Amazing plot. Wonderful characters. Mind-blowing JRPG.
Short answer: see title. Long answer: below.
Storyline/plot - 9/10 - P4's story is definitely a major reason why you'd want to buy this game. The story is a huge driving force motivating you to save innocent victims of the evil bastard kidnapping them and bringing him to justice. Furthermore, not only is the plot intense, exciting, often humorous and (in some places) a real Tear Jerker
, but it is like that throughout the entire game - there are very few moments, if any, where the story gets repetitive or dull. The main downsides can include a stretched Willing Suspension Of Disbelief
and confusing aspects of the plot that make little sense which are not explained until very late-game. But overall, it's great.
Characterization - 8.5/10 - P4 has a truly wonderful cast. Your party members, closest friends and even the antagonists each have their own unique, distinctive personality, and the English VAs are actually really good! The social links are mostly brilliant, sometimes completely changing your perspective on a certain character; doubly so for your party members since you also get to see their "shadow" (a hidden/suppressed part of their personality). An example of how effective this is? People cry
at the normal/true ending, purely because they are saying goodbye to these characters they've known so well.
Combat - 8/10 - P4 uses a modified turn-based system where both sides can be granted extra turns if they score critical hits or exploit weaknesses. This may sound simple, but actually adds a lot of depth to strategies in battle and can easily decide who emerges victorious. Along with the SMT tradition of buffs, insta-kill spells and ailment attacks actually making a real difference, Persona 4 has a complex and often challenging combat system that rewards players who fight intelligently, and punishes those who are lazy and ignore their weaknesses.
Soundtrack - 8.5/10 - P4 has some truly brilliant music, complete with Engrish lyrics and vocals. Almost any situation you find yourself in will be accompanied by an amazing soundtrack.
Lasting appeal - 7.5/10 - Although you'll know who the culprit is on a NG+, the game is often as fun and as exciting as ever. There'll be quite a few aspects of the game you won't have seen before, in addition to other exclusive NG+ features. Definitely worth a second playthrough.
Overall - 9/10.