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LTTP: Persona 4: Arena (PS3)

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Who are the Persona 4: Arena fans? Who are the people who are Persona 4 fans that were also fighting game fans? It was an unlikely crossover that I still cannot determine was a good idea or not.

I am a big Persona 4 fan. I’ve technically purchased Persona 4 twice now thanks to the PlayStation Vita release. I’m also a person who enjoys the single player side of fighting games. It turns out, I am the one of those consumers Atlus was targeting.

Arc System Works created fighters that I’ve always heard so much about but never found the impetus to actually buckle down and play one. With Persona 4: Arena, I was finally able to check that off my list. I’ve always believed their games were difficult to play but Persona 4: Arena wasn’t complicated at all. Basic combos were easy to pull off with the simple mashing of a couple of buttons.

The incorporation of Personas felt seamless and each character felt true to their portrayals in the JRPG. Chie was predictably kick centric, Kanji was the the muscled brute and Naoto’s use of firearms offered a unique playstyle to an already eccentric lineup. I was also impressed with the inclusion of status ailments that the characters could exploit.

The fighting itself was sound; I had no complaints on that front. But the manner in which the story was told was not ideal. It was repetitive and not cohesive whatsoever. I was hoping for something along the lines of Mortal Kombat’s campaign but instead I played through a mix of traditional fighting arcade modes with a thick layer of Persona 4 inspired fiction on top.

I wish the story mode was not comprised of independent character stories. They all lead to the same conclusion which made certain character’s versions of the story appear farfetched. I didn’t believe Yukiko could ever take the lead and resolve the entire case. I felt the same with Kanji or even Yosuke. In the end I only took a handful of stories as canon.

Admittedly, I found most of the written and spoken text compelling as a Persona 4 and Persona 3 fan. It was neat to catch up on what Mitsuru Kirijo and some of the other Persona 3 cast members were up to. I liked how they integrated the two sets of characters into the same storyline. I just wished that the story didn’t leave at a cliffhanger.

Persona 4: Arena’s narrative seemed like it was cut short. I spent a lot of time playing it but I didn’t feel like I made a lot of headway. I felt like they wrapped up act one of a two or three part saga. Persona 4: Arena was a solid first try. It may be flawed with the Persona 4 half of the equation but as a fan, I was willing to forgive. The sequel can be a fighter a fighter again but I will be disappointed if storytelling improvements were not made.

Verdict:
For Fans Only

Ratings Guide

For more information on Persona 4: Arena, visit the official website.

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