Persona 3 FES for the PS2 later PS3 is a upgraded version of the original Persona 3 game for the PS2 released in 2006. The game combines your average high school life and also your average RPG styled elements all in one in a very fulfilling experience. So what does Persona 3 bring to the table and is it a game worth looking at? Though more so if you have played the original Persona 3 FES is playing this upgraded version worth your time?
In Persona 3 FES you fill the shoes of a nameless protagonist in the scenario called “The Journey” whom is set to live at the dorms of the city of Iwatodai to attend Gekkoukan High. What our protagonist does not know is the city is a victim to an incident 10 years ago that unleashed the beings called “Shadows”, it is not until he first encounters one that he unlocks the power called “Persona”. The power of the Persona’s is the main means of destroying the creatures called shadows, and due to having the potential our protagonist is then joined with the group called “S.E.E.S” with their leader Mitsuru Kirijo. From there on out he, along with other group members such as Yukari Takeba, Junpei Iori, and Akihito Sanada plus more are tasked with venturing the tall tower of Tartarus, to not only discover its purpose but to destroy it, and eliminate the Dark Hour.
The added story then follows after “The Journey” and moves on to “The Answer” which is one of the bonuses in Persona 3 FES in which takes place very shortly after the first stories events. The group S.E.E.S is going to be disbanded, and most people go their separate ways. Though a girl named “Metis” stirs up trouble before loose ends get tied in a mission to protect her sister Aigis, as she says. Not only that but a area called “The Abyss of Time” exists beneath the dorm which is the main cause of a apparent time freeze. Now the member of S.E.E.S must band back together to solve this final incident with the peculiar new robot girl Metis as their guide, and also find out the answer to the tragedy of their leader. Its now Aigi’s turn to step in the shoes as the leader and bring everything to a close.
In terms of gameplay for the battle aspects you take your average four persona party into a dungeon and battle monsters. You can however command your party certain things such as focusing on a single enemy, supporting or healing, or even fully assaulting, disregarding support. This adds some control to your party members and allows you to have some power over them. One other thing to be noted is the use of “Analysis” where you scan enemies to reveal their weaknesses and strengths against your attacks in battle. These remain the same in both “The Journey” and “The Answer”.
The next thing that should be discusses is the encounters. The game has a 3D environment and you waltz around Tartarus where you can find treasure boxes and a quick getaway out from the dungeon. Enemies patrol certain areas and sometimes might be guarded rare treasure boxes. Depending if you sneak up and hit an enemy before it notices you or hits you first will depend if you get a player advantage in the battle. This allows you and your party members to attack the enemies disregarding their turn order for one turn cycle. Though if you get hit first the enemies get the edge and can attack you. If you also manage to hit all enemies with their weakness and knock them down you can preform a all out attack in which all your party members attack at once against the enemy. Though you can choose to relent and not do so.
Next is the after battle rewards as sometimes after a battle you don’t have to settle with just XP and items. You also have a shuffle event where tarot cards appear before your screen. These can have Persona’s you can get, bonus XP cards, healing cards, and money cards. There are also cards though that are possessed with Death and if chosen can summon him. Blanks are also another type of card which gives you nothing. To chose a card you simple press any button and watch them as they shuffle away in different patterns. Once they are done you select the card you want, sometimes you get a “second chance” event where if you choose a particular card you can get another. You also have a extra chance even that will pop up every now and then which will let you try the shuffle again if you chose a blank or death card.
