First of all, Persona 4 does not do anything new. Even discounting the fact it is still running the Persona 3 engine, the game is structured around a very traditional JRPG combat system and plot. Sometimes, that's not such a bad thing. Because when a game can do "traditional" so well that it feels new all over again, you've got a real winner. And Persona 4 is just such a game. The combat system has had some tweaks from Persona 3 - namely, no more leaving your party members to AI unless you want to. But why would you want to? Your party members are now significantly more useful contributors to your combat. The place where Persona 4 really shines over its predecessor is the storyline, however. While the epic plots of Personas past are not present (the game centers around a murder mystery instead of the traditional "end of the world" bearing down on you at every turn), the trade-off is that the plot focuses extensively on the core cast of characters. By the end of Persona 4, I knew these people so much better than the bunch in Persona 3. This is honestly one of the most character driven games I have ever played. Even the social links you form have significantly more depth - when I'm sitting back and fretting over the fate of a single parent's relationship with her son, I know the game has done its job well. And having social links with my entire team brought me that much closer to their lives. And Persona 4 rarely chooses easy answers, a complexity usually lacking from stories centered around teens. Most unusual about this game, especially for Mega Ten, is that the themes are overall hopeful and positive. In some games, this would feel cheap. Yet in this series, one that often focuses on futility and surviving in spite of it, Persona 4's themes of actually trying to overcome that ring a lot truer. After all, it's Mega Ten. You've got no guarantees that you, your party, or anyone else will survive. While this game works well in conjunction with the rest of the series, it's also a good game on its own. I've played this with a friend that despised long storylines and JRP Gs as a whole and he could not stop watching me play. It's *that* compelling. Wrap it all together with another excellent localization from Atlus and Persona 4 is easily one of the best and most rewarding games in the PS 2's library.
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