just lump his opinions into the waste bin and move on?

Well, as it happens I did read through the review, and found it pretty good.

However, one of the many things that I didn't like to read was:

RentCavalier:

The story, the writing, the voice acting, the combat, the social links--it's all great. It's engrossing, it sucks you in, and like all RPGs you'll be spending a lot of time level grinding, but you are always working TOWARDS something, trying to get just enough to buy that new Persona.

I spent exactly zero hours of ME in grind-mode, so that takes care of that myth. I always had something interesting to investigate or study, so why grind? Hm...on reflection we probably mean different things when we talk about grinding. O' well, I'm sure you'll tell me what you mean by "level grinding" soon enough.

Writing in all caps seems to be popular again - I suppose mainly because Yahtzee does it, so it's cool. Personally I find it aggravating, but go right ahead and write as you like; don't expect me to hold back phrases like "teenage Yahtzee-wanna-be".

Hmm...

In truth, actually, I only threw the Mass Effect comment in at the beginning because that was the first name that came to mind when I thought of really popular RPGs this year. The review really isn't comparing Persona 3 to Mass Effect--they're so radically different games, it's really unfair to compare them, and if there was some confusion I apologize.

Though, in truth, aren't you guys just really rising to the bait? For all you know, I could have randomly insulted Mass Effect just to see the reaction, and if that was the case, all you're really doing is bumping my topic up again, making me, like, king or something.

And although I appreciate being king, I suppose if this keeps up, there's just gonna be more pissed off folks, so let me address a few things.

In advance, apologies for the insults. I was in a bad mood and so I may have worded my original intention a bit harshly, BUT that is not to say that I apologize for what I said, at least in regards to the whole "Yahtzee" review topics. They're ridiculous, and there seem to be a number of them, or similar topics. Criticism is always fine, but most of these topics just seem silly and out of place, and I really don't think this is the place for them. Every Zero Punctuation vid has a board for comments and the like--if you have something to say about ZP, post it there, where it might (god knows) actually get read by Yahtzee and have more of an impact than cluttering another forum that he likely doesn't visit.

Secondly, I am also growing a BIT weary of a lot of comments calling me a "Yahtzee" knock-off. To be fair, there is some validity to that, but not in the way you think. Yahtzee has a unique, rambling style of review that is, arguably, one of the best styles FOR review writing. Its punchy, entertaining, and has a sort of bullet point "bam bam bam" punch to it which makes going through the more tedious aspects of the review, like the technical stuff, more interesting and quick. However, this is not something that I think is inherently unique to Yahtzee because, in general, reviews follow the SAME FORMAT. Its the way a good review is written, and Yahtzee did not invent it, nor is he the biggest pioneer of it. I write reviews the way they ought to be written, in my mind, and that happens to be similar to how Yahtzee does it because he writes GOOD REVIEWS. So, I don't mind at all being compared to Yahtzee, but accusing me of ripping him off is like accusing Salvador Dali ripping off Picasso just because they both drew trippy, psychedlic paintings.

I do find, admittedly, that if I watch a Zero Punctuation review and write something afterward, my vocabulary and language seem to get a heavy influence, so it isn't neccessarily unfair to say that I borrow a number of things from Zero Punctuation in reviews, but at the same time, it also isn't fair to say I'm ripping it off, because--as any writer will tell you--you tend to borrow things you like from any books you read. Writers read a lot, and the often adjust their styles to fit in aspects of other folks' books that they like. Its called borrowing, and its a commonly accepted literary facet.

This seems the perfect moment to mention that this review has been 3'd. I excised all the references to Yahtzee, and put some pretty pictures in instead.

I think it's a good review, contentious Yahtzee comments or not. It's hard to enjoy yourself while writing computer games reviews these days and not be compared to Yahtzee, so I quite sympathise.

Gigantor:
This seems the perfect moment to mention that this review has been 3'd. I excised all the references to Yahtzee, and put some pretty pictures in instead.

I think it's a good review, contentious Yahtzee comments or not. It's hard to enjoy yourself while writing computer games reviews these days and not be compared to Yahtzee, so I quite sympathise.

I thought that Yahtzee was a omnipotent being, diluted from our souls.

sammyfreak:
I thought that Yahtzee was a omnipotent being, diluted from our souls.

An easy mistake-ah to make-ah. He's not omnipotent, but he's becoming increasingly omnipresent-- I've heard a lot of people talking about him who I've never heard talking about games before. It's those cute little pictures, I'm telling ya.

Gigantor:

sammyfreak:
I thought that Yahtzee was a omnipotent being, diluted from our souls.

An easy mistake-ah to make-ah. He's not omnipotent, but he's becoming increasingly omnipresent-- I've heard a lot of people talking about him who I've never heard talking about games before. It's those cute little pictures, I'm telling ya.

I would'nt be to fazed if Radiohead would feature a negative review by him in their next album.

i have heard nothing but praise from this game, but i ask you if i hate jrpg's(believe me i have tried to get into it) will i have a problem with this game?, or is it so good that it will transcend my bigotry

RentCavalier:
\Sure, you might try to rally behind Mass Effect, but this is because you are stupid.

Persona 3 stars you--the guy. Nameless, voiceless (well, actually, he has a few speaking parts in battles) dude.

Also go see Speed Racer.

I agree, Mass Effect wasn't very good. Also do we ever have a loud mouth protagonist? Speed Racer is AWESOME.

Now on topic. I think the game was brilliant. You do have to "shoot yourself" to summon personas right? If I remember this as the right game then I think this system is brilliant. Furthermore the bizarreness of the game is worth playing it for. Finally well written review.

O maestre:
i have heard nothing but praise from this game, but i ask you if i hate jrpg's will i have a problem with this game?

Yes. Persona 3 is the most overtly Japanese JRPG for a very long time. The characters even address each other as -kun and -chan in the English translation. If it wasn't such a good game it could easily be written off as disposable Fatlus/weaboo fodder. I don't think you'd like it.

______

The reason I've avoided the Aegis expansion is because I heard enemies dodge magic with annoying frequency. Given that the entire point of the battle system is to exploit elemental weaknesses it seems like a terrible and potentially game-breaking alteration. The original was hard enough as it was.

Niniux:
What system is it for? 360?

PS2
Edit: Sorry, didn't realize somebody beat me to it.

xxhazyshadowsxx:

Niniux:
What system is it for? 360?

PS2
Edit: Sorry, didn't realize somebody beat me to it.

yeah, 11 months ago.

ultimatechance:

xxhazyshadowsxx:

Niniux:
What system is it for? 360?

PS2
Edit: Sorry, didn't realize somebody beat me to it.

yeah, 11 months ago.

Better late then never. I just got Persona 3, and I wanted to check out an Escapist review of it. I completely forgot the fact that this was a dated thread.

xxhazyshadowsxx:

ultimatechance:

xxhazyshadowsxx:

Niniux:
What system is it for? 360?

PS2
Edit: Sorry, didn't realize somebody beat me to it.

yeah, 11 months ago.

Better late then never. I just got Persona 3, and I wanted to check out an Escapist review of it. I completely forgot the fact that this was a dated thread.

haha, that makes sense then

I own this and I hated the battle theme. I thought the game was ok. Your review's very informative and to the point.

 

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