Oops. I completely forgot yesterday was Friday. I would like to say "give me a break, it's winter vacation," but I can't. Since this is a new blog, I would have to be punctual.
My topic for today is Persona 3.
It's an Atlus game that's supposed to be a spinoff the Shin Megami Tensei series. I guess they're most famous for peculiar monsters/summons and cutscene lengths that would make Xenosaga cry.
I actually haven't played the other persona games (no reason as to why, I just didn't) but I picked up this one after people have been loving it. Why didn't I pick it up right when it was released like the good Atlus cult fan I'm supposed to be? Because I was too busy with Growlanser: Heritage of War and Wild Arms 5, that's why. The basic premise of the game is actually very typical.
You're (Insert first and Last name here), a recent transfer student to Gekkoukan High. You moved into a dorm with three others who attend the same high school as you do. One is the student body president, Mitsuru Kirijou, another is a girl in the same class as you, Yukari Takeba, and the last is a senior who leads the boxing club, Akihiko Sanada. You're all part of a group known as the SEES (Sorry, i forgot what the acronym stood for) who fight Shadows during the Dark Hour. What is the Dark Hour and what are these shadows? Every night, there's an extra hour between 12:00 and 12:01 that most people don't notice except for a select few. Within this hour monsters known as Shadows appear to prey on those they can find during the Dark Hour. SEES's objective is to find the cause of the Dark Hour and stop the Shadows from dealing too much damage to the world. Sounds simple right?
From the people I've met who've played this, they liked to call it a "Dungeon Crawling Dating Sim." Sure... I guess that works, except that "Dating Sim" seems to imply other things. Such as having the story revolve around the target person that you're trying to find the "ending" for. What. Were you expecting me to say something else? Dirty mind you have. While it can be generalized as such, I'd like to remind you that the story is based around the calendar and set events that happen throughout the year.
This is the trailer that's the 2nd opening to the game. So with that in mind, let me get started on gameplay.
I'll decide to address the topic that's on everyone's mind. Yes, in order to cast, you shoot yourself in the head with a gun-like object. I say gun like, since it does smoke after pulling the trigger, but no "bullet" has ever been seen coming out. X-Play decided to do a review basing all their jokes around this single concept.
The gameplay itself is very basic. It is a basic dungeon crawler save the certain events that force you to act in the "real world." The battle is pretty basic. Some nice features would be how you have someone monitoring your progress through the dungeon and can give you battle information whenever you ask. Another nice feature would be that you can tell party members outside of battle to split up, and depending on what their priority is, they'll either look for the stairs the next floor, or lay waste to the enemies. Honestly, I've rarely used this command since this would force me to fight alone if I ever get into battle and it would also be a luck of the draw as to who gets more exp than the other. The main character can switch personas, or summon type that is currently with the character, and this gives some nice room for quick and easy victories. There's a lack of controlling your teammates, but at least it's possible to set tactics for each member.
The voice acting has its ups and downs. While I would've preferred the Japanese voice actors, the english team did a great job as well. The main character has the same voice actor as Haseo from .hack//G.U. (Yuri Lowenthal)and he's not too shabby. A lot of the male voice actors are decent, some of which sound forced. I have issues with Fuuka and a couple tertiary characters but generally, the voices seem to match the characters. Aside from all the characters seeming having issues saying Mitsuru Kirijou (MITsuru KIrijou. There's no emPHAsis on the second sylLAble...), the voice acting was really well done. I especially like Iori's voice actor who seems to have had fun making sound like the laid-back typical school delinquent. Visually, everything's nice. I particularly like the extra detail that the developers put into this. For instance, everyone's wearing the winter uniforms until it hits june where everyone wears summer uniforms, and people change their clothes on Sunday, since its the day to relax and wear casual. Or the weapons change depending on which one you use.
A minor detail that bothered me was that these changes didn't affect the characters in the dungeon. They just wore the same thing every day. Then there was this one time where I made Yukari wear "High-cut Armor" with a description similar to "shaped like a bikini." So right before she equipped it she made some comment about how she had to wear something like that and asked you not to mention it at school, but her character didn't change. While it was amusing that they added that little tidbit, I was kind of wondering to myself, ok... what's the big deal? Nothing's changed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to whack off to game characters, it's just that I feel kind of cheated that they decide to put so much detail into the game only to come short.
Now for the bad parts. I personally don't mind, but I noticed how people weren't fond of the repetition of the fighting. Yes, it's really one of those "tower" games where you just keep climbing till you hit a dead end, but in terms of the game it makes perfect sense really. You're training to get stronger so that you can prepare better for the event. Yes, it's "boring and tedious" but I feel that this is another one of those games where the story is great. Even better is how the detail is placed into all the tertiary characters that you make social links with. Each person has their own personality and qualms that make the school setting that much more realistic. Agreed that they don't seem to interact with one another and only you, but still it gives a nice setting that there's people. What I noticed after one or two "months" was that there were too many people and too few days of the week and I found it amusing that I had to balance my time between clubs, my stats (courage, intelligence charm), my "friends, and training so that I'm not overpowered by the bosses.
Gameplay wise it has a very generic feel to it, but story wise, I think it's a great game. I'd definitely suggest it to those who don't mind a bit of mindless grinding to acquire nuggets of great story writing.
On a completely different side note:
Atlus is coming out with another new game known as Baroque. Art wise it looks like a combination of Shin Megami Tensei for the game graphics with some unique cel-shading that I saw in either .hack//GU or Stella Deus.
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