Second Verse, Same As The First
If you are a fan of the Persona series, you will love Persona 2. Everything you’ve learned about the series from the original, the third, and the fourth entries in the series holds true here, and you won’t be surprised by what you find in this game. There are plenty of demons to talk to, interesting branching storylines, and of course, a metric ton of interpersonal drama. Persona 2 doesn’t have anything to do directly with the other games in the series, so even if you’ve only played the later two games, Persona 2 works well as a sequel of sorts if you want to think of it that way. If you already know and love Persona, This game is definitely a must-buy for you.
But if you’ve never played a Persona game before, Persona 2 is a great place to jump in. The game is very much tied to the world of the over-arching Shin Megami Tensei series (or MegaTen for short) and has very prominent occult themes. It tells a dark story about the nature of sin and perception, and if you think today’s games are lacking in substance, you’ll get plenty of that here.
Of course, the only drawback to telling a big story is that there is a lot of dialogue. And because Persona 2 was made more than a decade ago, that means you are going to have to sit through hours of these dialogue scenes. In fact the first two hours of gameplay are spent just setting up the story. If you don’t like this kind of story-focused gameplay, or prefer more cinematic story sequences, you probably won’t enjoy Persona 2. But, if you can stick it out, you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping, branching story that will keep you engrossed during the game’s 40-plus hour story.
The story isn’t the only thing with considerable depth. The battle system requires you to use tactics and negotiation skills in very interesting ways. When you first encounter a demon enemy, you can talk to it, which can turn the tides of the battle. You can either make it so mad it gains power from rage, or make it friendlier toward you so it will form a pact with you and fight for you.
If the conversation doesn’t end on a friendly note, it’s time to fight. You can fight with your weapons or with Personas, who use magical and elemental attacks. The battle system is strictly turn-based, so you can take as much time as you want to formulate a plan of attack. Though some might argue that the turn-based battle system is antiquated, the return to something that requires you to actually put some thought into your actions instead of just hammering on the attack button is something I think modern gaming is missing. This type of battle system probably isn’t for everyone, but if you miss true tactics-based gameplay, you’ll be delighted by the depth and customization in Persona 2’s battle system.
In addition to fighting demons, you’ll also have to wage war in the game using the power of misinformation. In the world of Persona 2, rumors are becoming fact, and perception is starting to replace reality. Spread the right rumors, and you can get people to behave in a way that is more conducive to your mission. Manipulating people and spreading rumors is one of the big strategic elements you’ll have to deal with in order to shape the world of Persona 2 and stop the evil forces that surround your community. Of course, this may or may not be too ethical, but forcing players to deal with the consequences of your actions is yet another facet of the game that makes it a stand-out title.
Although the story and battle system are undeniably the backbone of the Persona 2 experience, they don’t make a perfect game. On the technical side of things, Persona 2 does falter a bit, and most of these issues are due to its age. Since the original Persona 2 was released in 1999, you can expect some less-than-modern visuals. Pixel-based environments vary in complexity, and battle stages are unfortunately very repetitive. Even the animation feels old, which is a shame because you can tell that the game was ported with some effort to the PSP. Unfortunately, it is lacking that final bit of polish that we’ve come to expect from games on the PSP.
Sound is a little bit better, with a choice of two soundtracks and a pretty good voiceover. The only real problem is that the voiceover is a bit uneven, and kicks in only during specific parts of the game. I suppose this makes sense, as there is so much dialogue in the game that a full voiceover may have been a little too time-consuming for the re-release schedule. Still, randomly hearing voices go in and out during pivotal scenes is a little jarring.
Despite small hiccups in both the visuals and the soundtrack, Persona 2: Innocent Sin is a solid port of the Persona game Americans never got to play. It has been a long wait for both MegaTen and Persona fans, and the finished product is definitely worth the attentions of both. However, if you don’t fall in to one of the aforementioned groups, you may still want to check out Persona 2. It’s a great example of an old school story-driven JRPG, and in a genre that only sees a handful of releases a year, it’s great when you have a release that nails almost everything. Persona 2: Innocent Sin isn’t perfect, but if you’re a JRPG fan, it’s probably the best thing you’ll play this year.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.2 Graphics
Graphics are stylish, but a bit too antiquated. 4.0 Control
Menu controls work well; there are no issues. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is great, but voiceover is a bit uneven. 4.3 Play Value
With a branching story that can reach up to 40 hours, this is one portable that will keep you playing. 3.9 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|