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The Midnight Channel Doesn't Discriminate and Neither Does This Fighter

     I'd never even heard of the name Persona until around last Christmas when my friend started going on about how much fun he had playing it.  I kinda cheated though, I must confess I never played Persona 4, I watched Persona 4 The Animation and  I was immediately sucked and hooked.  So naturally when I heard of Persona 4 Arena coming to the xbox 360 I had to get it, here was my chance to see what all the persona craze was about and experience it for myself.  I must also confess before I go any further that I've never been a large fan of fighter games, while I enjoy them I'm a chronic button masher so I feel like I'm not really able to appreciate these games to their fullest.   But this is also where Persona 4 Arena succeeds, and to hardcore fans of  fighting games I'm aware that this may be more of an annoyance than anything else.  Luckily though there has been an auto combo system implemented for the gamer like myself who never plays fighters but has been curious about them, and still can feel accomplished after playing.  The auto combos are great and can become a bit of a crutch, but thankfully for the hardcore fighting crowd there is an extensive and very deep fighting system.  The controls feel very natural and responsive.  There is a refined fighting system but at no point does this ever complicate the controls and take you out of the game.  Controlling your personas and you characters flows so smoothly that it eventually becomes second nature and you don't even have to think about it.   The sound fits perfectly, the score is amazing and the voice acting really lends a lot of the story.  Although that's something I would have liked to have seen more of, instead of half the text cut scenes if there could have been more character narration and dialogue.  The text I didn't mind really but I can see where it is going to really bug some gamers, a lot of the cut scenes are nothing but text narration used to help further the plot.  This may not simply be up to pace for some gamers, and there is an option to skip through it but if you do you will be missing out what makes this game stand out, aside from its great controls, from other fighters.   Graphically the game looks beautiful, it looks like it puts you in control of an anime series and you get to make your favorite characters to duke it out to find out who the "manliest man of all" is.    The few animated cut scenes that there are really stand out and are some of the best I've seen in any game.    What really sets this game apart from other fighters though is the insane amount of story it is and how immersed the player becomes in it.  The Persona games have typically been RPG's so I can only imagine the reactions fans gave when they heard this was to be a fighting game, but after playing through the story I honestly don't think there could have been a better way to tell this story.  The story centers around the Investigation Team being pulled back into TV world after seeing the midnight channel being run again.  Upon arrival they are forced to participate in the P-1 Grand Prix, a  tournament that forces friends to fight against each other. But why, and who's behind this?  Overall how much fun have I had with Persona 4 Arena?  Well I picked it up on its launch day and this is pretty much what I've been playing exclusively and keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who previously only dabbled occasionally in fighters.  I've had a blast playing through the different stories, which at quite a few times thanks to Teddie had me in stitches laughing.    Persona 4 Arena is a well rounded fighter with an immersive story but its one that anyone can pick up and play and have a blast with it be it destroying your foes online or simply trying to stop the shadows and rescue your friends from the TV world.  This is game is well worth the shelf price of $60 and has insane replay value.

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