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Tales of Xillia 2 Review: Take me back to Rieze Maxia

The new antagonists, Ludger and Elle

The new antagonists, Ludger and Elle

Welcome back everyone to my esteemed blog.  The crickets have been chirping quite a bit on the blogging front, but there are a couple of reasons for this.  First, my company recently had their annual meeting, which really took it out of me.  So, after the conclusion of that successful meeting, I took a few days off and just relaxed.  I also had to attend a wedding or two, which involved quite a bit of traveling.  Now fans can rejoice, for I have returned.  Let us begin.

Bandai Namco is best known for the Tales series.  Now they have brought us the direct sequel to Tales of Xillia.  Tales of Xillia 2 takes place one year after the events of the first game.  With the huge success of the first installment, does this sequel measure up to it’s predecessor?  Let’s review.

Graphics:  There isn’t much to be said about the graphics of Tales of Xillia 2, reason being, it looks exactly the same in and out.  The characters both new and returning still retain the same design and art direction, minus a few wardrobe and hair changes (it has been a year since the first game ).  Score:  8/10

A little of the new mixed with the old.

A little of the new mixed with the old.

Sound:  Tales of Xillia 2 brings back some familiar tunes along with some new tracks to spice up the roster.  Motoi Sakuraba brings his delicate touch back to what is already a great franchise.  The voice acting is done fairly well, with the original cast returning to compliment the new characters.  On a sad note to some, Teepo is back.  Ayumi Hamasaki brings her vocal talents back with the intro theme “Song 4 U.”  Fans of the first Xillia title soundtrack won’t be disappointed with this second dose of gaming music excellence.  Score:  8.5/10

Gameplay:  As with most Tales games, this is where it all comes together.  Tales of Xillia’s core gameplay is in the fighting system.  When you’re fighting monsters, it feels more like a fighting game and less of a “select your attack and wait” kind of game, which is pretty cliche in most JRPGs.

Outta my way!

Outta my way!

The story, which is excellent, picks up one year after the events of the first game.  There is a twist, you don’t get to play as two separate protagonists, instead you only have one hero, Ludger Kresnik.  I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed with Ludger as a protagonist.  Although his story involving his brother Julius is well plotted, his portrayal as the more often than not silent protagonist is very off-putting, and while you make selections on Ludger’s responses and choices-it feels bland all together.  Elle is the other protagonist, a non-playable character who is also a huge element of the story, although not being able to use her caused me to disassociate myself from her almost entirely.  I much preferred Jude and Milla.

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The story progresses smoothly, except for times when you are forced to pay off your ridiculously exorbitant debt.  This results in you having to sidetrack your mission to accomplish fetch and monster slaying quests.  Except for the “elite” monsters, I found the remaining quests to be very tedious.

Battle of the brothers!

Battle of the brothers!

The orb system has had an overhaul as well.  I was a huge fan of the “Illium Orb” system in the first Xillia game.  The new orb system called “Allium Orb” is something that I am not too fond of.  You equip each character with an orb that slowly levels up and earns you new and upgraded skills and artes.  Think of it as a Final Fantasy 6 esper system, but much more detailed.  The only downside to this system is that with everything going on in this game, you are forced to do some severe micromanaging.  To some this is ok, but for others, it can be somewhat of a burden.

Meet the new Allium Orb system.

Meet the new Allium Orb system.  I’m a fan of the japanese version, sorry folks.

One addition that I thought was an excellent touch is the character story lines.  This allows Ludger and Elle to go on separate quests with each of the original characters from the first game, thus learning more about that individual character and increasing the bond you have between them, and you can earn a costume accessory here and there.  Score: 9.0/10

Tales of Xillia 2 is an incredible story that brings this tale to a wonderful close.  Any Tales fan should definitely add this to their library.  One thing, if you never played the first Tales of Xillia, I would recommend playing that one first.  It helps bring events of the sequel to better light.  Thanks again for following my blog.  I am reviewing a niche title called Fairy Fencer F.  Stay tuned for my review coming soon.  Thanks everyone!

