A date sim,interactive drama,dark story with supernatural themes,trivia quiz's and RPG in one. - User Reviews - www.GameInformer.com
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A date sim,interactive drama,dark story with supernatural themes,trivia quiz's and RPG in one.

Persona 3(P3) is one of the most addictive games I've ever played because it's story and characters grew on me.P3's story is creepy and it uses date/friendship sim elements to make it's characters feel more like real people.P3'S battle system uses turn-based strategy in a way that is fun(I will explain why later)and it rewards you for making the right tactical decisions.

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Story
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The main story for P3 is about how a period of time exists which is known as the 'dark hour'.The dark hour occurs everyday after midnight and during the dark hour,most people will be transformed into a coffin and they will be unaware the dark hour is happening.However,a small number of people are not transformed into a coffin during dark hour and they'll be completely conscious and will be prey for creatures known as 'shadows' which come out during dark hour and attack/feed on the minds of people who are not transformed into a coffin and the people who are unfortunate enough to become victims of the shadows are left in a catatonic- like state.Some of the people who don't get transformed into a coffin during dark hour form a group known as Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad", or SEES.The SEES are trying to find out what causes the dark hour and are trying to stop it once and for all.The people who are in the SEES have an ability to summon supernatural beings referred to as 'personas' .The personas can be used to kill the shadows or to heal injured people or for other various things too.

The story paces itself well and makes you want to know what happens next without pacing itself too slowly or too quickly.The story has some big and well thought out plot twists and revelations to do with the characters,dark hour and the world itself which are on an epic scale.The story can be very emotional(enough to make a tear come to my eye)because certain characters will die and the main story and side-stories have deep/emotional moments and the side-stories do a good job of showing human relationships in a very deep way to make the characters feel like real people with deep/complex pasts,problems and their own distinctive personalities.Some of the P3's characters can be very funny/goofy(enough to make me laugh out loud)and the story also uses sexual humor in a funny way.The story can be very serious,dark and depressing at times and even when the story becomes incredibly depressing,it suits the story very much.

The game has many characters(playable and NPCs)who you can make your character spend time with and these characters who you meet/can spend time with have very distinctive or entertaining personalities and deep pasts/personal problems to reveal.The way relationships with the various characters turn out and whether they reveal their past/problems to you depends on how often you spend time with them and what you say to them or how you act around them(this is referred to as the social links)but I will explain about that later in this review).

I will shed a bit of light on some of the characters to show why I like them so much.

The main character is the character who you name and play as.He's a blue haired teenaged male and an orphan and he's transferred to a new school.

Yukari is an attractive,popular,extroverted,bad tempered teenage girl and she will yell at people a lot but it's funny to watch when she does so.

Junpei is a lazy guy who thinks he's a ladies man and he tries to act confident but he admitted he cried and hid the first time he experienced the shadows.Junpei will even call out to your character during class and ask for the correct answer to a question because he isn't the smartest person.

Mitsuru is the daughter of a group of scientists and she seems to know a lot about the shadows and dark hour and she's a very serious person most of the time.

Akihiko is a student and boxer who seems confident and intelligent most of the time but he's very timid around girls.

Fuuka is a shy girl who gets picked on by other girls at school.

There's also a character that's a dog who will join your group because it has a persona and there's a character that's an android who also joins your group and she also has a persona and you'll see how the personality of the android develops over time as it becomes more human.

There's a male student who is attracted to and has affairs with older women (even with some of his fellow teachers).Kazushi is a devoted athlete but he stops being your friend if you blow off plans with him to hang out with your girlfriend and you'll need to make a big effort to make him your friend again sometimes(he's a bit of a drama queen).Hidetoshi is a big nark and is the vice president of the student council and he likes to accuse people of doing things that are against the school rules to the point it annoys people.Yuko is another cute and nice girl you can spend time with and there's even an older woman who your character will have conversations with when he plays an MMORPG.There's a Buddhist monk who likes to discuss Buddhist values and other deep/personal things with you and there's even more characters to discover too.

