|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 8, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Though the game is only about 40 hours if you run right through all of the plot elements, if you really take your time with the game, you can get much more value from it. Maxing out social stats, improving relationships, and exploring different areas of Inaba can easily double your time with this game. Persona 4 also has substantial replay value, as there are different endings depending on your character's choices throughout the game.
One part of this title that is definitely far from conventional is it's graphical style. Persona 4 has an almost film-like aesthetic to it, and different colors are emphasized throughout the game to reinforce different meanings. For instance, yellow and black are battle colors, and they often permeate the TV world; while the color blue permeates The Velvet Room, which is a different dimension only accessible by dreams. The color scheme is very striking, and it really pulls you into different aspects of the game. The game also has some pretty amazing character designs, and the different Personas are meticulously detailed with rich patterns and accessories.
As for the graphics themselves, the game looks very good despite being released on the almost decade-old PlayStation 2. The cinema scenes in the game are great quality, anime-style animation for key plot points. The approach is very vivid and conveys characters emotions with turbulent force. The in-engine graphics are also very stylistic, but the graphical limitations of the PlayStation 2 are very apparent. Jagged lines and some repetitive character animations are chief among the graphical issues you may encounter in this game, but the amazing style overall more than makes up for these technical issues.
The music in Persona 4 is again composed by Shoji Meguro, whose work in Persona 3 was highly praised. The game's music is nicely varied, and Meguro's moody and thematic compositions definitely bolster the game's emotional story. Also of note is the different J-pop-style theme songs, which are very energetic and fun to listen to.
However, when it comes to the sound, the voice acting in Persona 4 definitely takes the cake as the game's best feature. While I am normally un-impressed by English voiceovers in JRPGs, the voiceover here was done spectacularly. All of the different characters have wonderfully produced voices and hit emotional notes just right. I have to say, the voiceover in this title rivals any other game out there, and it is probably better than some games produced primarily in English.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is a must-own title, hands-down. Even if you have never played a Persona game before, the game doesn't assume familiarity with the series, and does a good job of accommodating those who might fall into this category. Persona 4 delivers a unique, story-focused gaming experience that has plenty of style, substance, and heart. Even though some might balk at buying a game for the aging PlayStation 2, this game is definitely worth blowing the dust off of your old system, and it is unquestionably a serious contender for the best RPG this year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor