|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Dev: Arc System Works|
|Release: August 7, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Language, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence|
And there is so much story here. It takes over a half hour just to get to Yu's first fight! The rest is dialogue, cutscene, decision-making, and sweet, sweet Persona 4 music. Yes, the entire soundtrack of Persona 4 comes back, from "Reach Out to the Truth" to the classic battle theme to the repetitive Junes jingle. Not only that, but many of these tracks have also been remixed and you can listen to either the remixed or the classical version. The remixed Velvet Room theme at character select is a particular treat.
At the time of this writing, I have only completed a portion of the story available because it is literally comparable to an RPG in length. Not only that, but I can't actually tell you details about the story because I might spoil something. Yes, I'm actually worried about spoilers in a fighting game review. I can honestly say you should purchase this for the story, especially if you are a Persona 4 fan. You don't want to miss this chapter in the lives of the Special Investigation Team.
As awesome as this game is, it does have some flaws. The insistence on using double-quarter-circles for supers is one, and that will certainly turn some newbies away. The fact that there isn't a button-oriented dash command is another, causing certain types of movement to be difficult to perform on a stick and nearly impossible on a D-pad.
Combo mechanics in the game are also rather counterintuitive. Though the normal ABC chain is there for every character, you'll rarely want to use it. In fact, most of the pro combos in the game require needlessly strict timing, and this will be very off-putting to anyone who isn't a pro fighting gamer. In addition, the game can be easily broken. Nearly every character has a way to one-touch kill an opponent with a sufficiently long combo. Granted, the burst mechanic of the game mitigates this a bit, but it's still depressing to get caught up in combos that last 30 seconds and kill you because you managed to get hit once.
Still, Persona 4 Arena is a competently put-together fighter that is sure to please both veterans of the genre and longtime fans of the Persona franchise. It has a robust story, an interesting system, a magnificent roster, and wonderful music. It's a great package that suffers from a few design choices I simply don't agree with. However, they are but small nitpicks in an otherwise enjoyable game.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: August 7, 2012