The Gold of JRPGs (E3 2012)
Persona 4 was one of the best games on the PS2 and easily one of the top JRPGs in the history of gaming, standing at 90% on Metacritic. When I found out it was being ported to the PS Vita with additional features, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Atlus's Aram Jabbari gave me a great Persona 4 Golden interview about the game during E3 and showed me a working version on the PS Vita. Persona 4 looks absolutely stunning and crisp on the portable screen.
The game starts off with our protagonist heading to the city of Inaba to stay with his uncle, Dojima, who is a police detective. Shortly upon his arrival, two women are brutally murdered. There are rumors that watching the television at midnight on a rainy day will reveal the soulmate of the watcher. From there, the game expands into one of the most intriguing, creepy, and at the same, amazing stories I've ever experienced. It's a hardcore RPG mixed with social simulation elements. If you haven't played the original, you owe it to yourself to pick up this port when it releases.
If you have, you'll want to know what's new. First off, there's a beautiful new opening cutscene. There's also 40% new voice dialogue in Persona 4 Golden, remastered audio, bonus video content, plus an all-new chapter described as a ski-resort trip your characters go on. This will be different from the epilogue style chapter added in Persona 3: FES in that the new content will be about spending more time with the cast and developing the story further, rather than a whole new dungeon.
The menus can be accessed via touch screen, though no new "invasive" content will be incorporated as to maintain the feel of the original game. The music is back, and it's as catchy and moving as in the original. Literally, there are days I line up the tracks from Persona 4 and get into a groove while I work.
For those unfamiliar with the gameplay, Persona 4 is similar to Persona 3, with turn-based combat. What makes the game unique are the Personas the characters can call on which grant special powers. These Personas are similar to summoned spirits, drawn from the myths and religions of cultures throughout history. They can be fused and powered up for additional abilities that are crucial in fending off the many monsters / shadows of the game. Persona 4 Golden may be hard if you try to rush your way through. Strategize, plan carefully, and the battle system will be rewarding.
I really don't want to spoil anything from the story, as it's so much fun with lots of unexpected plot twists. The character interactions are deeply immersive, as are the social links you develop with the NPCs of the world. This is a definite must-play for anyone who's not only a fan of JRPGs, but good games in general. Look for Persona 4: Golden for the PS Vita in the Fall of this year.
He has been working in film and games for over a decade. On his off time, he likes to travel the world. His short story collection, Watering Heaven, was just published by Signal 8 Press.
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