Review: Persona 4 Arena – Taking a Step into the Ring

Originally Published on the Official Blast Away the Game Review Facebook Page
Written by Dustin Murphy

Persona 4 Arena Cover Art

-Story that intertwines seamlessly between Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden
-Beautifully crafted anime-esque graphic novel telling and seamless fighting
-Each character styles variate based on their persona leaving no-one character the same.
-Online multiplayer is lag free and very well coded making international play amazing
-The unfortunate region locking makes it hard for other countrie to obtain it if they want it in Japanese

-Navigators are obtainable through DLC and a lot of hard work for players willing to put in time and effort.
-Screen size matching tends to be a bit more difficult than it should be. Unfortunately the scaling options aren’t 1080p friendly for a 16:9 T.V. This can be fixed by screen type changes in the options.

Persona 4 Arena Animation Cutscene Naoto

 When the name Shin Megami Tensai or Persona is mentioned, the idea of one of the most famous JRPG franchises of all time comes to mind for many of us, and so does the traditional and highly memorable soundtrack’s to each title. After taking the time to take a brunt blow of criticism and anger from eager gamers, ‘Persona 4 Arena: The Ultimate Mayonaka Arena’ can come to mind, this was mostly because of European fans having to wait to get their hands upon the title, which carried on events from both Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden.

Unlike before, which we can call Persona 4 Golden, Arena takes place two months after the events we knew of, the solving of mysterious and deadly murders by someone using the mysterious Midnight Channel. However, that is not all. In the game we also get to once more see Mitsuru Kirijo of the Kirijo group and her Shadow Operatives have been included upon their own causes and reasons. The story, however, starts off with Yu coming back for Golden Week to see his friends, but unfortunately, a twist of events have happened. The group is one more forced to reform their Investigation Team and seeks to find out why and how the Midnight Channel is back, and why they have seen themselves as the main contestants. With that stated, the game takes off and it does it well. It truly feels like a Persona game crossed with BlazBlue, which is a wonderful combination that is executed well. Many of the beginnings are rather long, well scripted, and fill much of the story that has not lost its rather well paced track. This game gives you all a perfect chance to once more enjoy your favorite characters, Teddie, Chie, Yosuke, Yukiko Kanji, Akihiko and many many more.

Persona 4 Arena Teddie Screenshot

 The difference this time around is that we are not playing a JRPG, not battling those infamous shadows, but also aren’t going to be planning out your next move to pop items or heal your group. This time around you will be smashing your buttons, learning combos, and learning when to block against your characters friends in a story. The combat is fast paced, furious, and does not try to slow down at all as players manage to move from fight to fight in this campaign, which once more, pits the sanity of our favorite and most beloved characters to a test one at a time.

In this game each character has their unique ‘shadow’ we’ve come to know as their Persona’s awakened. With a fighting style that matches it, many players will find themselves thrashing their friends around without any form of hesitation – some of these thrashings will include tying in your basic combo in with a persona summon in order to deal just that much more damaged. The thing with the combat is that it feels fluid as well as natural for each of the characters we’ve come to know. This is what makes it feel rather well presented as players take on this game that enjoys several things; a detailed anime art style, but also the games rather well crafted pacing when it comes to both story and fights. Fortunately for many, the game also has a rather enjoyable announced set up of people to choose from, by default, Rise-chan.

Persona 4 Aigis Screenshot

 As each battle is completed, the fights explain a very in depth story that seems Atlus had crafted just for this purpose, and has done so beautifully. The game displays this rather elegantly when the combat is in action, but the cut scenes to fill in the story are a rather welcomed sight to help fulfill the games storyline. Each fight, much like the cutscenes or the graphic novel moments, are the well known Japanese Rock songs, which were presented within Persona 4 Golden. This is something that bodes well for the game itself and keeps that breath of fresh air that we were given each time that Persona 4 Golden started up.

The game does offer several things away from the games main campaign. Players who would like to enjoy a story that is not related to the story mode, Arcade offers them this option and allows players to take out their deepest frustrations out and take onto a rather brutal and non-stop combat scenario. This is something that will easily resemble the games multiplayer mode that will more than likely hold players over thanks to Arc System Works and their well designed netcode. With this being acknowledged, the game allows for a multiplayer that is seamless and without lag. This is something that also made the game a very welcomed sight and allowed for countless hours pushed into the multiplayer alone. With that being said the game shows how much content there is between Arcade, Training, Challenge Mode and well the Story itself.

Persona 4 Arena Kanji vs Mitsuru

 The game itself is not hard to learn once players have undertaken the basics and begin to learn them. This is something that is rather easy and surprising complex at the same time. The games basic system is all that is there, which is simple, learning how to move, tie in combos, dodge, block, and learning when to attack and not to attack so to take out the enemies Persona, but also to cancel any possible chances they have of locking you into a corner or one of their cruel combos. Though the game isn’t as easy as it sounds thanks to the intricate combo system that will allow enemies to use instant kills, special attacks and their harsh ability to keep one pinned and anticipating an opening for assault that may or may not occur.

Unlike what you may or may not know, the game itself follows the rather well known formula that almost every fighting game does; combat is fast, furious, and unrelenting, but at the same time newcomer friendly. This is something that Arc System Works did and did well. With the online though is where we should focus thanks to the campaign being rather self explanatory and spoiler free as everything unravels. With the online, I was able to experience multiple online modes thanks to the games well found crowd around the world that still seems rather alive, but it was not easy, and at times the fighters whom you will encounter are rather skilled, lethal, and do not stop their rather quick attack without any form of hesitation. This is something that the game could have counterbalanced by allowing players to seek out matches that will pit them against players with a rather common skill level and win to lose ratio, but this far into the release that is something that may or may not be possible due to the newest entry being out.

Persona 4 Matchup Screen

 With each character, the game does feature multiple play styles, which allows each character to be unique, the best example that can be made is Naoto whom favors long range, quick attacks, and burst combo’s in order to ensure her victory while characters such as Kanji who prefer upclose, brutal, and slow combat that can deal massive amounts of damage in one swift go. All the while, characters such as Chie, Teddie, and even Elizabeth can manage quick attacks that are brutal, quick, and will lock their opponents into a corner.

Thankfully these combos are not something that players should feel as if they are locked into – Atlus has seemingly made this something that players can easily counter by timing their attacks, blocking, and remembering that any opening is a chance for them to take a brutal beating. In the long run, there was nothing that has disabled this game from being fun, entertaining, and addicting. This game easily builds upon the two story arcs that are given to players to pursue and does it in a sense that now that the second title is out, players will be craving more, and will easily find a reason to once more enjoy the world that has been rather cleverly crafted around them.

So what do we believe this game has earned? With only a few technical hitches such as region locking, minor unbalancing, and a need for a better screen scaling system from 720p, the game itself fuels a need for this game to be in the industry, and can easily place hopes for players that the game itself will hopefully see later versions now that the PlayStation 4 and XBox One, supporting 1080p at 16:9.

With all that being said, Persona 4 Arena easily beats its opponents out of the way for a score of… 8 out of face breaking 10.

About the Writer:

DustinMurphyDustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

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