By misfit119 1 Comments
For anyone who is worried about spoilers there are some spoilers in this about two of the S. Links (Moon and Sun) so if you're worried about that, or haven't seen them, then there's spoilers to be wary of.
Let's get the positive stuff out of the way before doing anything else. These are the things that I like based off of how the game compares to P3 basically.
I don't care what anybody says, i like Teddie. He's got some interesting character elements to him, he grows over the story and I figured that his overly cutesey personality had a purpose and lookit that, it did. It also made perfect sense having his S. Link be based on game progress, something I wish the game had done with the other party members in retrospect. More on that below.
The ability to actually directly control your party members is a freaking godsend. It eliminates all of the hoping and praying that Persona 3 was full of at tense times and really puts the ability to control the party in your hands. For a micromanaging player like myself this made the game so much more fun.
The story to this game tops the Persona 3 one simply for being more down to earth for the most part. Persona 3 was full of stuff that your average person really couldn't relate to such as: Mitsurus millionaire family, the elite school dorm setting, the android party member and a hyper intelligent dog. That's all without getting into the Midnight Hour and such. Stuff like this kind of creates a disconnect at times with the player but in P4 all of the characters are pretty much down to earth with the only really well off party members being realistically so (Yukiko and Yosuke).
Let's move on to the annoyances now.
Who the heck thought that putting the dungeon crawling at the same time that you do 90% of the Social Links was a good idea? There's only like... 2 Social Links you can do at night now (Tutor and Hospital Janitor part time jobs) while all of the rest are daytime S. Links, requiring you to choose between dungeon crawling or doing much of anything else. While I get that they were trying to force you to make that exact choice it flips the dynamic of this game a bit too much for my taste. Hear me out.
In Persona 3 you could go to Tartarus every night if you wanted to, making small and measured excursions every day. This allowed you to level up slowly, gather up Persona for Fusions, complete requests and actually dungeon crawl at your leisure. Playing P3 was kind of like that for me; every other day I was in Tartarus for a few hours in the least. I actually like level grinding in my RPGs so it worked out rather exceptionally for me, allowing me to perfectly balance my dungeon crawling to my tastes. The access points, teleporters and HP/SP being restored when you go back to the bottom floor to save reduced frustrations from dying and losing an hour of work like you can in most other RPGs. I don't mind hard games but losing all that work due to a single random encounter is staggeringly frustrating.
This is so far from the case in P4 it's not even funny.
Being forced to choose between dungeon crawling to save victims/fight optional bosses/level grind and doing S. Links or increasing stats meant that I only went to the TV dungeons about once every other week. But when I did so I had to stay in there for at least three or four hours, measuring out my SP ridiculously, so that I didn't fall too far behind the deadlines the game sets. It wasn't too bad at first but as the game went on... ugh. Towards the end I found myself coming down to the wire and almost got the bad ending because I just couldn't level up enough to fight the boss of Magatsu. For me to be underleveled is completely agitating knowing my power-leveling ways.
Making it even more annoying is the fact that I could have easily maxed out three more Social Links if not for everything happening during the day. Not that I needed to max them out, that's what a second playthrough is for, but it's kind of annoying knowing how close I was to doing it and not being able to due so simply due to how finnicky the game is. Raining? No Social Links are around. Victim kidnapped? Numerous S. Links are unavailable. Not the right day? Well wait for another one.
Admittedly, in retrospect, it's obvious that the devs wanted you to explore the TV when it was raining since there are rare monsters to find, most S. Links are nowhere to be found and there's honestly not much else to do at those times. But it's still very annoying seeing how constrained you are by the games limitations. It kills a fair bit of the freeform nature that Persona 3 had going on for it.
Secondly what the heck is up with the encounter system in this one? Why did they change away from the perfectly serviceable encounter system in P3?
I liked that in P3 if you snuck up behind an enemy and stabbed him in the back you got the advantage with no problem. If you weren't careful enough then they got to you first most of the time and you had only yourself to blame. In P4 I can't even count the number of times I waited for two or three whole minutes to get the jump on a hard, flashing, enemy and snuck up on him only to have him whip around 180 degrees and whack me before I can even swing my sword. I've noticed that the higher level the monster, the bigger their sprite is and the larger their detection radius.
At first this doesn't seem like too big of a problem until you realize that it's a veritable fight in and of itself to sneak up on the stronger enemies. So basically any enemy that gives you any real amount of experience will be a pain in the butt to sneak up on. This isn't a problem early on (seeing a pattern there?) but when you get to the point where you're fighting voltron looking dorks who one shot kill your party members it's realy annoying. Remember what I said about losing an hour of progress to a single random encounter? Well I guess since they seem to have fewer enemies who use Hama and Mudo spells they decided they needed enemies so strong they can one shot kill you with physical attacks or spells. Yay!
What makes this whole fact more annoying is that most of the bosses in this game aren't that hard. They just very rarely have weaknesses and when they do they tend to dodge their weakness incredibly often. Then again most monsters seem to dodge their weaknesses an inordinate amount of time. Pair that up with the fact that most encounters are against three different monsters, all with different weaknesses (if any) and more often than not one will drain an element, one will null an element and one will be weak to that same element. So if the enemies get the jump on you good luck taking them out before they beat the crap out of your party.
Third I find the SP restriction system wasn't very well thought out. Okay so you don't get it refilled by going back to the main area, you can't buy it and the thing that refills it later on is uber expensive. But it wouldn't be such a problem if you weren't usually forced to go on extended sojurns into the dungeons. This goes right into the complaint about the tv dungeons being open at the same time as all of the S. Links, thus forcing some annoying micromanagement on that level.
Lastly are the S. Links themselves. Whereas in P3 even the annoying people were somewhat fairly easy to empathize with some of these S. Links are just annoying. Ai Ebihara and Yumi (Drama Club) come straight to mind as glaring examples. More details in the spoiler block.
They feel so freaking sexist that it's physically painful to me. I suppose I could also say that they feel so freaking Japanese in their mentality and it be a bit more accurate. You see because Yumi, even though her dad left her and her mom for a younger woman, is a horrible daughter if she won't forgive her. And her mother has to be forgiving and run herself sick trying to take care of the deadbeat because that's what a good woman does. Yeah. Right.
Also Ai, that's a great one too. She's pretty but the boy she likes doesn't like her back so she's going to jump off a roof. Fine, normal teenager stupidity I can get that. But the fact that the older kid basically calls her a tease, slaps her in the face and runs off and you can't beat him down, defend her or anything and the game almost acts like she deserves it? Nobody sees a problem with this?! Is this like that whole thing on the trains where you're not supposed to say anything even though a guy is fondling you under your skirt? Ugh.
Let's just say I hated some of these S. Links and leave those two my examples as to why that is. I'm not even going to go into the fact that all of the growing up/therapy that you give to your party members is done in the main storyline, leaving the S. Link scenes to feel like... well not like much of anything. The only one who really felt like they grew in those is Kanji, but the rest happen as you play so it felt kinda redundant almost. Ah well.
There you have it. It's still a great game, better than anything Final Fantasy has done in over a decade but still horribly flawed. My score for it will change when I actually write my review.