Everyone has their own Persona online that they use to talk to other people. Whether or not that persona fits with who you actually are, in a strange way it’s still a part of you that you use almost everyday in the digital world. Do you ever “Sho” the real “Yu” to anybody? Endless puns can be made when it comes to a series like this, however since I can honestly go on forever, let’s get to the review.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the sequel to Persona 4 Arena. This time around you have the characters regrouping after the events in the last game, and taking on a very similar enemy, with a not so similar problem. New characters jump into this battle like Rise Kujikawa (with an improved Persona), Ken Amada (with Koromaru) and Junpei Iori (because with Derek Jeter gone, we need someone to swing for the fences!). These guys along with others add a few new styles of gameplay into the mix, but nothing does that more than the new Shadow type characters.
Each character has a Shadow counterpart. This version of their character is focused far more on risky but rewarding tactics, and they tend to fit more for players that like to play a very aggressive game style. You’ll see these characters make appearances in the story mode, a lot, since their presence is a major aspect of the bigger picture happening around you.
One… or two of the characters that you’ll probably come to love are Sho Minazuki, and Sho Minazuki. It sounds like I just named one character but I’m not yanking your chain, it’s actually two. You’ll see once you get into the story, this ends up making sense how one character is being split into two. It isn’t like Evil Cole and Cole in PlayStation All-Stars, this actually makes sense.
So what is there to say about Persona 4 Arena Ultimax? I’d prefer it if I didn’t spoil any of the story in this review, so there are really only certain things that I can touch on. If you’re a fan of these games, you know how long the story is, as well as how much dialogue there is packed into the game. If you’re new to the series, get this: The first almost 45 minutes of the story mode is JUST talking. You get a battle after that, and then there’s another almost 20 minutes of talking, and it slowly picks up speed as the story goes on.
For someone new to the series who doesn’t want to skip the dialogue, this could be some of the most tasking parts of the game. However the story is pretty gripping and many players shouldn’t have a problem with sitting through dialogue. There is one part in the game where Rise is trying to figure out which character is the real one, and trust me, it dragged on and on until I wanted to be hit by a folding chair.
With a game made by the same company that brings you BlazBlue, you would expect this to be crazy difficult and hard to pick up on, right? Well yes and no. The game definitely does cater at least a bit to more casual or beginner players. For instance, there are pretty decent combos mapped to the light attack button that you can mash in order to do some damage to your enemy with just a little bit of that flash that people love. This game also introduces the S-Hold system that lets you hold the light attack button and use a skill (instead of having to press down forward punch or something similar), so that players who are bad with inputs can have at least one move in their bag to use.
This isn’t the way that the game is meant to be played, and honestly, you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it if you just learn how to play and practice. A novice player may wonder: how am I going to do that? Luckily, this title has a truly solid Tutorial mode that walks you through all of the different things that you’ll want to know how to do. The best part of this is that you can sit here and grind through these different tutorials, and even take it to practice mode to test out your new skills before heading online.
This game sports many of the same modes from P4A, however there are slight changes among all of them. The new Golden Arena Mode is pretty boss, as it allows you to pick a character, take him/her through a ring of battles, and level them up while getting different skills that work as passives.
Another cool feature, which I haven’t seen with any other title in this genre, is that instead of having to wait in a lobby or sift through you can “enlist” in an online match. This means you can sign up for a match, go play the game in other modes and wait for your match to start.
Additionally, there will be several new characters available as DLC for the first time in the series: Adachi, Marie and Margaret. The first two are free up until a wekk after release; after that they, along with Margaret, will cost five bucks a pop. Each character comes with their own side-story in Story Mode, so it’s more than just another fighter.
All around, what can I say about this title? It has everything you really need in a fighting game. Great fighting with some pretty deep mechanics. A great story mode with really high quality character arts and plot points. Great writing, with parts of the game that’ll leave you scratching your head. Pretty good net-code, which kept me from entering laggy matches.
As a fighting game, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax does well for itself and deserves the title of the “Ultimax” game in this franchise.