Final Score: 8.5/10

Final Fantasy X/ X-2 HD Remaster Review

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Welcome back fellow readers to my esteemed blog.  I must apologize for my long absence, but circumstances have severely limited my blogging time.  But now we can press on with the gaming goodness.  It was 13 years ago when Square-Enix (back then Squaresoft) released Final Fantasy 10 for the Playstation 2 game console.  This title would be hailed as one of the greatest installments in the franchise’s history.  Now in 2014, Square-Enix has bestowed Final Fantasy X/ X-2 HD Remaster for the Playstation 3 console.  The question on everyone’s mind is, can a title that is over a decade old still strut it’s stuff in HD?  Let’s find out.

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Graphics:  Final Fantasy X/ X-2 HD Remaster is absolutely gorgeous on Playstation 3.  This is the makeover that fans have been waiting for.  The polygons and pixels have been thoroughly smoothed out, and the colors in both the character and background art have received a nice polish that really pops on the screen.  The CG cutscenes are just as beautiful as the day they premiered in 2001.  The character’s facial models also received a bright overhaul, but seem rather awkward looking especially in cutscenes.  The menu screens received several touches that really stand out, and the sphere grid remains true to it’s prior 2001 release.  There are titles that often suffer from graphical clashing (i.e. Tales of Symphonia HD Chronicles), but thankfully Final Fantasy X/ X-2 HD Remaster has received the perfect HD upgrade that truly does the game justice.  Score: 9.5/10

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Sound:  Final Fantasy X received a completely remixed musical score courtesy of Masashi Hamazu.  Some of the tracks are very vibrant and catchy.  I did however prefer some of the original musical tracks by Nobuo Uematsu as opposed to their remixes.  Not having an option to select between the original and remixed musical score during gameplay is very disappointing.  It will be hit or miss with fans of the original.  Final Fantasy X-2 did not receive a musical makeover, and thus remains the same, which isn’t a bad thing at all.  Score: 9/10

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Gameplay:  The story of Tidus and Yuna trying to save Spira from the evil of Sin remains true and just as beautiful even today.  The many additions to both games will be a joyful treat to fans.  First off, both of these titles are the international director’s cuts that were never released in North America.  This of course means more content, story, and of course hidden bosses for those of you looking for bigger challenges. For those of you trophy hunters, I am happy to say that both titles have fairly robust trophy listings.  While some are easy to obtain, others will take quite a bit of skill in order to obtain them.  Unfortunately, the poor syncing of voice acting and lip movement of the characters still run rampant in both titles.  

 

The battle system is just as fast paced and fun with similar and new opponents aiming to challenge you at every turn.  The storyline progresses rather smoothly, and the option of open-exploration as the game progresses is a great thing to have.  The storyline for Final Fantasy X is timeless and among one of the most touching love stories ever within a Final Fantasy title, while it’s sequel offers a very distorted storyline, but ultimately (provided you get the correct ending) brings the story to a fitting conclusion.  Score: 10/10

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Whether you are a fan of both titles, or looking for a fantastic RPG, Final Fantasy X/ X-2 HD Remaster is definitely bang for your buck!  You are getting two uncut RPG titles, each with over (and I stress OVER) 50 hours of gameplay.  I urge any RPG or Final Fantasy fan to add this title to their collection.  You won’t regret this investment. 

 

Final Score: 9.5/10

I am in the process of reviewing Dark Souls 2, and a niche RPG, Atelier Escha and Logy.  These will be posted in the next week or so.  Be sure to follow my blog and tell your friends about it, until then, happy BlitzBalling!

Bravely Default Review

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Welcome back everyone to my esteemed blog.  The JRPG genre has been faltering in recent years, leaving some fans wondering, will there ever be a true JRPG that can remain true to the old-fashioned mechanics while blending new intuitive elements?  Square-Enix, of all companies makes an attempt to answer that question with their newest RPG Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS.  So, does Square-Enix still have what it takes to bring out a good JRPG?  Let’s review.


