Some time ago I blogged about having intrest in a little game called Persona 3 FES (the extended edition of Persona 3). I spoke on the game back in 2008, and I hadn't even touched it when I wrote the post, but mentioned that it looked like something worth looking into. Well I ended up buying the game on (according the receipt I found tucked away in the box) the sixth of july 08. Now I'm back to say that eight days short of having the game for two years, I've finally beaten it from front to back.
Overlooking "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion", P3F (as titled on the box) is the game that has resulted in THE most bang for my buck I've ever purchased. FES is divided into two games, "The Journey" which is the main story, and "The Answer" which extends the story, and gives additional closure. The game is advertised as having 100+ hours altogether. However, since I love to play RPGs exhaustively, I spent a rough total of 180-200 hours on the game. Most of that is because of my OCD for grinding, but none the less that's a value of $0.16 and hour VS. the traditional $10 an hour value (6hrs for a $60 game) I'm used to getting.
I digress, The entire point is that P3F was a fantastic game, and it shows that others agree since it's about to have it's third release for the PSP in early July (ironically the same day I bought FES two years ago). I spent an exhaustive amount of time on the game, and for good reason. It's story was well written, the game play was good (though it had it's quirks), and all the characters were properly fleshed out so you knew who they were and why they acted the way they did. Besides that it's structure was a breath of fresh air, allow me to elaborate.
in most RPGs you have minimal control over what happens in the game world other than how you choose to level your character, and fight enemies. However in Persona 3 game play is split into two different domains, traditional combat, and a simulation of high school life. At night you fight monsters, level up, and engage in all the traditional RPG elements. However during the day you go to school and hang out with friends. This part may seem like it's useless, but because your character has the special ability to combine summons (personas) to make new ones leading the life of a highschooler has it's useful purpose.
All personas in the game are classified by arcana (based on the tarot card system). The purpose of the highschool life sim is for you to make friends (or in some cases girlfriends), and forge strong bonds that correspond with a certain arcana. The stronger the bond between you and the friend that represents that arcana, the more powerful a persona created under that arcana will be when made by fusion. This results in one game with two very different appeals, which, through this system, are woven quite tightly together.
Anyway that's the basic rubdown of how the game's structure that caused it to be such a UNBELIEVABLY different experience. With a radically different spin on the traditional turn based RPG something was bound to happen, in this case it just so happened to be good.
Well I'll cut off here since I've rambled long enough. Check out the special montage seen at the beginning of P3F below.
Now here's to hoping that I get through Persona 4 faster. Oh did I mention that while in the middle of Persona 3 I bought Persona 4 on it's release day?
P.S. Right now I'm experiencing shell shock from finishing a game I've been playing for so long.