killroycantkill's Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (PlayStation 2) review

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One of the Great RPG of the last generation

Persona 3 FES is the sort for special version of the regular Persona 3 for the PS2. In case you already own the first version of Persona 3, FES allows you to bring over your save file from that game and start playing right away with all the new features. The Shin Megami Tensei games have been among the hardest of the hard core in terms of JRPG’s (Japanese Role Playing Games for those of you not in the loop) and Persona 3 stands up to that hardcore standard, with side quests galore and being over 70 hours long even if you just solider through the main story and do none of the side quests. 

Person 3 FES’s story is about a young boy who you get to name who is going to a new school and is staying at one of the local dorms. Upon coming to the dorm a strange boy makes the silent hero sign a contract making him responsible for his own actions as vague as that sounds that what the contract says. After the weird run in with the mysterious boy the hero befalls a strange time called the Dark Hour where demons called Shadows have come out to terrorize this alternate dimension that happens at mid-night. Your character in the midst of this entire calamity learns about this unique power called Persona which allows him to summon demons of all kinds from religions and beliefs to world to help him defeat the shadows. Shortly after your discovery of your power you learn that your dorm mates also have the same power as you but they can only use one persona while you can use any ones you want. The protagonist gets introduced to an item called an Evoker which allows you to summon your persona by forcing it out of your head. How this happens is that the Evoker is kind of like a spirit gun where you whole party points the gun at their head a pull the trigger. Yep you shoot yourself in the face to summon ancient demons; I bet this game had your attention now doesn’t it. Along the way the main character and party members try to find their way to the top of a tower called the Tartarus which only appears during the dark hour to try to find the reason for the dark hour and how to stop it. Tartarus is split into different blocks and the tower as a whole is about 250 floors that you will traverse throughout the whole game. 

The combat in the game is set up like you typical JRPG. Your characters have health and magic points and will use a variety of attacks and spells to defeat the foes that they encounter. Each of your party members can only use specific weapons and some have armour specific to their gender. Everyone will also have the choice of one accessory which will grant various bonuses, but with only one slot you have to make your choice wisely. The main character can use any weapon in the game but cannot use the female specific armour. Encounters in Persona 3 are not random, though the dungeon floors are. Each floor is randomly generated but the enemies who are on these floors to not just appear out of random. While you are running around on the floor trying to find the staircase to the next floor black blobs on the floors will represent the shadows and if they see you they will run at you and try to imitate battle. You can either sneak up on an enemy from behind or press X to attack it. If you hit the enemy this way your party will gain a Player Advantage and you will get one extra turn at the start of the battle. But this can also work against you because the shadow can attack you and if this happens the enemy will get an extra turn which can be very bad for you. Extra turns also play a part in battle. If you find an opponent’s weakness you will be rewarded with an extra turn to attack again. You can keep getting these extra turns until you don’t hit an attack that is a weakness or until all the enemies are knocked down. When an enemy is hit with a weakness they are knocked down and will use a turn getting back up when it is their turn again. If you manage to knock down all the enemies at the same time you will be able to use a special team attack where you all attack at once and do a great deal of damage to the enemies. But just the like starting of battle this mechanic can work against you and the enemy can also find your weakness and take advantage of the extra turns given. But your enemies will not be able to do the group attack like you do.

During the progression through the story everything takes place in this one giant tower, with one sound track playing throughout this massive 70+ hour game. Surprisingly this track does not get annoying and eventually gets catchy the more you get through the game. Also during the story you will run into some very interesting new party members ranging from a dog to a shadow destroying robot. This makes a very interesting variety of characters to choose from to be in your party each with their own unique style of playing. It also shows their uniqueness during the story with their different ways of thinking and also their ways of dealing with certain events affect the group as a whole. Your group is controlled by the game AI and not by you but you will be able to affect how the AI picks moves by choosing the fighting type you want your party members to be. So if you have someone with high SP and some healing spells you can set them to act as a healer. 

In between battling the shadows in Tartarus you will be attending Gekkoukan High School since you are a student. During your time at school you will be taking mid terms, yeah you heard me right; the hobby you do to get away from the real life is making you go to virtual school. After school you will be able to go into the town to places like the local mall, a shrine, the train station and other places to go explore start making friends. Yep in Persona you will be making “Social Links” during your time. Increasing your relationship with the people with these Social Links will help you when making personas by powering up certain persona types which you will be able to make in the Velvet Room. Along your journey you will be able to capture many personas and then use those to fuse and make new stronger ones in a velvet room based on your social links. 

Specific to the Persona 3 FES edition there is a whole other 40+ hour game called The Answer. *Spoilers to the main story ahead* In The Answer you play as Aigis one of the party members from the first story. You learn that after the ending of persona 3 The Journey the main character fell into a coma about a month ago and has just recently been declared dead. Things don’t seem to be looking up either with the SEES dorm being shut down. During one of their celebrations time mysteriously freezes and no longer advancing. After some investigation on this weird happening they discover a maze called the Abyss of Time that is located under the dorm. During the exploration of the maze the team discovers more about the main character from the first story and the reason for his fate. Also a new character named Metis is introduced and she turns out to be Aigis’s sister. *Spoilers End*

 

With the great original story and the new 40+ hour game The Answer, Peronsa 3 FES is a great deal that you cannot afford to pass up. Also this review is posted up at by blog Extra Lives as well as some other posts. 

Other reviews for Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (PlayStation 2)

    Persona 3 FES 0

    I'm really not someone who plays a lot of Japanese RPGs, as I've written about in the past. But based on the constant praise and discussion of Persona 3 I saw on my favorite message board, I decided to give its special edition FES a try, and 82 hours later have finally finished what is easily my most enjoyable experience with the genre ever. It's an interesting take on some of the conventions. Instead of new areas and plot points becoming available as you go to different places, everything advan...

    10 out of 10 found this review helpful.

    The game that wouldn't end 0

    Japanese RPGs may be past their heyday, but those with a keen eye and an interest in the genre should be capable of picking out the good ones from the pack. At first glance, Persona 3: FES looks to be one of those hidden gems. It's got an interesting design, strategic combat, and likable characters. But in the end, it's weighed down by many of the same trappings the genre is known for, as it's repetition and excesive length hold Persona 3: FES back from being an otherwise stellar Japanese RPG.Th...

    2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

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