Graphics:  
Bravely Default sports a wonderful array of graphics.  Character models are very well done with Akihiko Yoshida taking the lead on the character artwork.  Monster designs are very impressive, with some creatures being cutesy, and others fearsome.  The most outstanding aspect of Bravely Default is the world itself.  Locale in this game, especially towns have hand drawn backgrounds that really pop.  The characters sprites seem to blend in beautifully with these environments.  This is something that is often attempted, but rarely executed well.  Square-Enix attempted and delivered.  Score: 9/10

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Sound:  Naotaka Hayashi and Sound Horizon’s Revo combine their talents to bring an excellent musical score that blends compelling music to draw you in and keep you there, especially in over world and battle scenes.  The voice acting is fairly hit or miss.  Some voice actors actually take their roles seriously, while others sound as if they are just being a mouthpiece to get a paycheck.  Score 8.5/10

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Gameplay:  Bravely Default features a typical RPG storyline.  You play as Tiz Arrior, a young man who loses his entire home after the wind crystal is taken over by a malevolent force.  It is then you run into Agnes (Ah ness) Oblige, the Wind Vestel that everyone is after.  You, Agnes, Ringabel and Edea run into each other fairly early in the game.  This is a good strategy, because it allows you to get acquainted with these characters, know their individual stories, and eventually become attached to their personalities.  The gameplay of Bravely Default is amazing because it blends traditional RPG elements, such as the job class (approximately 20 classes) and a new aspect to the traditional RPG battle system. Enter the Brave Default system.  This element gives players the option to choose “Brave” an offensive approach that allows them to act multiple times at the sacrifice of AP, or “Default” a defensive approach that allows you to gather extra AP to unleash attacks on your foes without penalty.

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Some of you may think about just going all out brave the entire time, but the more your AP goes into the negative numbers, the more times you are unable to act with that character until it replenishes.  This brings a refreshing tune up to the traditional turn-based RPG engine, while keeping the nostalgia alive.  You can also use skills that other players who are further in the game have already obtained via the abililink feature, and link with friends to help rebuild your shattered village.  This game has a huge amount of features and a challenge to match.  Score: 10/10

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Bravely Default is the JRPG fans have been dying for.  The story is great, the characters are fun, and the battle system is among the most fun and challenging gaming mechanics I have ever played in a JRPG.  Don’t miss out on this game folks, this is a keeper!

Final Score: 9.5/10

 

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 Demo Review

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Welcome back friends to another edition of the gaming angel.  Things have been quite frigid in my neck of the woods, so frigid that my internet was blown out.  I also celebrated my birthday so that took up a large majority of my weekend.  Now that my internet capabilities are restored, I can get back to the gaming goodness, and give to you all my unbiased feedback.  Without further adieu, let the blogging begin.

Square-Enix or Squeenix, as they have been referred to in recent years has suffered a lot of financial setbacks.  They are not only suffering financial setbacks, but they suffer from a deficiency of bringing quality games to fans.  Early this week, Square-Enix released the very small downloadable demo of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 for the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360 gaming consoles.  As many of you know, this particular installment of the once amazing franchise has been called the worst of the entire series.  Most complained about the extreme linearity of the first, whilst complaining about the very defragmented and confusing story of the second.  Now, we have the third installment of the Final Fantasy 13 saga.  The question is does this installment look like a worthy follow-up?  Read on to find out.

Graphics:  LRFF13 is beautiful in terms of presentation.  The few areas of the demo were very vibrant and impressive.  The characters are similar in design, and of course the CG movie sequences are as amazing as before.  This is definitely a sugar overdose in the eye candy department.  Score: 10/10

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Sound:  Masashi Hamazu does a very admirable job with the musical score but, it will never be as beautiful as the work of Nobuo Uematsu.  Score: 8.5/10

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Gameplay:  The battle system of the game has had a very shocking makeover.  It has been remade into a more real-time battle system consisting of using only Lightning.  You can actually move her around the battlefield in a defensive pace.  Lightning possesses an ability called schema (job class).  To those who are familiar with the garb system from Final Fantasy 10-2, you will be more than acquainted with the schema system.  You can equip up to three schemas for battle purposes, each with 100 ATB.  You have set skills assigned to a particular button.  You can use these skills until the ATB for that schema is depleted.  Once it is, you must quickly switch to another schema while the depleted one replenishes.  It allows for fluid gameplay, while adding a strategic element when fighting an opponent with a particular weakness.  This is a vast improvement over the battle system of the previous installments.  The storyline is still difficult to grasp this early in the game.  We can only hope that Square-Enix will give us an impressive story to make up for the previous two games.  Score: 8.5/10

Demo Final Score: 9/10

Since Final Fantasy 13 has not been doing well, I say give the demo a shot.  By all means let me know what you think.  Stay tuned when I review Bravely Default.  Until next time dear gamers.

