I played through Persona 3 FES last summer. It was nice to have one big RPG to focus on for the entire season. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Persona 3 is such a fantastic game. When I taught my final lesson and submitted the last grades of the semester, I was pretty excited play the sort of game that I simply can’t make time for during the school year. And it only made sense to follow up last summer’s game-of-choice by playing Persona 4.
It’s difficult to avoid describing Persona 4 in terms of its predecessor. Persona 3 is a fantastic game and a huge leap forward from previous games in the series (read my thoughts on that here). The latest game in the series is more of a gradual refinement of the formula that Atlas created in Persona 3, and that is by no means a bad thing. So if you’re interested in Persona 4 for any reason, do yourself a favor and play Persona 3 FES first.
Persona 4 still strikes an enjoyable balance between crunchy RPG battles and building social links with the people in your life, but Atlas made a few important tweaks to the formula. Chief among these tweaks is the ability to control all of your party member in battle, the lack of which made some battles in Persona 3 needlessly challenging. Even though the adjustments are relatively minor, it would be a doing Persona 3 a disservice to play it after having experienced what is essentially a better version of the same game. Again, do yourself a favor and play Persona 3 FES first.
The other thing that really enhanced my appreciation of this game is that it’s the first PlayStation 2 game that I’ve ever played with an emulator. Before you tweet the police about how evil I am, let me explain myself. I recognize that—in the strictest sense—emulation is illegal. However, I do own both a copy of the game and a PlayStation 2 (my second one, actually), so I am depriving Sony of no money. Rather, I thought it would be fun to try to run the game in high-definition, which was an excellent decision on my part.
There’s enough detail in the character models that Persona 4 looks fantastic when you force it to render at a resolution 3 or 4 times what the PlayStation 2 was capable of. In the current age of HD remastered version of games from the early 2000’s, it’s difficult to deny the lure of up-scaling games that—graphics aside—are still really enjoyable. I feel like I experienced the hidden fully-intended version of Persona 4. So, I have no regrets.
While the rest of America was outside, enjoying the summer, the Arizona sun forced me indoors, and Persona 4 turned out to be an excellent choice of summer game.