When not powering through the dungeons, you'll still be getting stronger. Personas still inherit and gain powers based on how strong your real-world relationships are. Going to school and building strong friendships is still a huge part of the game, so your links with friends have also been enriched. This lets you tap into even more power if you make the right social choices during the game. You can pretty much push everything past what you could in the first game.
In many ways the only thing preventing FES from being a true sequel is the title. There's a ton of new content, but the story is an immediate continuation of Persona 3's storyline, so we're glad FES still shares a name with the first game. The back and forth balancing between high school friends and investigating mysterious dark forces with slick anime-style teens is addictive. The game still keeps you baited along with the promise of a stronger bond with your friend or the chance to get one level deeper into the Abyss. We'd say that this game is even worth looking at for people who are turned off by the idea of a social simulator (as some of us are). The game makes you want to use each day efficiently. There's not really a wrong way to do things, but maximizing your time requires careful strategy, and strategy is fun even if you hate the idea of having to play a game set in high school.
If you aren't turned off by the virtual high school experience (and it's a very good virtual school), the only thing we can't really recommend is the soundtrack. It's the kind of hip hop that had to be hand-picked by someone in a corner office, trying to appeal to "the kids." You'll turn the sound down the sound before showing your buddy how the game works.
It's too bad that there are a couple of aspects of the FES that could keep some gamers from giving it a chance. It's easy to get an earful of J-pop, buy flowers for a videogame girl to literally get the relationship to level 4 and decide that this game isn't for you. Still, if you're after a challenging and engaging game that'll reward you with a huge well of gameplay with polished style, and - we'll just say it - you're not afraid to nerd out, Persona 3 FES is an all around quality title that it'd be a shame to miss.
Apr 21, 2008