Friday, October 16, 2009

Persona 3: FES (The Journey & The Answer) Review

I got Persona 3: FES not too long ago. Since that post I've finished P4 a second time and gotten through both parts of P3:FES, The Journey and The Answer.

The Journey is a REALLY long game. I tend to actually read text in games and not make a mad dash through though, so it probably would take other people less than ~110 hours.

Climbing the 200+ floor tower Tartarus is harder than the dungeons in P4 on the Normal difficulty setting. The party member AI can't be set to manual and when Yukari uses a Medicine (cures 50HP for one party member) instead of Mediarahan (fully restores HP, all party members) when three people are missing 350HP it can be aggravating. I don't know where Yukari gets the Medicines by the way, I sold all the ones in my inventory hoping to stop her to no avail. And yes, she had SP to cast magic.

The floors that have guardians also tended to be more difficult as well. Where in P4 you would want single target debuffs (there's rarely more than one enemy in boss fights), full party buffs, and elemental magic that hits all enemies P3 varies significantly. Most boss fights are versus several targets, so you want multi-target debuffs, full party buffs, and single target elemental magic.

The reason for single target magic is twofold. First, it misses less often and seems to have higher overall accuracy. Second, because if you target three monsters only two of which are weak to fire, hit all three with a fire spell, you don't get an extra turn. If you cast single target fire on the two weak to it, and then struck the third's weakness, you'd have all three knocked down and be able to launch an All-Out attack and probably end the fight right there with the massive damage. Striking previously knocked down enemies also makes them get up rather than potentially inflicting Dizzy like it does in P4, so it's undesirable as well.

There's also none of the Social Link benefits from P4 such as party members taking mortal blows or providing follow-up attacks to knock down (or kill) additional enemies.

So, suffice it to say that P3:FES The Journey is definitely a harder game than P4.

But what about the characters and story? Those are things that a lot of people play JRPGs for, right? P4 seemed to start at a good pace, drag out a bit, and then finish pretty strong (with a few problems). P3:FES started with a bunch of weird, dark, and interesting stuff, but then just kind of tells you to climb Tartarus, hangout with various people to level your Social Links, and to go into the Velvet Room to fuse new Personas. You'll probably be at least 20 hours into it until the characters have figured out what was pretty obvious when it first started happening. If not 30 hours or more.

If you like dungeon crawling and a little grinding you probably won't mind climbing Tartarus just for the sake of exploration. Also, some of the Social Links are genuinely interesting, funny, and sometimes really touching. But I don't see why the story couldn't have gotten going a bit sooner. Once it gets interesting though it stays pretty good up to the very end.

If you enjoyed however much time you put into The Journey, and you like being kicked in the balls with steel-toed boots, then you'll love The Answer. It's only available on Hard Difficultly. And boy, is it ever!

The most immediately noticeable difference is that your accuracy in combat fell down a flight of stairs and head first into a toilet. You will miss constantly. And you'll very quickly realize the benefits of higher accuracy single target elemental magic (despite how much more SP it uses up).

Social Links are gone entirely. The story advances by progressing through the dungeon. If you thought the story in The Journey was dark and depressing you'll be surprised how much more dark and depressing it actually was than you knew. You'll also get to learn a bit more about the character's back stories and see a few events from different angles. But if you make it all the way through you will be rewarded.

Perhaps the most shocking change to The Answer would be the lack of a Persona Compendium. You can't register and resummon Personas as often as your wallet permits. If you can make an awesome Persona fusing Persona A with Persona B, and you can make an awesome Persona fusing Persona A with Persona C, then you've got to choose one or the other. (Or go fight random battles until you find another Persona A afterwards.) This mechanic does sort of lend itself to the kind of "survival" situation the gang finds themselves in. From a purely gameplay perspective, however, I was not happy to find out there would be no compendium.

So, to wrap things up if you like JRPGs you will probably like Persona 3:FES, and if you have a PS2 lying around and haven't played it you can get it new for ~$15US on Amazon which isn't much of a risk. You might seriously consider just going to Youtube to watch The Answer's cutscenes. It is pretty goddamned brutal.

NOTE: This needs to be proofread and is undoubtedly full of spelling and grammar mistakes. I'll see to that in the morning. :-p

1 comment:

  1. I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to P3:Portable where they pulled in a few of the gameplay additions to P4 (including a manually controllable party). I want to play through The Journey (and maybe even The Answer) again to catch a bunch of the stuff I missed, but I don't know if I could go back to playing P3 after getting used to P4 (which I agree is much easier).

    And yeah, Yukari's AI is a blooming idiot sometimes.