Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Year: 2014
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Arc System Works, Atlus
Genre: Fighting
Review Date: 6/19/18
Rating: ***

I've never played a "Persona" game before, unless "Maken X" counts. As a result, I'm missing out on a lot of history and lore. Taking place a day after the events in "Persona 4 Arena," which takes place after the events in "Persona 4," a red fog has enshrouded the city and people have gone missing. The Investigation Team reassembles to find their missing friends, and a new enemy emerges. The Story Mode is painfully tedious, so I didn't last more than a couple hours before it became intolerable. Arcade Mode is more straight forward and only features a few campaign elements as the characters all aim for the same goal.

The animation is gorgeous and the character design is superb. The controls are tight and responsive, and the characters use a combination of melee and persona attacks. The personas are large and colorful entities that fill the screen with fancy attacks that are dizzying and distracting. While the female characters represent nearly half of the roster, only three of them are worth playing: Yukiko Amagi, Chie Satonaka, and Rise Kujikawa. Unfortunately, none of them are particularly interesting or compelling, which left me unengaged and emotionally flat.

The game gives you the option of Japanese in-battle voices, but everything outside of combat is in English, which is jarring and disruptive. Additionally, the English voices are terrible and a constant irritation. This is particularly disappointing, because in the original P4A the Japanese voices are left intact throughout the game. The delay between matches is annoying (and also longer than in P4A), and adds confusion because the opponent from the previous match is announced right before the match that you're actually fighting. The main menu is a confusing mess, and the entire production suffers from little nuisances all over the place. The game offers multiple difficulty settings, but even the easiest mode delivers a considerable challenge to beginners. Thankfully it's not so hard that you can't make steady progress with enough dedication. It's effectively the same game as P4A except with a larger roster and a different story mode. While I prefer the presentation of P4A more, the battle mechanics are more refined and balanced in Ultimax. Overall, I was underwhelmed by the game and don't feel like I need to seek out any other "Persona" titles.