Persona 4 Arena is the latest in the Shin Megami Tensei Persona series out for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It continues the story from Persona 4 directly and features some cameos from Persona 3 in it. What makes it different from previous entries is the fact this is a fighting game. For a fighting game, it also features an impressive story mode that lasts for over 20 hours among each of the different character paths. Is it worth the purchase though? For both Persona fans and fighting fans, I say yes.
Most fighting games tend to have a small story or one that is just randomly thrown together. Perhaps, because this is also a Persona game, this fighting game also just happens to have a very strong story to it. With twelve characters with their own story paths, there is plenty of reasons to complete each of them. Most of the different paths are similar to each other, but offer up something different depending on who you select. The characters Labrys and Elizabeth offer the most unique stories in the game with Labrys being a story based upon her past before the events today. Each story is very lengthy with plenty of takes on the story to keep things fresh and exciting as well as being very funny at times. Overall the story mode itself should clock you a little over 20 hours.
While most of the story paths are over two hours in length, there is generally only six to eight matches found over the course of story. If you are looking for something quicker, try the arcade mode. The arcade mode is very similar to story mode but is very condensed to the point of following a slight story path for each character with eight total matches back to back. Arcade mode will only last you about 10 minutes while giving you plenty of back to back matches.
The controls for the game are pretty simple to understand. They following the standard ABCD format of buttons with X & A used for normal attacks and Y & B used for Persona attacks. If you are buying this for the Xbox 360, I do recommend a fighting stick pad for this game, as the Xbox 360’s d-pad is not great to use with fighters. Otherwise the controls feel fluid and flow into each other. Each character feels like they were given their proper strengths in regard to their abilities and persona attacks. This helps keep the different characters balanced between each other.
The game has a very nice 2D look to it. Although there are some anime cut-scenes, most of the conversations and dialogs are done with a visual novel sort of feel to it. During story mode, the conversations are done in front of static backgrounds. While the backgrounds do look nice, it does start to feel like a few more could have been made. This is because you will be going back and forth between some of the same backgrounds while you do story mode. The matches themselves feature dynamic 3D backgrounds that are constantly changing.
If you are a fan of fighting games or the Persona series, you should check out Persona 4 Arena. Even if you are bad at fighting games and love the Persona series, you definitely need to check out this game. The story in this game makes it well worth it for a purchase alone for those looking to continue the Persona 3 and 4 storyline. The good balance of characters and matches tops it off as a great fighting game to own.