Persona 3 FES PlayStation 2
Published by: Koei
Developed by: Atlus
Release Date: Out Now
Earlier this year we reviewed arguably one of the best PlayStation 2 RPG's to date, Persona 3. We said at the conclusion of our review that one of the few disappointments with the game was that it had taken a long time to arrive here in the UK (it had been released in Japan in 2006 and in the US in 2007) and that the US release of the enhanced version, known as Persona 3 FES was only weeks away. Eight months later and Persona 3 FES has arrived here in the UK and at the bargain price of just £19.99.
Persona 3 FES includes the full version of Persona 3, so if you haven't purchased the game yet you only need concern yourself with Persona 3 FES, and in addition there are some enhancements to the original game and a 30 hour addition that picks up events from the end of the original storyline. We aren't going to cover the storyline of the original game in this review but you can read our review of Persona 3 (click here to go straight to the review) to find out how impressed we were with the game.
When you load the game you'll have two choices. You can either play 'The Journey' or 'The Answer'. The Journey is the original Persona 3 (plus enhancements) and The Answer is the 30 hour addendum. There are a couple of things to note here. First of all if you haven't finished the original Persona 3 you can't simply continue your progress by selecting The Journey. What you can do however is to begin a new game and take some things across from your previous save data. Your characters Academics, Courage and Charm ratings, for instance, are carried over if you choose to do this. You will however have to start the game again. If you finished Persona 3 (and have your completed save file) you can unlock an extra hard mode so you can enjoy playing through the game again for a fiercer challenge. I would not recommend starting The Answer until you have completed The Journey (or the original Persona 3 of course) because you'll have a major plot twist revealed which will then spoil your enjoyment of The Journey.
Let's take a look at the extras that The Journey provides first. The Journey gives you additional personas, a new social link, an extra difficulty level, an option to fuse weapons, the ability to change your character's clothes (clothes are mainly acquired by completing quests), new events and new quests to undertake. A few tweaks have been made too, and you'll find that you can now play arcade games in the Game Panic arcade which is located in the Paulownia Mall. The various arcade games can give you certain bonuses such as increased Persona power. There are many other minor tweaks and adjustments that fans of Persona 3 will appreciate.
It's rather difficult to go into specific details about The Answer without spoiling the storyline for The Journey. You'll play as Aegis in this 30 hour storyline and you don't get to go to Gekkoukan High School and carry out any of the socialising which was present in The Journey (or Persona 3). In fact you don't even get to leave the dorm. You won't be visiting Tartarus either but you do get to visit a new location (situated underneath the dorm) and the experience is a very similar one. What you will notice is that The Answer is quite a bit tougher than The Journey and you'll find yourself levelling-up much more in order to progress. On the whole The Answer isn't as enjoyable as The Journey. It's still a welcome addition however but it essentially feels like you're only getting half of the excellent experience that The Journey provides.
In terms of its presentation, Persona 3 FES is exactly the same as Persona 3. It remains one of the better looking RPG's on the PlayStation 2 and once again there are some terrific anime cutscenes. These cutscenes aren't subtitled however and you'll miss out on the dialogue in these cutscenes in both The Journey and The Answer. Thankfully there aren't that many cutscenes and almost all of the other dialogue in the game is subtitled (the comments made in battle are not subtitled). The dialogue has both the character's name and a large portrait placed alongside the text so you'll always know who is saying what. If the possibility of an all-out attack occurs during a battle, you'll see subtitled comments from a character offering the chance to perform an all-out attack. All quests are given in text and can be recalled at any time.
Persona 3 FES is quite a simply a must own game if you happen to have a PlayStation 2 and are a fan of console/Japanese RPG's. If you've already played Persona 3 there's more than enough here to justify the £19.99 asking price with the additional 30 hours of storyline and an enhanced version of the original game to enjoy. If you didn't pick up the original game then this represents one of the best value for money games you're likely to find this year. If you're lucky enough to own a PlayStation 3 (a format currently starved of quality RPG's), which offers backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 software you'll be pleased to know that Persona 3 FES works absolutely fine.