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Persona 4 Arena Preview (PS3)

June 12, 2012 Written by Nick Michetti

The Persona series — a spin-off of the best-selling Shin Megami Tensei franchise — is a series of RPGs with four main installments. After the fourth installment, though, Atlus has decided to create a spin-off for the series that moves into a strange new direction: fighting games. That’s right: after a series of successful RPGs, Atlus is branching the game out into the realm of fighters. However, like with most games published under the Atlus umbrella, Persona 4 Arena seems to be another notable release that will please their fans.

Persona 4 Arena is a collaboration between Arc System Works (BlazBlue) and Atlus. Arc System Works brought over what they’re known for: a great fighting game engine, good netcode, their expertise, and a stunning 2D animated graphics style as well. The acclaimed fighting developer fused those features into Persona‘s world and seems to have done so quite effectively. Fighting game fans will find an engine that they’ll want to keep playing games on, while Persona fans will find characters and story elements that they’ll want as well.

Arena‘s story is set a couple of months after the events of Persona 4, where everyone has been sucked into the Midnight Channel again. The game’s story is no slouch, either, with plenty of text and voiceover work powering a Story Mode that lasts somewhere between 2-8 hours. The game’s environments even allude to the television show setting.

How else does the game reflect its Persona heritage? By integrating fighter Personas directly into gameplay. Each of the thirteen characters in the game can use a Persona, which essentially expands the roster from thirteen fighters to twenty-six, as each Persona has its own moveset. Gamers will be able to take their fighters of choice online, too, even across continents — owners of the game in North America and Japan will be able to play against each other. Also, Atlus understands that gamers like dual language support, so gamers can look forward to enjoying the game in their choice of English or Japanese as well.

Despite being an odd marriage of RPG universe and fighting game, Persona 4 Arena‘s concept does just seem to work and has the integration of the acclaimed RPG series, not to mention the gameplay, to back it up. Arena seems to ooze Persona style while offering a fast and fluid fighter, which is about the best combination that fans of both genres could ask for. Persona 4 Arena will begin taking the fight to PS3 and Xbox 360 on August 7th.