Condemn O.R. Condone – Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PlayStation 3)

When it comes to fighting games, a story mode is something of an afterthought. You’ll pick your character and take him through a string of matches and maybe be greeted with a little story clip at the beginning and the end. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the complete antithesis of that formula, offering a substantial story mode where fighting more or less takes a back seat. For fans of the Persona series this is a very good thing, though more straight-forward fighting fans may be a little turned off by it.

Ultimax picks up right where Arena left off, as our characters are in Inaba and find themselves in the middle of a complete black-out followed by a mysterious red fog. It turns out that the trials that the characters endured in the first game have now materialized in the real world and doppelgangers are coming to kill everyone in their way. If you’ve played previous games in the series then you’ll already have an understanding of many of the characters, though the game does a great job of introducing and fleshing each character you come into contact with.

As mentioned previously, this fighting game has probably the most substantial story mode out of any fighting game I have ever played. You start off with a story arc that follows the characters from Persona 4 (unlocking the Persona 3 story arc after completion) and make your way down a chapter tree while shifting between characters and engaging in sporadic battles. These chapters contain A LOT of dialogue, making it feel more like a visual novel at times as fighting shows up infrequently. In fact, the game even gives you the option to let the CPU battle so you can engage fully in the story mode. This is truly impressive, as the game’s writing – while not quite up to par with Persona 4 – is far better than anything you would get in a typical fighter like Street Fighter or Tekken.

While it is great that the game offers such an interesting story to follow, seeing as this is a fighting game we should probably talk about the actual fighting. In a word: awesome. The mechanics on display here refine everything that was present in Arena into something just about anyone can get into. Casual fans can pull off sweet combos and moves thanks to simplified controls, while hardcore players can really dig deep and unleash mayhem if they’re willing to practice.

Actual fights have the typical brawler set-up, with two characters going head-to-head in a race to deplete the other character’s health bar. However, there are other mechanics on display that add a lot of depth to the combat. You have a meter that builds up as you successfully land attacks, and when you get it to certain levels you will be able to pull off more devastating attacks. You also have a burst meter to fill up, which you can use to send your opponent flying if you need an escape from a tight spot.

As was the case with Arena, Ultimax allows you to summon your Persona with the tap of a button, which you can then imbue into other combos to pull off some awesome moves. Just as you have a light and heavy physical attack, you also have light and heavy persona attacks that are both useful depending on the situation. This is all to say that there is a ton of variety and depth to the game’s combat, but whether you’re a novice or an expert you can have an equal amount of fun and success with the game. Thankfully, the game does offer a solid set of practice modes for you to try out and master all of the game’s nuances if you plan on getting really good at it. I found the combat mechanics to be a bit overwhelming at first, but after spending some time in practice mode I got the hang of it pretty quickly.

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The roster on display here is just as great, as you have a huge variety of characters and fighting styles to play around with. You’ll be primarily playing with characters from Persona 3 and 4, who each have their own strengths and weaknesses and require different tactics if you want to master each of them. Most of the characters also come with Shadow variants, who sacrifice damage and defense for the ability to have constant access to special abilities, carry over SP from previous battles and utilize Shadow Frenzy that grants them unlimited SP for a short amount of time. It’s a risk to use these variants considering what you give up, but the potential is there to do fatal damage ridiculously quickly.

You have your standard arcade modes where you can just go in and battle whoever you want, but Ultimax also includes a Golden Arena mode for those looking for a more RPG-like experience. You’re essentially thrown into a feux-dungeon with 50 battles ahead of you, and as you progress you will level up and gain points to increase your stats and learn new moves. The catch is that your progress is only saved after every 5 battles, so if you’re near the end and are defeated by the final enemy you have to play the previous string of fights all over again. Your health does not replenish between these strings of fights, so it really requires you to play smart and take as little damage as you can.

Once you’re feeling confident enough you can also take your skills online and battle other players from all over the world. The stability is about the same as the previous game, as there is minimal lag and jumping into fights is quick and easy. There aren’t massive amounts of depth in this mode, as you essentially have your ranked and unranked matches, but those looking for a quick match against far more difficult opponents will definitely be able to sink a lot of time in the mode regardless.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is one of the best fighting games that you can get these days. It offers an excellent combat system that can be utilized well by both casuals and experts alike, while also offering a surprisingly lengthy story mode to actually get attached to the characters you are battling. While fans of the Persona series will undoubtedly get a lot more out of this game than the uninitiated will, developers Arc System Works and Atlus still did enough so that just about anyone can get into the game and have tons of fun.

The American Release Of ‘Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker’ Has Finally Been Confirmed

There had been absolutely no talks of the game for ages, but now we know for sure that the American version of Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is slated for an early 2015 release.

The Shin Megami Tensei series has so many different offshoots that I can barely even keep count anymore, but that wont stop me from getting excited whenever I hear about a new game in the series. While Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker isn’t TECHNICALLY a BRAND NEW game, it is a major upgrade over the original 2012 Nintendo DS version. However, news of its eventual release fell to the wayside recently as pretty much all talk of existence fell of the face of the Earth.

That is all about to change, though, as Atlus has now confirmed that the USA version of the game will be releasing in the early months of the 2015 right alongside the Japanese version. What’s even better is that this game is going to be a full-fledged remake of the original DS game. Here’s what Atlus has to say about what new things Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker will be bringing to the table:

“Exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS, Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker adds full English story voices, completely relocalized dialogue, and a new episode that continues after the final day of the original DS2. The new content nearly doubles the length of the original DS2 and can be accessed immediately from the title screen.”

So, even if you played the original game on the DS to death, there is loads more content in this new version for you to sink your teeth into. I personally never got around to playing the original version, so I look forward to experiencing it in what surely is going to be the best way possible. There is also an announcement trailer for the game, so you should probably go and check that out below. 

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is developed and published by Atlus for the Nintendo 3DS. It is set to launch in the first quarter of 2015 in both the USA and Japan.

‘Persona 5’ Coming To PlayStation 4, Check Out The New Trailer

The next Persona will be making its way to both PS3 and PS4.

Although it was previously announced that Persona 5 would be coming to PlayStation 3 in 2015, it was revealed at Sony’s pre-TGS press conference that the latest installment in the series will also be making its way to PlayStation 4. The game was originally scheduled to be released in Japan in the Winter of this year, but now the developer has decided to release the game everywhere at the same time next year.

Check out the new trailer for Persona 5 below. 

Condemn O.R. Condone:

Considering the series has a tendency to stick with a particular generation of a system well after its next generation iteration is on shelves, I’m pleasantly surprised that the new entry in the series will also be coming to PlayStation 4. The Persona series’ sharp and vibrant visuals will look even better on Sony’s next-gen hardware, though no matter where you play it it’s certain to be an experience that can’t be missed.

Atlus Teasing An Important Persona Announcement

Persona developer Atlus is teasing what they call a “super important” announcement that has to do with the upcoming Persona game. According to Gematsu, at 7:30 AM on May 2nd Atlus will hold a livestream in which they will be making the announcement.

This livestream will also include a preview of Persona 3 the Movie #2: Midsummer Knight’s Dream, along with a panel of unconfirmed guests that will all be discussing the franchise.

Currently, Persona 5 will becoming to the PlayStation 3 at some point this year in Japan and in 2015 for the US. The series is critically-acclaimed and has a very loyal following, so it goes without saying that this announcement will be viewed by many.