The Guided Fate Paradox Review

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Welcome back friends to another edition of The Gaming Angel.  I hope your Halloween holiday was full of tricks and treats.  Over the last decade, Nippon Ichi Software (NIS) has become known for their very niche gaming titles such as Atelier Iris, Mana Khamia, Ar Tonelico, and of course their most famous franchise, Disgaea.  Now, we look at their latest release entitled The Guided Fate Paradox for the Playstation 3 console.  With NIS titles, it is usually hit or miss with their releases.  So is this another sleeper hit like Disgaea and Atelier Iris, or is this a title you should miss at all costs?  Let’s review shall we?

Graphics:  Fans of the Disgaea series will feel right at home with The Guided Fate Paradox.  The characters are bright and colorful, while the monsters have a very similar design pattern to Disgaea.  The art design of the environments and dungeons are very lush and colorful.  Score: 8/10

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Sound:  Yosei Teikoku does a brilliant job of bringing music that is fitting to the situation of the game’s story, while at times, some of the music is a bit too cheerful and perky for the dungeon environments.  Some of the english voice acting is on par, but there are others that make you want to turn the vocal option to Japanese.  Score: 8.5/10

Gameplay:  Like most NIS RPG’s, this is where the proof in quality comes into play.  The Guided Fate Paradox is a dungeon crawler RPG that has many similarities to the Chocobo’s Dungeon series.  You come across a dungeon and explore freely until you encounter a foe or foes, depending on the situation.  When you encounter an enemy, it becomes more turn-based and strategic.  You take turns moving around the map.  When you move, they move-when you attack, they attack.  Click on this link to view an example of the gameplay.  It is a nice change of pace that RPG fans will enjoy.

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The story of The Guided Fate Paradox is very interesting and definitely unique to say the least, but not unheard of by RPG standards.  You take the role of Renya, a boy who after winning the lottery, is chosen to be god.  Now he must answer the prayers of those that pray to him.  It is indeed an interesting twist to your standard RPG cliches of someone attempting to be a god and trying by any means to achieve it.  In this game, you simply spin a raffle cage and presto, you are now God.  Score 9/10 

NIS faithful fans and Disgaea fans will definitely love The Guided Fate Paradox.  Whether you are an NIS fan or a fan of RPG’s, you should definitely add The Guided Fate Paradox to your gaming library.  It takes a pleasant step away from the typical RPG cliche’s in both gaming and story.

Final Score: 8.5/10 

As many of you know, Playstation 4 comes out next Friday, November 15th.  So I will be back November 18th, with a review of the PS4, and Knack, one of the premiere titles.  Until then friends, be sure to subscribe, take care and Happy Gaming!  

 

Pokemon X and Y Review

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Happy Halloween dear readers and welcome back friends to my blog.  It’s been a very trying few weeks and I apologize for the long hiatus, but Halloween festivities, and creating my costume (see below) have really been syphoning my time as of late, but now the blogging can go on.  As many of you know Pokemon is one of the biggest franchises in Nintendo’s arsenal, we have seen the series go through many changes, and seeing many adaptations.  Now the franchise makes it’s way to the 3DS with Pokemon X and Y.  So, does this transition hold true to the series, or has it been lost in translation?  Read on to find out.

Clicker Costume I made for Halloween from The Last of Us.

Clicker Costume I made for Halloween from The Last of Us.

