Persona 4: Arena – Review
Follow Genre: Beat 'em up
Developers: Arc System Works and Atlus
Publisher: Zen United (EU), Atlus (US/JP)
Platform: PS3 & Xbox 360

Persona 4: Arena – Review

Site Score
9.1
Good: Deep battle system, great music, big diversity in characters, nice challenge mode
Bad: Some small issues in the online mode
User Score
8.2
(6 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.2/10 (6 votes cast)

Persona 4 is well known for its great RPG, but this time you’ll find the Persona 4 characters in an other genre: beat ’em up. That this game is created by the makers of Blazblue will probably convince the beat ’em up fans to try out this game, but does this game offer enough for the fans of Persona 4 itself? The answer to this is: definitely!

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Story:

The story mode starts one year after the original Persona 4, when the characters plan to spend the vacation together. There are rumours going around that the midnight channel is active on television again. The midnight channel becomes active on a rainy night and from what we’ve learned from Persona 4, is that the next person who’s shown on the channel, is about to die. Of course everyone is curious about this, since everyone was convinced that they solved this case last year. During the next rainy night everyone gathers around its television and there it is: A commercial starts and this time it’s not just one person in the commercial. This time all Persona 4 characters are involved. The commercial shows a big fighting tournament, the P-1 Grand Prix, organised by Teddie where they all fight each other. This makes them all very suspicious, especially since Teddie himself is missing.

The characters agree to go into the television world again, just like last year. During the story you’ll play the role of one of the many characters and experience the story from his or her perspective. During your playthrough you’ll meet a few of the other characters. They all act very strange and aggressive, resulting in a fight between them while Teddie serves as the host of the fight. These fights only consist of 1 round since the story itself is the main part of this mode. Of course you want to find out why Teddie is acting so strange and why he organised this tournament. He would never make his friends fight each other…

The complete story of Persona 4 Arena is really great and on top of that, every character has its own perspective on the storyline. To find out the real ending of the story, you’ll have to finish the story mode with multiple characters and this makes the story mode a must play for the fans of Persona 4. For those who just want to play the beat ’em up itself, the story mode isn’t really advised. Luckily there is the arcade mode, where fighting is the main objective for those who aren’t really interested in the story.

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Graphics:

At first glance, it’s a bit weird to see black borders around your screen, even on a standard 1080p screen. A bit strange that the size doesn’t auto-adapt to your screen resolution. Luckily there’s the option to change the resolution of the game and remove these black borders.

Once you get rid of these borders, it’s time to find out about the real graphics. Those who’ve played Persona 4 will feel pretty familiar with the cutscenes in the story mode. A static background while the speaking characters are shown in front of it. Rarely there is a short, but very good looking, anime video between the conversations.

Now the more important part of the graphics: the in-game graphics. The Persona 4-characters are well transferred to the beat ’em up platform, including every character’s Persona. Each character has his own finishing move which looks so good that you want to use it whenever you are able to! Those who’ve played Persona 4 might also recognise some of the various battle arenas, since a lot of them situate themselves in the high school of the characters. The small effects in the background, like window-curtains moving from incoming wind, makes each battle arena more living and styleful.

Also the GUI is worth mentioning. Even while there is a lot of information on your screen, everything stays very clear. There are bars to show your health, current TP, remaining persona usages and your current status ailments. All this information is visualised in a very cartoony way, and makes it look less like a necessary element.

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Sound:

You have the possibility to select the English or the Japanese voices and both sound pretty good. Most of the dialogues in the story mode are spoken, which is a great plus for a long story mode like this. Especially the quote “Welcome to the Velvet room” will feel very nostalgic for those who’ve played Persona 4.

The music is mostly Japanese rock/punk and some Japanese pop with a huge production value. There’s nothing bad that can be said about the soundtrack.

Gameplay:

The game starts with a extensive lesson mode. In 46 lessons you’ll learn all the basics of the game. After that, there’s the story mode or the arcade mode to try out what you’ve just learned. Those who’ve played Blazblue will definitely see some influences by that game, but that can only be a good thing right? The battle system of Persona 4 Arena is very enhanced. Almost every attack can be countered in some way, which delivers a very fast and challenging gameplay. Every character has 2 simple moves: lower and upper. Above that, each character has 2 stronger moves where his or her Persona comes in. When your or your opponents persona gets hit 4 times, it will result in a Persona Break. Once a Persona Break occurs, you (or your opponent) won’t be able to perform your persona moves anymore. Thus it is advised to use your persona moves wisely, otherwise you’ll only be able to use your basic moves.

Then there is also the TP meter. This TP meter fills when you deliver and receive damage. This TP is used to perform some of the stronger moves in the game and your finishing move. When you are playing your final round to win the game, you are able to perform a finishing move which will utilise a full TP meter. This finishing move will make you instantly win the round and thus the game.

Above that some of the characters are able to give its opponent a status ailment like shocked or frozen. These status ailments make you unable to move, perform attacks, etc… You’ll need to learn which character can perform which ailments to be able to anticipate on this as soon as possible.

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The biggest advantage of Persona 4 is the diversity in playstyles of the characters. Almost every characters feels and plays completely different. Some characters play very fast and have a large variety of air attacks, while others are slower but have very strong ground attacks. This diversity makes it possible for every player to choose the playstyle which he or she prefers the most.

Persona 4 Arena offers a lot more than the regular Story and Arcade mode. The first extra mode is the Score Attack mode. In this mode you’ll need perform as much combo’s as possible to increase your score as high as possible before winning the fight. An other mode is the challenge mode. In this mode you’ll need to perform some given combos for your chosen character. The challenges start easy by combos of 2 or 3 moves, but about 10 challenges later you’ll need to perform combos of 6-10 moves long. These are incredibly hard to master, but once you’ve mastered them, you’ll be ready for the online (and very though) world!

The online mode offers ranked and unranked matches. Each ranked match rewards you experience (and a big bonus for winning a battle) which increases your level. This level is used in the matchmaking system to find an equal opponent for you. During our testing, the matchmaking had still some problems finding a good opponent though. While we were the lowest level (F-) we regularly got an opponent of a way higher level (A-). This didn’t happen too many times though. We also encountered some strange lag. Before the battle starts, it looks like the game is going in slow-motion mode. Luckily this lag disappeared most of the times before the actual battle starts, but it happened sometimes during the first few seconds of the battle. Let’s hope that this can be resolved pretty soon.

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Conclusion:

Persona 4 Arena brings the Persona 4 cast alive in an awesome beat ’em up. A very deep and challenging battle system, combined with a lot of diversity in the playable characters, makes this a beat ’em up for every fan of the genre. Also for the fans of Persona 4 itself, Arena comes with an addition to the original story with a great and long story mode. Challenge and Score attack mode add some extra playtime to the game, but what will keep you playing this game for a long time is the online ranked mode. Let’s just hope they can get the small issues fixed soon to make the online mode as great as the offline mode.

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Rating: 8.2/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
Persona 4: Arena - Review, 8.2 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | Contest – Persona 4 Arena
    May 28, 2013, 2:39 pm

    […] If you require more information about the game, our review can be found by clicking here. […]

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