You’ll shoot your eye out
February 13, 2007 – With Sony’s recent release of their PlayStation 3 (PS3), it appears that the PS2’s days are numbered. Although this is an unavoidable eventuality for all video game consoles, the PS2 continues to be one of the best systems on the market. Refusing to go out with a whimper, the PS2 has several great games on the horizon that will make its owners continue to leave their last-generation system plugged in. The Persona series, while a fan favorite, has been dormant since the final gasps of the PS1’s lifecycle. Atlus looks like they will help give the PS2 one of its last deep breaths with their release of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 takes place in modern-day Japan. Players will control a 17 year-old male character that they get to name. Your character has recently transferred to a new high school and must deal with the changes that this move brings. This school will play a large role in the game.
Every simulated day in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 will be broken up into early morning, morning, lunch hour, afternoon, night hour, late at night, and “Shadow Time” periods. Players will spend morning, lunch hour, and afternoon in school. You will attend classes, answer teacher’s questions, and get to know your fellow students. All of these things are important to improving your character. By answering questions correctly, you can boost your academic skill. Getting to know your classmates can lead to becoming part of some after school activities.
This isn’t to say that schooling is the focal point of this game. There is a good variety of things to do in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. You can even take trips to the mall to go shopping. With a plethora of choices for activities, players will have to choose what to do very carefully because Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 incorporates a stamina meter into the game. This meter determines how much a player can do in any given day. If you join too many after school clubs, your character may become too exhausted to move. This meter may at first seem somewhat limiting but you will quickly realize that it is just adding a level of strategy and realism to the game.
While everything may appear completely normal during the day, at the stroke of midnight “Shadow Time” begins. During this time, demons will begin to wander the city and your school is transformed into a dark tower known as Tartaros. This tower is full of randomly generated enemies and levels to fight through. Fortunately though, you won’t have to fight all of these enemies alone.
Throughout your quest to destroy all of the demons, you will be aided by two computer-controlled partners and your ability to summon Personas. While computer-controlled teammates are usually something to fear, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3’s are surprisingly competent. Add to this the ability to give them some basic guidelines to follow in combat and they can be trusted to have your back. Summoning Personas will also help you level the playing field in combat.
Early into Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, your character will discover he has the ability to summon Personas. These are strong creatures that can be made even stronger by combining them together. Players will be able to combine up to six Personas together with the end product having the abilities of the creatures that created it. Your character will summon these Personas in an oddly violent and masochistic fashion. To call these creatures to your aid, you must put a pistol to your forehead and pull the trigger. This will cause them to spring forth from your head to do your bidding, returning to their cranial home when they are finished. This summoning method is sure to create some controversy, especially with politicians looking for any excuse to demonize the video game industry.
Controversies aside, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 looks like it will be a great title in the waning days of the PS2. Persona fans and Role-playing game fans alike should definitely keep their eyes on this title. PS2 fans should cherish every great game that will come out this year as though it is the last. Unfortunately, they very well may be but at least the PS2 will go out with a bang.