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Gameplay
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Much of the gameplay involves interacting with other characters(many of the interactions with other characters are optional).When you interact with these characters you can create friendships or even become the boyfriend of certain female characters and this is referred to as social links.Making strong social links will make your personas stronger which will help you during battle.

The game uses a time/day system where doing activities will make time go past and you have a limited number of days to beat the game.On some days your character will have school(which uses up most of that day) and your character will have days off school to do other things but there's only so much you can do in one day so you have to choose how to spend your time wisely.Many of the days involve going to school,selecting answers from multiple choice quiz's and if you get the correct answer you'll make your character more charming/popular (which makes certain girls more likely to date you and if you date a girl and build a strong bond with her it will make certain personas stronger).You will do exams at school and you can try to select the correct answer to increase your charm.

You can study at the library to increase your intelligence so you have a better chance of doing good in your exams to increase your charm and having a higher level of intelligence will make you more appealing to certain girls.

To make friendships happen or to become the boyfriend of certain female characters,you'll need to spend lots of time with them and say the correct things/do the right things around them.It's possible to make a friend or your girlfriend angry at you and they'll avoid you for a while and you'll need to keep trying to talk to them to repair the relationship(social link)with them.Sometimes the correct thing to say/do around a friend/your girlfriend isn't obvious and doing something that might seem like the correct thing could make your friend/girlfriend mad enough to stop talking to you.

The battle system is turn-based but if you select an attack/skill that an enemy is weak against,you will knock them down and will get another turn to attack and if every enemy is knocked down,your party can choose to do a full on assault and inflict a lot of damage/finish off the enemy/enemies.But if the enemies use an attack on a character that their persona is weak against,your character will get knocked down and the enemies will get another turn to attack your characters.As you would expect,a persona that uses fire can inflict a lot of damage to an enemy that uses ice and vise versa.A persona that uses wind can inflict a lot of damage to an enemy that uses physical strength.A character who uses a persona that uses fire is resistant to fire based attacks from enemies but they cannot damage the enemy with fire based attacks either(they'll have to use physical attacks).

Each character(except for your character)can use one persona.Your character can use many different types of personas but can only use one at a time and can switch the persona he's using mid-battle.You can only have 4 people in your party so you'll need to be careful in which people you choose to join your party when you're traveling through certain parts of the Tartarus(I will explain what the Tartarus is later).Often you'll face groups of enemies and they'll use different elemental attacks or physical against against your characters so each character's role in battle can be vital.

If the main character is KOed,it's game over,simple as that unless you are in possession of special items which you cannot buy/find and are given at the start of the game which revive the main character after he's been KOed but you have a limited number of them.

You can also fuse multiple personas together to combine the skills/abilities of those personas into one persona.However,if if the persona you create from fusion inherits fire abilities,it will make them vulnerable to ice attacks.If the persona you create inherits lightning abilities,it will make them vulnerable to ice etc.But fusing personas together can be helpful because you can make a strong persona(the personas level up just like the characters)gain helpful healing skills.

In the original version of Persona 3,you can only directly control the main character and the AI will control the other 3 party members.In Persona 3 Portable,you can directly control each party member which is a nice feature because even though the party member AI for the original Persona 3 was quite good,sometimes it would heal too late or heal the wrong character or not use an elemental attack that a certain enemy you desperately want to beat is weak against and this can make some battles drag on when they could be won quickly or could be the difference between winning and losing battles.

Earlier I mentioned about charm and intelligence levels your character can develop,I'd also like to mention you can do karaoke to increase courage(which has certain benefits)or you can watch a romance movie to increase charm or you can watch a horror movie to increase courage.

The Tartarus is a massive dungeon your characters must explore and make it to the top of by a certain date.But don't worry,you have many months to make it to the top of the Tartarus.The Tartarus has over 250 floors and you don't need to travel through all of them at once because it has warp points.The Tartarus is filled with shadows that will chase after you and will try to attack you but the game doesn't use random battles and you can try to avoid/run past enemies if you wish.The shadows will keep respawning so you can level grind too.