Graphics:  There are times when some games that transition from 2D to 3D are messed up in the process.  Thankfully, in the case of Pokemon X and Y, the transition was done beautifully.  The world of Pokemon has made a successful transition to the 3DS, sporting a beautiful world, great characters, and most importantly, the Pokemon look fantastic in 3D.  The colors are bright and plentiful, and the graphics on and off battle sequences are a complete joy to look at.  Score: 10/10

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Sound:  To say that fans of Pokemon will have an “eargasm” listening to the soundtrack of Pokemon X and Y is the biggest understatement of 2013.  Shota Kageyama, Minako Adachi, Hitomi Sato, and Junichi Masuda merge their talents together to bring a powerhouse musical score that stays true to the Pokemon tradition.   It’s a huge delight to listen to for fans both old and new.  Score: 10/10


Gameplay: 
This is the biggest chunk of the entire package, minus the transition from 2D to 3D.  Besides the great quest of becoming the best trainer and catching them all, so much more has been added to this package that makes the game soar.  Everything you could ask for is here from battling and collecting a mass amount of Pokemon, to exploring the massive Luminose City, to collecting trainer badges.  Pokemon X and Y will definitely keep you more than entertained.  The most amazing addition to this franchise is the Wi-Fi playability.  Players can now use the 3DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities to challenge friends who are within range.  So, if you want to strut your stuff, and a friend is nearby just sit back and show him or her who is really the best trainer of all.  Score: 10/10

Anyone who is looking for a great RPG, or Pokemon fans who have been waiting for a timeless Pokemon adventure should add this title to their library.  It is without a doubt the best Pokemon in the series.

Final Score: 10/10

Shin Megami Tensei IV Review

ImageWelcome back everyone to my amazing blog.  Summer always marks the sign for new releases in the gaming world.  The Shin Megami Tensei series has been climbing it’s way to the top in terms of recognition since the release of Persona in 1997.  Now the long underrated series is getting the respect it deserves.  Releases such as Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner, and the more recent Soul Hackers for the 3DS are opening gamer’s eyes to this unique and amazing series.  

Now Atlus has graced us once again with the latest installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series Shin Megami Tensei IV for the Nintendo 3DS.  This title has been very anticipated by fans of the RPG genre.  SO now the question remains, does the latest installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series deliver?  Read on to find out.

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Graphics:  Shin Megami Tensei IV is fair in terms of graphics.  The backgrounds are somewhat decent but can seem a little too blocky at times.  There is not too much to speak about in regards to animation since it mainly consists of still hand-drawn images.  The creatures are fairly unique, some are fan favorites, while others are brand new to the Shin Megami franchise.  The character designs seem somewhat bland but, it’s nothing that will make you put the game down.  Score: 7.5/10

Sound:  The soundtrack is fairly suiting to the game’s overall feel but, there are very few memorable tracks in this game.  The voice cast does a wonderful job of bringing the rather bland cast to life.  Score: 8.5/10

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Gameplay:  This is the meat of the package.  Exploration is done in 3rd person view, as opposed to Soul Hackers’ first person perspective, which allows for more depth in exploration.  The story is very well written and it holds enough interest for the player to endure the MANY DIFFICULT BATTLES that come your way.  Demon negotiation and fusion also make their star studded return.  There are over 400 possible demons you can encounter and create throughout this game.  Trust me when I say this, if you are someone whose “gotta catch em all” you will love this game.  Score 9/10

Though Shin Megami Tensei IV has a few faults, it is still a deep and challenging RPG.  No RPG fan should overlook this 3DS title.  I would highly recommend this title.

Final Score 8.5/10

Be sure to follow my blog, and be sure to tune in next time when I review Dragon’s Crown and Tales of Xillia.

 

Persona 4 Golden Review: A classic beautifully remastered!

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HD Remakes are becoming an overpopulated category as of late, and now Atlus adds to this category with Persona 4 Golden for the PS Vita.  Does this version outdo the original?  Read on to find out.

