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   Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES - Reader Review  

Persona-fi-Me!
by Jared Prewitt

Click here for game information
PLATFORM
PS2
BATTLE SYSTEM
4
INTERACTION
5
ORIGINALITY
5
STORY
5
MUSIC & SOUND
5
VISUALS
4
CHALLENGE
Hard
COMPLETION TIME
More than 80 Hours
OVERALL
5.0/5
+ Engaging storylines and admirable characters
+ Social links offer players to interact with NPCs as well as encourage replay value
+ Huge variety of demon fusions to make
- Maxing out social stats and getting tired in battle becomes tedious and frustrating at times
- Cannot control other characters
Click here for scoring definitions 

   At the stroke of midnight, time freezes for a chosen few. Persona 3: FES emphasis on the Dark Hour and the ordeals that the protagonists undertake, enthralling players into the immersive story that causes gamers to wonder what is real or not. Persona 3: FES is a spinoff of the main Shin Megami Tensei series, but this third installment into the Persona franchise does not disappoint. The RPG redefines the Shin Megami Tensei series by allowing players to experience a tale that proposes both questions and answers to the world they are in as well as the possibility of what lies within.

   The story centers on the silent main protagonist who has lost his parents in a accident. Upon walking the streets of Tokyo, the main character, as well as the player, notice that there is somthing amiss once the time hits midnight. The main character arrives at a dorm where he meets a group of young Gekkoukan High School students in which he soon enrolls into. His life drastically changes when he is put into a precarious situation in which he has to help his friends. Upon doing so, he unleashes a power called a Persona, which is a demon like entity that is summoned upon command. Aside from juggling school and extracuricular activities, the protagonits unites with his fellow dorm mates, Yukari, Akihiko, and Mitsuru to name a few, through a group known as SEES. The group's purpose is to eliminate the shadows that come alive in a mysterious tower called, Tartarus. The team's journey into the dungeon allows them to discover the truth, about the Dark Hour, as well as what the future holds. The game is split into two parts. The first half is called, The Journey. The second part is known as The Answer. The Journey must be finished first in order to understand the events of the enjoyable second chapter.

"Knock, knock!" "Knock, knock!"

   The remarkable story compliments the battle system. The battle system is setup in the standard turn base style where the player can only control the protagonist. The rest of the group can be told what to do through certain strategic commands, but their actions reflect both part of the prompted command and their individual personality. At times, gamers will become frustrated upon not being able to control them, but the AI is quick to remedy some mistakes. Unfortunately, players might experience aggravation whenever their characters become tired in battle, forcing the player to cease battling and do other stuff, like working on Social Links, after school or on a day off. Along with the turn base combat, gamers are able to strenghthen their power through demon summoning. Demon summoning is a classic convention that the Shin Megami Tensei series is known for. The dark visuals and artwork initiated in battle upon using a demon captivates gamers to use powerful attacks in order to decimate their foes. But the monsters are referred to as Persona, and carry the same distinct attributes as the creatures do in the other games. The Personas are acquired after battle where a mini game ensues in which the gamer looks at five cards and picks the one they want after they rotate. If a Persona is chosen, players obtain the new minion and can fuse that monster with another in order to make stronger demons whenever they visit the mysterious Velvet Room.

   Social Links is a major component in making the game very interactive and entertaining. Whenever gamers are not fighting, the protagonist can talk to various class members, as well as people outside of the school, and trigger an event in which they can socialize with the individual in order to raise the Social Link rank up to level 10. Each person and event is different with the character's own set of personality flaws and comical aspects. The events become setup like a dating simulation where players decide whether or not they want to go on dates with the character or not. The Social Link feature helps to strengthen and allow gamers to acquire more powerful Personas later in the game when the main character becomes stronger. Social Link completion is essential in order to advance the plot forward and be strong enough in order to take out ferocious enemies. Visually, the events are influenced in an anime style sequence where certain quirks and gestures mimic the conventions of modern day Japanese Animation. The game's interaction with the Social Links contributes with the musical score as electric guitar, piano, and techno enhance the experience. The music helps to set the tone and mood for various events and helps to intensify and capitalize on the story's main dramatic elements.

"I said take off your shoes before entering!  Ah, that "I said take off your shoes before entering! Ah, that's a good boy."

   The RPG boasts its originality with corporation of the Social Link system and the deeply enriching story that the player undertakes. Persona 3: FES expands on the previous version, enlightening gamers to try out the new features added to the FES edition. The game also sets the stage for the continuation to The Journey, giving players the opportunity to gets some questions answered. The FES expansion makes the RPG more than 80 hours for fans to complete along with the incentive to finish up the Social Links on the next playthrough.

   Persona 3: FES is an RPG that cannot be missed. It is a highly recommended title that evolves the Shin Megami Tensei series. The suspenseful events and hilarious hijinks of various characters immerses players into the adventure in wanting to learn more about the changing world. The second chapter, included in the FES edition, boosts the mesmerizing quality of the original. The game's structure of focusing on a group of high school students as the hope for the future provides an everlasting impression of the RPG, proposing philsophical themes into a gaming experience that endows all.

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