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  1. First of all, I'd like to state that the Shin Megami Tensei series is my favorite RPG series and that I really enjoyed playing most of them. Persona 4 (for the PS2) was my introduction to the series. Persona 4 is a game I had heard remarkable things about. It had great trailers and I really did enjoy the beginning of the game's presentation since it was mostly well-done. You learn of a murder mystery, obtain a Persona, and are set out on a quest to rescue people thrown into another world by the mysterious murderer. An interesting setting that sadly went downhill as I continued along with the game itself. The characters went from interestingly dynamic to static, the plot from mysterious to obvious, and the gameplay from novel to uninteresting. So, to start this off... Music: 4/10 The music was okay. It wasn't anything superb or attention grabbing like most Shin Megami Tensei's which usually have one or two tracks that really latch on to fans because of how ingeniously they are composed. They're by no means bad at all. They're all just forgettable.So typical of the standard RPG fare. Gameplay: 5/10 It's about time that Persona stepped-up its gameplay and allowed more than one character to be controlled at a time. The gameplay itself though doesn't have much to offer. Press-turns are back from SMT Nocturne and you can do some Japanese slapstick comedy attack as a bonus sometimes but otherwise its basic turn-based gameplay. There's a few weaker bonus attacks that individual party members can do but that's it really. The character growth system in this game is a real disappointment compared to other games in the series. To be frank, there is no thinking involved to challenge the player in their choices. An example: Of course one would pick a stronger lightning spell to replace a weaker version of the same spell. There is just no strategy or thought put into this game. It may as well have been done for the player by having these skills evolve over time. The compendium and the fusion system is more interesting but doesn't have the same charm as the fusions in other games. The fusions are essentially laid out for you and you simply need to find the ingredients of weaker monsters. A certain social link tried to make this more engaging but I found it to be a yawnfest, personally. Story: 1/10 Loved the beginning and then because of poor execution and horrible crap passed off as character development, it shot itself in the foot. You're suppose to be trying to find some killer who is supposedly kidnapping people and throwing them into a harsh world inside televisions but the game makes it completely obvious who the culprit is from the very beginning and continues to be obvious about the killer. They honestly didn't even try in this game. I was very disappointed. Anyone with common sense will eventually recognize who it is because the game just doesn't try hiding it at any length. Because of this, the main plot feels more like a nuisance than something of interest. The story isn't engaging because you will immediately recognize the forced plot stupidity to keep the story going. In a murder mystery, that is damning. I'd go on and on about why it was so obvious but that would be spoilers AND I'd rather not ruin it for people if they haven't already seen the glaring idiocy that's passed off as a mystery. Worst of all, the reasoning behind these murders was, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. It was little more than "I'm bored" to "I'm crazy because the plot needs me to be some random crazy person now". There was no rhyme or reason to any of the killer's actions. This isn't to show a sociopath, it's done so horribly that I could only conclude that the writers simply got lazy. Providing some explanation would have sufficed instead of just unimaginative drivel. Characters: 1/10 ALL social links, the character development that the characters express in the game, all end the same. They talk about a particular problem, they exaggerate how bad this problem is, some sob story is given in a one-sided depiction of the specified problem, a certain mary-sue brat will come in to give forcefully mundane advice, and then by the end of the social link the specific character will go on having the problem and say their complaints before were exaggerated and that there is no real issue. Nothing really changes for the characters. They don't try to deal with problems but just stop complaining about them. All of them just admit to being a bunch of emo-drama queens. This is completely unsatisfactory and the redundancy of this annoying set-up simply bored me. An example? Yukiko Amagi, she shows great strides in trying to get a job and live on her own to support herself so that she doesn't have to follow in her family's footsteps of running a historic family inn. The direction forcefully changes from growing into your own independent person to some lunacy about some camera crew from some random tabloid magazine wanting to make a mockery of her parents historical inn. The intriguing story quickly diverges from Yukiko not wanting to be forced with these expectations of inheriting her family's historical inn to some sappy soap opera consisting of random workers for the family speaking about how they adored Yukiko as a kid. This is constantly reinforced by her mother's so-called poor health, which is never really elaborated upon, and her mother crying in tears whenever the journalists come into the inn (apparently, no one saw it fit to simply ban them from the establishment for harassment). By the end of this melodramatic horror show, Yukiko defends her crying mother against these terrible people from this random tabloid company with you, the main character's, help as moral support. Overall, I found the entire experience to be a laughable melodramatic soap opera and became embarrassed to even be playing through it. Now, one shouldn't judge an entire system in a game on just one bad egg, right? The problem was, I kept finding this same chain of events in every social link so I quickly lost my patience with this framework of utter crap. The scenes are all far too similar. You begin with an interesting story, there is this sudden shift in direction that hardly makes any sense, and the character admits to being a whiny baby. It was uninspiring, far too forced to be realistic in any sort of way, and honestly had no meaningfulness behind it. The characters literally went from interesting dynamic people with realistic thoughts and feelings to card-board character archetypes that simply admitted to whining too much about life. To conclude: If you like Japanese RPGs full of high school drama or liked previous Persona games then this is definitely for you. If you like good RPGs then this game isn't for you. Final score: 4/10
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