Graphics:  Persona 4 is resurrected in beautiful high definition.  Atlus really did an impressive job in smoothing out the sometimes boxy pixellation of the original version.  New anime cut-scenes add to the enjoyment.  Score: 9/10

Gameplay:  The gameplay style of Persona 4 that fans remember returns in full fury.  Battles are quick and action packed, the dungeons are randomly generated and well designed.  The collection of Personas is more robust with new Personas added to the library or compendium.  The murder mystery storyline is among the best RPG story lines out there.  There is also TONS OF STUFF TO DO!  You battle creatures trying to save your friends from a horrible fate, while managing a student lifestyle on the side.  Everything from dating, to holding a job, even studying for mid-terms and final exams.  It’s all here in one terrific package.  Score 9.5/10

Sound:  Shoji Meguro does it again with this amazing soundtrack.  The catchy J-Pop music that plays during battles is addicting and doesn’t annoy a person in anyway even after 65 hours of gameplay (yes I have been playing for this long).  This is a soundtrack that will dazzle fans everywhere.  Score: 9.5/10

Issues:  Some people found the fact that there is so much to do in so little time in this game.  I only found this a reason to replay this amazing adventure and find those Personas.  Not to mention the hidden bosses in the game as well.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Did you enjoy Persona 4?  Do you like the Persona series?  I would love to hear from you!  Please leave me your feedback, and thanks again for reading and following my blog!  Until next time!

Lucas

Dust An Elysian Tale Review: Another stealth hit makes it’s way to XBOX Live Arcade.

Hello cats and kittens, and welcome back to my esteemed blog.  As many of you already know by now, I have been giving my XBOX some good attention as of late.  However, recently I was playing some old Sega CD games and played through a classic platformer RPG called Popful Mail.  I always wondered if another title like this would ever grace us again.  Then as I was browsing through XBOX Live arcade I noticed a title that caught my eye called Dust An Elysian Tale.  The artwork was very similar to that of past Vanillaware titles, so naturally I was hooked.  So does this title deserve recognition and praise?  Read on to find out.

Graphics:  From the moment you dive into this game the graphics blow you away.  The animation is smooth and crisp.  The backgrounds are simply beautiful in design, and the character designs have a Muramasa the Demon Blade type of feel to them.  They get cuter with each encounter, plus your character is a bunny rabbit.  Score: 9/10

Gameplay:  For those of you wishing for an amazing gameplay experience look no further.  The controls are smooth and the combat is quick and stylish.  If you love hack and slash this is right up your alley.   You have RPG elements such as leveling up your character, equipment, potions, and forging new equipment.  The story of Dust is simply amazing, while most titles focus on soulless polish as opposed to beauty in a story, Dust achieves both very well.                 Score: 10/10

Sound:  A beautiful musical score and equally amazing voice cast.  You couldn’t ask for anything more.  Score: 9/10

Issues:  Even though there are four difficulty levels and hidden secrets to find, the only issue some might have is with the bosses.  The bosses are not big and climactic, and they are not challenging in the least.  This does not hinder the rest of this amazing package.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Thanks for reading my post and be sure to follow my blog.  Tell your friends to follow my blog for all the latest news and reviews.

Lucas

Persona 4 Arena Review: Fighting and RPG beautifully combined.

Hello everyone, and welcomed back to my esteemed blog.  For quite some time I have been praying for a fighting game that would have more to it than just kill the opponent.  I prayed for something with a little more depth.  Atlus and Arc System Works have thankfully answered my prayers with the new collaborated title Persona 4 Arena.

Graphics:  From the moment you turn the game on the graphics and anime cutscenes never fail to impress.  The animation is clean and crisp and the in game graphics are smooth.  A definite 2D fighter gem.  Score: 9/10

Gameplay: Keep in mind folks, this is not a fighting game where the only objective is beat, smash, and kill senselessly.  This fighting game actually has a very in depth story to it.  Don’t expect to beat this in a day with all the characters.  The story takes place two months after the Inaba murder mysteries in Persona 4.  The fighting engine is clean and fast paced.  The new quick combo feature is a nice way for beginners to dive right in without the intimidation of those tournament level pros.          Score: 9.5/10

Sound:  Shoji Meguro does a good job of blending in some classic tracks from Persona 3 and 4, along with a few remixes.  I can’t get the Arena version of Reach Out to The Truth out of my head.  Score: 9.5/10

Final Score: 9.5/10