Persona 3 rocks my world.

I was skeptical at first.  I would sit back and watch reviews, I figured.

I’m glad I didn’t.

Oh, I was positive about Rogue Galaxy.  I enjoyed starting Final Fantasy XII.  But no game in the past year has hit me quite as hard as Persona 3 has.

Persona 3 continues the first game’s “high school cool” – high school students trying to figure out what’s going on in a world filled with the unknown – but also retains the school social element, which the first one lacked.

Social interactions in this game are entertaining.  They’re just detailed enough to be fun without getting overly involved, and none have really felt contrived so far.

The battle system is simple yet strategic.  It has many, many less things to worry about compared to the first game – in this one, you only control the main character, the status effects are less varied, and position doesn’t matter.  Somehow it retains a strong strategic element, particularly when it comes to a choice of persona.  Elemental weaknesses are king in this game, which keeps the simplicity of the system from making one bored.

And the atmosphere… is amazing, as it was with the first two games.  There is a keen sense of place throughout the game, which follows through from the localization (one thing, though – they kept all Japanese ‘titles’, for lack of a better word – -san, -kun,  and -tan have reared their faces… I don’t mind too much, but it may confuse some).  There isn’t quite the world-gone-horribly-wrong feeling of the first, nor the kinda-weird-stuff-but-still-okay of the second – it’s more of a “really weird stuff is going on, but nobody else can know!” feeling.  It’s cool, but it doesn’t really come through to the social interaction bits of the game so far, so it hasn’t “hit home”, so to speak.

And I’m only 5 hours in!  If only I could actually keep playing it over the next few days…

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