"F" That Game - Persona 3 FES - The Journey

In the weeks leading up to Final Fantasy XIII, I’ve decided that I’m going to roll back and wrap up some of my lingering games.

I wasn’t going to do a blog for this game. I thought I had only a few hours left to go, but I damn near another 20 hours into the game. So this game is going to get it’s own “F” That Game.

It all started about a year ago. Two of my friends were talking about this site, and a game known as Persona 4. My roommate has been in knowledge of the Megaten games for quite a while, and spoke highly of them. So, almost on a whim, I went and picked up Persona 4. I think it might’ve been cheap at Futureshop or something. Popped it in, and got about as hooked as I did when I played my first Final Fantasy game over 10 years ago.

As I approached the end of my second “completion” my buddy lent me his copy of Persona 3 FES. I rolled into it after I was done with P4. Atlas definitely streamlined some parts for P4. I really, really missed the quick travel button. However, there was a certain level of “icing” that Atlas put into P3 that didn’t return in P4. Little quirks, such as comic style panels to even the way a question mark is drawn above a character’s head had 10 times more pizzazz than P4. It made the conversational bits that much more entertaining and, at the same time, is something that could’ve been left out to shave off a few months of production.

I also think the social link system is better performed in P3. The fact that, with some sort of ease, I could ruin a relationship with a person, and then have to try and reconcile just added a whole extra layer to social linking. Even better, I was able to do way more social linking in this game. The fact that I hardly ever had to choose between hanging out or exploring the dungeon was much more appreciated. Of course, if you could social link this often in P4, maxing out every social link would be a cinch. Saying the wrong thing had harsher repercussions than in P4. Sometimes taking upwards of 4 or 5 visits to link up. Speaking of which, this has kinda been my issue in both games. I don’t really like the fact that I’m answering questions based on what the other people want to hear, instead of what I truly believe. This façade leaves me feeling slimier than any real friend should.

Where I thought P3 fell kinda flat was the main dungeon. Every character in the game spoke of Tartarus -- “tartersauce” to me -- as being something they HAD to do more than WANTED to do. Every goddamn floor of that place made me feel that way. I don’t know if I want to give Atlas kudos for making me, the player, feel the same as the in game character must’ve felt about that place. Thankfully they included a split up and search button. I skipped maybe half the floors, found the bosses, tried them out, saw how bad I got my ass handed to me, then spent the next smattering of days grinding levels. At least, if I was in a somewhat tougher area, gaining levels was pretty quick. As soon as it wasn’t, I was trying the boss again, cause I would most likely be able to beat them.

Shuffle Time helped out with that, cause 9 times out of 10 I would go for the experience gaining card. I really like the Shuffle Time in this game. It had a street curb card swindler vibe to it. “Shuffle” being the key word here. I guess P4’s should’ve been called “Orbiting Card Time.” I was also a fan of the random “double down” so you can have a chance at getting bonus experience and a Persona out of the whole deal.

The battle system is fairly straight forward. It would’ve been a lot nicer to have control of my party, and the “knock down” tactic should’ve been made available sooner. It would also have been handy if the character would choose something other than “wait” when they were unable to perform a knock down move. In most battles, this was alright. It just ended up being a big SP drain for my character. If only there was 1 or 2 more tactics slots... Man, FFXII’s gambits have spoiled me.

Persona 3 was a much darker story than Persona 4. I‘m a huge fan of murder mysteries so I immediately latched on to P4. After 80 hours of P3, I’m not as into it as I was 10 hours into P4. I like the characters, the setting and a lot of the story itself, but, as a package, it doesn’t feel as concise as P4. Maybe its ambiguity was intentional. Combine that with being a translated story and perhaps there is something lost in the translation. I’m saving the remainder of my opinion until I’ve seen the Answer portion of the game. The Journey was definitely an appropriate name for this first part.

All in all, I’m in love with the Shin Megami Tensei games. They’ve opened up a whole new area of JRPGs for me and, since I’m so backlogged with their games, I now have plenty of games to fill in the void between other major releases. If you like Persona 4, chances are you will like Persona 3. Just be prepared to make some concessions, however, cause it truly is a predecessor.