Editorial: Rank Up!

For the past three months, I have been playing Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. This isn’t a rant about games that are too long – you can just look at Ethan’s latest post for that, and it doesn’t apply here anyway. Rather, it’s a short, casual impression of my thoughts on the game that will serve as a precursor to my upcoming review.

I doubt I need to tell anyone this, but Persona 4 plays almost identically to 2007’s Persona 3. This isn’t a bad thing though, and a few tweaks have been made here and there to ensure the game doesn’t feel like a beefed-up port. One of the first things you’ll notice is that the storytelling aspects have been improved, which is a very welcome thing indeed. Persona 3‘s biggest flaw was the pacing of the main storyline, which occasionally would sit still for months without a worthwhile development. Persona 4 has its slow spots as well but they aren’t nearly as offensive as they were in its predecessor.

Thank god Atlus wised up and implemented manual control for party members in P4. The stupidity displayed by the A.I in P3 was astonishing, often causing me to scream at my television set in rage. They would burn through SP like it was infinite, attack when they should heal, and refuse to ever, EVER cure status ailments. This meant that, during many of the tougher boss battles, the protagonist become nothing more than a healer/ailment-remover himself, simply because he was the only one we could trust to do it consistently.

And how about those social links, eh? Few other games allow you to build and maintain such a compelling social life. The social links in Persona 4 are possibly the most enjoyable aspects of the game. It’s amusing to consider what it would be like if real-life relationships worked the way they do in the Persona series. No, seriously; think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t it be nice if random schoolmates regularly walked up and introduced themselves with a smile, deciding right then and there that they wanted to be your friend? Wouldn’t it be nicer still if these same people would literally line the hallways, just waiting for their chance to ask you to hang out with them? It gets better still: each and every one of them just so happens to have some complex emotional problem that they deal with on a daily basis. And who is there to help them deal with and eventually overcome these problems? You, of course. This infallibly makes you a friend for life. And in the case of the female social links, (or most of them anyway) well, let’s just say you’re in like flynn. And I’ve always hated that phrase, but it seems the most appropriate.

Speaking of said female social links, Persona 4 once again allows you to acquire and keep multiple girlfriends at a time. In fact, it seems even easier this time around – I just got my fourth, and I’ve never pissed off a single one in the process. Amusingly, P4 lets you choose to either stay friends or “become intimate,” which begs the question of why, exactly anyone would choose the former. It’s not like you’re rewarded with an R-rated sex scene or anything like that, it’s just because… y’know… you can. And isn’t the point of gaming to do stuff you can’t in real life?

That’s how I look at it, in any case. How about you guys? Anyone out there who became intimate with one and only one female during the course of the game? Anyone else find themselves wishing relationships were as comically simplistic as they are here? Anyone else think Persona 4‘s greatest fault is the lack of a certain Mitsuru Kirijo?

0 comments on “Editorial: Rank Up!”

  1. I really need to pick this game up. I’m watching the Endurance run over at Giant Bomb and it looks pretty awesome.

  2. I am sad to say I have not played any of the persona games. I have watched my friend Timmy play P4 which seemed to be interesting, he beat it in like a week in a half…that guy is crazy.

  3. Yeah, that IS crazy.

    I recommend the series to anyone, even those with qualms over long games. In this case, it’s worth the investment of time.

  4. Just a reminder, since Facebook didn’t make it clear enough, I HATE YOU. You stole my editorial! Even though mine was written days before yours, I STILL HATE YOU. XD

    But I really did like this piece, Oliver. <3

  5. I note that in P4 they actually don’t line the halls as much…What’s wrong with them, who wouldn’t wanna spend time with someone like Protagonist?

    On a whole, I actually didn’t like the social links as much in P4 though. Most of them were downright boring, or ridiculous. Also, no sex scene for girls at rank 10?

    Fail. What’s the point of the M-Rating otherwise?

  6. A far better use of time than Flower, that much is certain. At least Oliver has his priorities in the right place.

  7. Lusi you seem to have a vendetta against flower, an unwarranted vendetta actually.

  8. He just has his priorities right.

    I’m gonna be getting P4 some time this week and look forward to more of the comedic simplicity of the social links. To be honest however, I’m rather glad that RL social interaction isn’t like this, as the last thing I would ever want is to have people linning up to tell me their problems, with me only able to say yes or no. That is my definition of hell.

  9. Flower or Persona 4 is not really a fair comparison to make. Flower is a downloadable game with a few hours of gameplay. Person 4 is a beast of a game that can take up to 100 hours or more to beat.

    I am going to say I find the article Ethos wrote about game length and say I would prefer to play Flower.

    This is not me saying I think Persona 4 is bad!

  10. No… this is Lee Gordon, the Flowery Fanboy.

    Seriously, I haven’t played it myself, but it almost seems like the game casts some kind of mind-controlling spell on those who do. Why else would Lee say ridiculous things like “Flower is worth a PS3 purchase” or “Flower is better than Persona 4”?

    Soon, I will play it myself, and final judgment will be passed. Until then, I must side with Shawn.

  11. Flower is amazing and until you play it you can not comment!

    I doubt there is such a thing as a Flower fanboy, but if there is I am glad I am classed as one.

  12. Side with Shawn? There is no side. There is the “you haven’t played it” side, and that does not count as an opinion on the game. Just like I can’t say it’s better than P4 because I haven’t played P4. I can only say it’s the best game I’ve played since Shadow of the Colossus.

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