Review: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax – Getting the Sho on the Road

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

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Writers Note: Please note there are going to be a LOT of Persona based puns in this and their “typos” are fully intended.

Pros:
-New fighters and rebalancing of old make combat much easier to find the fun with
-Continued story from where Persona 4 Arena left off allows for a more flushed out storyline
-New arenas and gutsier conversations leave even more fun to be had
-Persona 3 Midnight Hour Fog enters the Sho for a blast from the past scenario
-No log playing online, which allows for a lot more fun
-Constant DLC support adds for a great and enjoyable time with the game.

Cons:
-Instant-kills to newcomers can still be challenging and somewhat hard to learn
-Some characters can still be seen as overpowering or troublesome
-Storylines are much shorter than before putting focus on the Persona 4
-Combat between storyline scenes can be unbearable for some to take notice too

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 If you are like many fans out there, Persona is a series that rings a bell among JRPG fans and sets the mood for very dark, but enjoyable storylines. This happened last year when many players got their hands on Persona 4 Arena, a game that had shown itself as a title that has a rather enjoyable storyline that seemed to set the mood for many others. This hasn’t changed with Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, which has set the lights, made the mood bearable, and prepares to turn the dial on those TV’s for the sho to begin.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was developed by both Atlus and co-developer Arc System Works, which have gone out of their way to bring a story that is a direct follow up from the past title and once more links Persona 3 and 4 together. Doing this we are introduced to the newest group of fighters to enter the sho, which could be quite enjoyable for those who want to eat some pho while playing! These new fighters include two new versions of the games antagonist Sho Minazuki (with a persona or without a persona, he’s enjoyable); a Rise Kujikawa that has found her ability to fight; baseball bat and uniform clad Junpei, Ken, and Yukari. all of these fighters do bring in a new round-about way to fight as well as their capability to be rather strong contestants within the P-1 Climax. For those wanting more characters Adachi and Marie are both available for a limited time for free or are 5 USD each. Players will also be able to obtain Margarate as of now. We are sure more fighters will make way soon. On Top of the regular fighters, players can also choose a ‘shadow’ character mode that will change their fighting capabilities, but also the elements of how the fighting engine will act. This is something that players can take advantage of within the game itself.

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 Stepping away from the new line up as well as the changes that have been made, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax also offers a continued story mode, which is separated between both Persona 4 (which has to be completed first) and Persona 3, but also any downloadable characters that the game may get storylines for. The only one that has a current storyline out of the DLC characters is Adachi himself. For those that complete the storyline, there is a new mode available called Golden Arena. This “arena mode” can be amounted to what many fighting games have done before, which is a scaling tower, but in this case a special one: the Tower of what seems to be Tartarus that was experienced in Persona 3.

So lets take a look at this mode since it is the only mode that has not been repeated through this game as well as the previous title. In the Golden Arena, players will adventure through dungeons that are filled to the brim with enemies, which will require players to level up and increase stats to become a better fighter. For those interested, the old screen from leveling up has made a return, and can easily be seen as one that has made a return. This is definitely a throwback that can be appreciated. The biggest change compared to other tower modes that have been seen in games such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and many others, is that this is a survival mode that will not require health and energy management. Instead you will have the ability to customize your stats as before, which allows you to also pick up skills, and adjust your character overall to your play style.

Just as before, this is at its core a fighting game, which does mean multiplayer, and offline game modes are something that will be at the main focus. This time, just like last time, players can enter a virtual arcade of sorts. Here you will be able to edit a Persona-esque avatar and search for matches as well as lobbies. This is something that’s actually quite fun as players go through familiar environments and match information for matches going on around them. The only issue? It’s only available for the PlayStation 3, which means this is where the core experience will be sitting for those that want a unique take on the game. Sorry Microsoft players, there doesn’t seem to be plans for this to head there, which is unfortunate.  The game also seeks to enhance the player profiles, which is rather nice since the customization is a bit easier to go through with this time around. This doesn’t seem something that won’t be enjoyable as the time spent to make a unique profile can take some time and be rather hysterical in the process. So why not get your Sho on the road and see if you can become the beary strongest to enter the arena?

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 As it comes down to its care as we said before, this game at its heart is a fighting game, which means people wanting to enjoy a solid fight are the ones whom are at the ones to focus upon outside of the campaign. The biggest draw here will be the expanded roster, the rebalancing that has been done to make characters such as Naoto seem not as broken, but also the new system that has taken place within the game itself with the shadow variants. Those shadow variants that were mentioned before are unique since they do not have a burst mode that will be a last ditch effort when close to losing, but instead they have a Frenzy. This frenzy allows them special abilities, which can only be used during frenzy. The issue here is that they can constantly use them and will require their opponent to rather quickly change their play styles to match these frenzy moves.

Now onto the new characters we you may want to know more about such as Ken and Koromaru, Sho Minazuki, Junpei, Rise, and Marie. Adachi is one that seemed and will remind many of a mix between Naoto Yosuke, which is a rather nice fighting style since it’s fast, aggressive and does not leave room for attacking. Sho Minazuki is one that is actually rather interesting thanks to his very aggressive dual wielding attacks that can put players on edge and have to think quickly as well as defensively. His persona version is just as dangerous thanks to the addition of its grim form that stands within the distance. Junpei is easily one of the most admirable out of the new additions thanks to his baseball uniform clad self fits the role of how clumsy he tends to be. Brandishing his baseball bat, quick attacks, and medium range; Junpei can easily dispatch enemies at both close and mid range without an issue. This is partially due to the buffs he can obtain landing certain hits or combos. His persona also helps with this issue. The most interesting out of these is Ken and his canine pal Koromaru. With them making an entrance to the game, players will notice that Koromaru has his own HP bar, this can be expected since he acts on his own as a companion that’s always summoned, but this does not limit Ken from being a rather harsh adversary to fight. Rise as expected uses a microphone stand as her personal weapon, which fits to her role as a singer, but this also goes to state that her persona actually fits its role quite well. Giving her a close range advantage just as it should.

The most interesting character to some will be Marie. As a host for many of the problems that can go on within the Velvet Room and the world outside of it, she fits her role perfectly. With an advantage as a “trap” character; Marie will easily be one for players to lure enemies into her traps and then dispatch them, this is something that will easily put players into a troublesome spot compared to before. This will easily put their shadow versions as something that many players will find themselves gritting their teeth at once they enter the arena.

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 With all that aside, the game overall has come to a very unique place thanks to the games story mode, which leaves place for a possible third entry or even a tie in to a future title. With the Kirijo Shadow Operatives and the Investigation Team being at the helm of the story, players will easily find out what has occurred, what drove the sho to once more show up on the Midnight Channel and why this new antagonist has come out of his hidey hole. This will definitely leave many players wanting more, which is something that can be quite deserving for a series that has easily earned itself a spot upon any BlazBlue or Persona fan’s shelves.

So what rating did we decide to give this new sho on the Midnight Channel? A solid 8 out of 10 channels.

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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