Every full moon certain bosses(powerful shadows)will appear and you'll need to defeat them and the Tartarus has many bosses that you'll need to defeat to progress through the Tartarus.

Another thing you'll need to manage is fatigue levels and illness of your characters.If you spend too much time level grinding/moving through the Tartarus,your characters will become tired/sick and their battle abilities will be severely weakened.Making your character do a lot of studying or activities in a day can cause him to become tired quicker.When you cause another character to become tired they won't be able to join your party for a day or two when you enter the Tartarus.When you're in class you can make your character sleep during the lesson to give him more rest but it will mean your character's intelligence level cannot increase.Studying too make can make your character tired.So these are other ways you have to manage your characters too.

The days in P3 can go quicker than you think because of school,exams and other mandatory things so you'll need to balance out your social link stuff(making friendships or dating)as well as level grinding without getting too tired and studying,building up charm or intelligence etc.

You can explore the city and eat at different food places or shop at different places for gifts.When you go on dates or hang out with a friend you can do it at food places or at a coffee shop or you can go on a date to the mall and go clothes shopping with your girlfriend etc.When you're on a date and sitting in a food place/cafe or even at the mall,your girlfriend will reveal a lot of deep/personal stuff to you and if you max out the social link with your girlfriend she will invite you to come to her bedroom.

You can also join a track team,music group,swimming team,student council(to help discuss/vote on school rules and how to enforce them)and a variety of other activity groups and doing those things will make your character make new friends and increase certain social links which allow you to create stronger personas.And it's enjoyable watching your character do certain activities such as racing against other students when he's in the track team or watching Hidetoshi be a real nark and do-gooder inside and outside of the school council meetings.

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Graphics
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The graphics for the PSP version look toned down  a bit compared to the PS2 version but for a handheld game and considering it's a 2007 game they still look quite good.They still look reasonably smooth/clean with enough detail to make you feel like you're in a Japanese city.The highschool has a lot of detail with many rooms and places for all the different activity groups(it even has an atheletics field,swimming pool etc).The dorm has many rooms like a real building(you can even explore different rooms).

During dark hour,you'll see blood everywhere on the floors and walls.The shadows might look like simple blobs when they're crawling after you but when they're up close they can look quite big and powerful.Some of the shadow bosses have very demonic features which suits the game.The game uses anime style scenes to give certain story elements a more life-like feel.

The female characters are often busty and wear tight uniforms and will even wear bikinis at times.

The game does a good job of adding a variety of atmosphere because there will be a time your group will be at the beach on the sand next to the beautiful water and seeing girls in bikinis.There's a nice traditional hot spring and hotel to experience in the game.

The graphics can be artistic with beautiful views of orange/pink sunsets from on top of the highschool building with beautiful clouds and windmills.

However,the anime scenes have been replaced with still images which is kinda of disappointing,since the anime scenes made the story more epic.

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Sound
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The voice acting suits the personalities of the characters well and has a good amount of expression.I like how Yukari reacts to sexual situations because her voice will sound angry but kinda funny too and it's good the game doesn't take itself too seriously.

Junpei's voice makes him sound so oafish and over-confidient but it's funny at suits him.Like I've said the voice acting suits the personalities of the other characters.

The music when you're walking to school/in school has a nice light feel to it.Same for when you're exploring the city.The battles use some nice J-Pop music.When the story becomes very depressing the music really suits the mood and helps you want to save the characters/world.

The music for the dark hour moments has a dark/creepy feel and suits the dark hour.

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Overall
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P3 is one of the most addictive games I've played and is enjoyable in so many ways.I really wanted to give this game a score of 10 because it's so addictive and grew on me so much but I didn't because even though Persona 3 Portable improves the battle system of the original version,it has more simplified visuals.

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