The unique aspects of the battles for Persona however are targeted at the Persona’s themselves. Your party members are stuck with what they have but you are a special exception and can use vast amounts of Personas and switch between them in battle. Each Persona has their own abilities and of course strengths and weaknesses. Mind you if your Persona is weak against Agi then you will be knocked down by the attack due to it being your weakness. So when choosing a Persona be mindful of its strengths or weaknesses. Keep in mind that Personas also have “heart items” which are rare items attached to a Persona. You may also level up your Persona but over time it won’t bring the same impact to battle even if you level up, making it so you need to fuse certain Personas and obtain stronger and stronger ones which can be done in the “Velvet Room”. Keep in mind that Personas also have “heart items” which are rare items attached to a Persona. When you level up a Persona a certain amount you get the heart item for that Persona. Back regarding the Velevet Room it is a place where you can also accept Elizabeth’s side quests which gives you new items, quite useful as a matter of fact upon completion. She also bears holding to the Compendium where you register your Persona and can re draw them out at anytime if they are needed, of course at a fee mind you. Unfortunately this was taken out of “The Answer” making you have to search extensively around and re visit dungeons for past Persona you may need for a certain fusion.
Next is the social link system in the game. This allows you to build closer bonds with your school friends, and fellow S.E.E.S group members, though only the girls from S.E.E.S can be bonded closer with. This gives you more perspective on the characters life, and a chance to better know them. You can rank a social link to level 10 which completes the link for the particular character, each character also have a designated arcana such as the death, chariot, and hanged man. Leveling links important because it also impacts your Personas. If you want to make a Persona of the death arcana and have a lvl 7 link it will receive lots of bonus XP leveling it up, but making a Persona of the Emperor with no social link level will give it nothing. Plus maxing out a link will give you the strongest Persona of that link, such as Asura being the maximum of the Sun arcana social link and Surt the maximum of the magician. Though overtime if you abandon a social link or if you decline to hangout with a friend in place of another that can cause a reversal or decrease in the level. If you are also aiming for a peculiar girl and have her at the point where she develops feelings for you things will go bad if she sees you are also paying attention to other girls as well. This can also cause a reversal so it is wise to max out one girl characters link, then do the next. Though there are no links in “The Answer” so now all Personas must be leveled up manually.
Finally other things you can do is visit places like the arcade and increase your character stats like academics or charm. Or do some karaoke to increase your courage. This pays off as some social links can become locked if you don’t have a high enough character trait, this can also impede Elizabeth’s quests. Outside of that there are your average shops that get updated after every full moon incident and stuff like interacting with random NPC’s too or finding a new person that is possible to develop a link with. Though for “The Answer” for the whole story you are mainly confined in the dorms and the Abyss of Time and its dungeons so not much other environment gets introduced.
The music that plays in the game when visiting certain areas around the city is nice as well. Mainly jazz styled or rap based in a sense. There are of course some rock tones and instrumentals as well. There are tracks that give off the dark feeling something is amiss and other tracks which feel vibrant. The soundtracks for the school and Tartarus change those which add a bit of a refreshing tone, when killing shadows or roaming around the school halls. Below you can see some examples of the music you can expect in the game, starting off with “Mass Destruction” which is a theme you will hear a lot of, “Battle for Everyone’s Souls” a more rock feeling song, and “Memories of You” the games ending song.
Graphically wise the game isn’t bad, the Personas look pretty nice and each and every one of them have a nice design to them. Enemies also have a nice outlook to them as well as the character portraits that appear when a character is speaking. The visuals though for Tartarus aren’t necessarily bad but through most of the floors in a single block/section of the tower are repetitive. Plus it is the only real place you consecutively visit, though due to its importance it is obviously understandable why. Stuff like the design of the city is also nice too, from the backstreets of Port Island to the livelihood of Gekkoukan, there is certainly a broad scale of stuff to see in the game. There are also animated cutscenes that appear from time to time, and though they may not be the best looking of things they are not bad by any means.
Persona 3 FES can be a very fulfilling experience for a first timer into the Persona series, or a persona whom has played the original but wants to experience the bonuses. The Journey scenario will definitley give you lots of gameplay fulfillment that will leave you putting many hours into it. The added scenario “The Answer” is quite fulfilling itself. Though it requires more backtracking to get certain things, you shouldn’t miss the compendium if you aren’t looking to create a Lucifer to fight alongside you. Overall both stories make for a pretty good experience, to the average RPG gamer and fans of the Persona series. It also will give you a good challenge and a game that will require lots of hours of time into it before completing the dark yet wonderful story.