Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Persona Persona Call Out Your Persona!!!

The wait is finally over and Persona 4 is finally here. Alot of people wondered would it be worth it being on the PS2 this far into the current generation? I can safely that the PS2 doesn't hold Persona 4 back at all and in fact Persona 4 is in my opinion the best RPG of the year.

I have to say that it amazes me how much better Persona 4 looks over Persona 3 considering the game uses the same engine. The character models are in most cases alot larger and far more detailed then they were in Persona 3. The environments also look far better and are more varied then they were in Persona 3.

The story of Persona 4 centers around your character(he is unnamed and it is up to you to name him) moving to the rural town of Inaba to live with your Uncle and his little daughter Nanako for a year. Upon your arrival a string of grisly murders begins and it is up to you with your new found power of Persona to solve the case and get to the bottom of the mystery. The game is incredibly well written and has plenty of twists and turns along the way as well as 4 different endings.

Returning again for the soundtrack is Shoji Meguro and the soundtrack again is extremely catchy and the songs are a bit less repetitive then Persona 3's soundtrack was. The voice acting is great for the main characters although some of the voices seem a bit out of place at first. As well as some minor characters seem very very miscast. For example anyone who has played Persona 3 will no doubt be familiar with Chihiro the student counsel treasurer. She makes a small cameo in Persona 4 and is voiced by Wendee Lee. Now don't get me wrong Wendee Lee is one of the best voice actresses out there however her voice does not fit Chihiro and therefore she ends up feeling out of place as a result. But this is a very minor gripe because as I mentioned this issue only tends to be a problem with the minor characters you see only a few times throughout the entire game.

When it comes to gameplay it's pretty much the same as Persona 3 with a few tweaks. There are now more stats related to Social links where as Persona 3 only had 3 stats Persona 4 has 5 Courage, Knowledge, Diligence, Understand and Expression. More often then not these stats will need to be high enough to trigger certain Social Links. Social Links as well have changed a bit as well as you will now sometimes be able to level multiple Links at once. Let me set the stage for you. You agree to spend the day with a friend on Sunday and you head to the Bookstore where you happen to run into another friend. You will now spend the day with both friends and in effect be leveling both of the Links at the same time. Not only is this very convenient but it also makes for some entertaining combo's of friends. Another change to make note of is that the Social Links of party members will directly effect how the perform in battle. For example if the level of the Social Link is high enough a party member may take a fatal blow for you in battle that would have otherwise ended the game. This is just a small example of how raising Social Links effect performance in battle.

When it comes to battle again the game is very similar but has some welcomed tweaks. You can now take complete control over all the members in your party which is a very welcome addition especially considering that the Bosses are far more difficult then they were in Persona 3. For the most part you will be looking to exploit the weakness of the Shadows you encounter so that you can perform the infamous All Out Attack which in most cases kills every enemy instantly. Also welcome is that you can now choose which abilities you allies Persona will forget once they learn a new skill which is very welcome as you can tune them to perform better this way. Overall you have more control over every aspect of battle which as I said is needed because the bosses are a bit more difficult then they were in the past.

The bottom line is I could keep talking all day about the finer details of Persona 4 and it's improvements over the previous game however I don't have that much time. It would also be far easier to just play the game for yourself. It's quite interesting that the best RPG so far this gen is a PS2 game which I don't think anyone would have foreseen. As for all Atlus games I suggest you act quite because Atlus games tend to disappear quickly thanks to their very limited runs. Seeing how much a improvement Persona 4 was over the last game I can't help but be extremely excited to see what the future of the franchise brings us.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Best Sonic yet?

For awhile now Sonic has been suffering from really lack luster releases. Many say that Sonic has not seen a good 3d game since Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast. Sonic Unleashed aims to fix that. Does it succeed? Yes it does but that's not to say it's anywhere near perfect.

First off lets start with how the game looks. Upon booting up the game you are greeted with a stunning CG opening which honestly makes me wonder why Sega has not made a Sonic CG movie. I'm sure one would be a total success were it to be made. CG aside the game is still very nice to look at. The night stages in particular have very beautiful effects and even suffer from a bit of slowdown every now and then.

Now I mentioned night stages. The game is split between night stages and day stages. At night Sonic turns into a Werehog. The game basically functions as a beat em up at night. Surprisingly there are quite a few moves to learn as you level up and get more and more powerful. There are also a few bosses that are quite fun to fight as well. So while they may feel somewhat out of place in a Sonic game I do think that the night time stages are a welcome addition. One thing I would like to add is that I don't understand the reason for Sonic to undergo a transformation for these night levels. They could have easily used Knuckles as the character for the night time missions which would make perfect sense. It would have also given Knuckles a role in the game. Doing this would have changed little in terms of storyline but I digress.

When it comes to the daylight stages in the game I have to say I am impressed. This is by far the best 3d game to capture Sonic's speed. The best part is that most of the time it is very fun to play. I say most of the time because there are a few sections in the game that are extremely annoying and that goes for night time stages as well. The daylight stages play somewhat like you are on a track most of the time however it never feels like that as you have many many different paths to take and rest assured you are in complete control most of the time. The speed at which you go through some of the stages is mind boggling. Like I said this game captures Sonic's speed very very well.

When it comes to storyline well. The game has one. It's nothing bad or good it's just kinda there. It revolves around Dr. Eggman waking up a evil being known as Dark Gaia which can control the way people feel at night and plots to destroy the world and it's up to Sonic to stop it. Like I said nothing special but Sonic fans will enjoy it nonetheless.

On the negative side the game like I said earlier does have a bit of slow down. Also there are a few horribly designed stages both night time and day time throughout the game that will be sure to annoy and frustrate you. However they are few and far between so it's not really a deal breaker. There are also still a few control issues in the game but they aren't nearly as bad as past games in the series. Also the final series of battles are incredibly annoying and seem to go on forever.

If you can get over the few problems I mentioned then you will surely enjoy yourself and fans of the Sonic franchise are in for a treat. By all means I would highly suggest giving the game a rental at least.