In 2008, a company called Atlus released a unique turn based role playing game for the Playstation 2 known as Persona 4. In 2011, an anime based off of this title was aired in Japan (You can watch this show right now on Hulu if you wish). With the success of the video game and anime, Atlus decided to team up with Arc System Works (the makers of Blazblue and Guilty Gear) to create a stunning 2D fighting game starring all of the major Persona 4 characters. Welcome to Persona 4 Arena for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
I wish I could tell you the story of this game in my own words, but since I have NEVER played a Persona game before this, I am completely lost here. Fortunately, there IS a full fledged story mode filled with well written dialogue that explains what happens to each character after the events of the original Persona 4. From MY understanding of the story, the heroes of the original game are suddenly transported to an alternate dimension through a television where they are forced to battle each other in a deadly fighting tournament with their Personas. Sorry I forgot to mention, Personas are “monsters” that are hidden within certain people and can be summoned at will. Again, I’ve never played a Persona game, so there may be a much deeper explanation of this than what I’ve gathered.
I must say I only played Story Mode for roughly half an hour. That’s how long it took me to engage in my first battle. I’m not kidding, there’s PLENTY of dialogue in this mode. Since I’m not familiar with the Persona characters yet, I couldn’t really enjoy this mode, BUT it IS a great mode for those who are more familiar with everything.
If you’ve ever played Guilty Gear or Blazblue before, this game will immediately feel familiar to you. You have light and heavy attacks, as well as light and heavy Persona attacks. There are a total of 13 playable characters each with their own unique special moves, super moves, and even a One Hit Kill Attack. If you’re playing the final round required to win and your super gauge at the bottom of the screen is full, you can instantly end the match with one strike. Be careful when you use it, as you’re left vulnerable for a short time.
Also, you can use All Out Attacks, meaning you can rush the opponent down with a wild “cartoony” looking combo, launch them in the air, and perform an air combo before they land on the ground. When performing any special or super move, you can One More Burst out of it to cancel what you’re doing and string up another combo instantly. Some attacks will even change the “status” of a character. You can poison, stun, and even confuse your opponents with combos.
There are SO many technical things to learn in this game, but thankfully there’s a Lesson Mode that teaches you every single detail you need to know. You even perform each lesson in real time, which will greatly help you understand the mechanics. Also, when you pause the game, there’s an extremely useful Command List which shows all of your characters basic combos, special moves, and super moves. Not to worry, even if you’ve NEVER played a fighting game in your life, this is a very fun game for anyone to pick up and enjoy. You can even perform some AMAZING combos with any character just by mashing the light attack button continuously. I personally think that with the simple combo button plus the many technical combos you can manually execute, this is a great way to appeal not only to casuals, but to veteran fighters as well.
The graphics are absolutely gorgeous. The backgrounds are rendered in 3D with bright and colorful visuals, while the characters are beautifully 2D animated. You can’t help but feel that you’re actually playing an anime.
This game has some of the catchiest music I’ve ever heard in any fighting game. All of the tracks has a “pop” vibe to it. Listen to “Reach Out To The Truth” and “Signs of Love”. To me, those are incredible songs that get me hyped up for battle.
Nothing to complain about in the sound effects department. All of the punches, kicks, and slashes boom in arcade quality and sound like they hurt. The English character voices are all outstanding. There is an option to switch the character voices to Japanese if that’s your thing.
This game has your basic Arcade and Versus Modes. Of course, this game also has a Network Mode, which allows you to battle other human players over Xbox Live or Playstation Network. I’ve only fought one opponent so far and there was absolutely no lag. There’s also a Challenge Mode which forces you to perform your character’s more complicated combos. This is perfect for learning new strategies for future battles! Gallery Mode has a large number of images, music tracks, and character endings to unlock from playing the game. There’s even numerous “Titles” to unlock by various conditions. Titles are nicknames that will display on your profile when you battle online. For example, at the moment I’m known as “Maybe I Am Darkness” (I guess I only chose that because it sounds cool). There’s even a Theater Mode, which allows you to download replays of the best fights and you can watch them for entertainment, or more importantly, to learn deeper strategies from the best players. Did I mention this game has a deep Story Mode? So yes, this game has much replay value.
Persona 4 Arena is an incredible fighting game. There are a few tiny nitpicks I have with the game like the Story Mode having too much dialogue, and I’m not a big fan of the status changes like poison and confusion, BUT there’s no doubt P4A is one of the best fighting games to come out in a very long time. Again to those who are fans of Blazblue and Guilty Gear, this game is a no brainer. You MUST have it in your collection. 60 Dollars may be steep for a brand new copy of a fighting game with only 13 fighters, but hardcore fighting game fans will definitely get their money’s worth out of this package. Check it out!