|Release: September 20, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Drug Reference, Language, Mild Blood, Sexual Themes, Simulated Gambling, Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
If you are a fan of the Persona series, you will love Persona 2. Everything you've learned about the series from the original, the third, and the fourth entries in the series holds true here, and you won't be surprised by what you find in this game. There are plenty of demons to talk to, interesting branching storylines, and of course, a metric ton of interpersonal drama. Persona 2 doesn't have anything to do directly with the other games in the series, so even if you've only played the later two games, Persona 2 works well as a sequel of sorts if you want to think of it that way. If you already know and love Persona, This game is definitely a must-buy for you.
But if you've never played a Persona game before, Persona 2 is a great place to jump in. The game is very much tied to the world of the over-arching Shin Megami Tensei series (or MegaTen for short) and has very prominent occult themes. It tells a dark story about the nature of sin and perception, and if you think today's games are lacking in substance, you'll get plenty of that here.
Of course, the only drawback to telling a big story is that there is a lot of dialogue. And because Persona 2 was made more than a decade ago, that means you are going to have to sit through hours of these dialogue scenes. In fact the first two hours of gameplay are spent just setting up the story. If you don't like this kind of story-focused gameplay, or prefer more cinematic story sequences, you probably won't enjoy Persona 2. But, if you can stick it out, you'll be rewarded with a sweeping, branching story that will keep you engrossed during the game's 40-plus hour story.
The story isn't the only thing with considerable depth. The battle system requires you to use tactics and negotiation skills in very interesting ways. When you first encounter a demon enemy, you can talk to it, which can turn the tides of the battle. You can either make it so mad it gains power from rage, or make it friendlier toward you so it will form a pact with you and fight for you.
If the conversation doesn't end on a friendly note, it's time to fight. You can fight with your weapons or with Personas, who use magical and elemental attacks. The battle system is strictly turn-based, so you can take as much time as you want to formulate a plan of attack. Though some might argue that the turn-based battle system is antiquated, the return to something that requires you to actually put some thought into your actions instead of just hammering on the attack button is something I think modern gaming is missing. This type of battle system probably isn't for everyone, but if you miss true tactics-based gameplay, you'll be delighted by the depth and customization in Persona 2's battle system.
In addition to fighting demons, you'll also have to wage war in the game using the power of misinformation. In the world of Persona 2, rumors are becoming fact, and perception is starting to replace reality. Spread the right rumors, and you can get people to behave in a way that is more conducive to your mission. Manipulating people and spreading rumors is one of the big strategic elements you'll have to deal with in order to shape the world of Persona 2 and stop the evil forces that surround your community. Of course, this may or may not be too ethical, but forcing players to deal with the consequences of your actions is yet another facet of the game that makes it a stand-out title.