The Journey was fun. The Answers was a journey.

User Rating: 9 | Persona 3: Fes PS2
Persona 3 is the story of 8 companions who attend high school during the day and battle a wide variety of monsters at night with their dark alter egos known as personae. For those that have never played a game such as this, check out the Gamespot review written by Kevin Van Ord. You play as a high school student who finds himself having a special power of being able to summon shadow beings within himself and experience a time during the middle of the night between midnight at 12:01 known as the dark hour. Along with your fellow classmates, an android and a very frisky dog, you spend every night during the dark hour exploring a tower known as Tartarus that appears in the place your high school sits, trying to figure out why the monsters of the dark hour are attacking people.

Going through the game, you notice that even though this game was released on the PS2, the developers really took the time to make this game look beautiful. The buildings in the town, the character models, the cut scenes, the monster battles and all of the personae...all very well done with such a rich array of colors and animations. Seeing a character cast a ice spell or slashing an enemy with a Hand of God is satisfying to watch. Even summoning a persona is exciting to watch albeit a little attention grabbing the first time you see it. Watching one of the characters pull out their evoker...which surprisingly resembles a hand gun...and shooting themselves in the head is as fun to watch the thousandth time as it is the first time.

The music in the game is a nice variety of Japanese pop and some slow instrumentals. There have been many times the music has found its way into my head while doing other things. Taking some extra time just to listen to the music playing in the background at the mall or switching to a specific BGM during your exploration of Tartarus will have you singing the songs to yourself when you aren't parked in front of the television.

The game play in the Journey portion is fun: plain and simple. You play the game in a morning, afternoon, evening and night time setting. Typically during the mornings and afternoons, you are in class and socializing with other classmates, teachers and potential girlfriends. You take periodic quizzes in class and attend after school clubs and organizations. Each school activity you perform and participate in will potentially put you in improved standings with your academics or social circles. During the evenings, you have the choice to spend time at the mall, visit a park or do a few other activities around town as well as stay in and study your school work. Night time is spent either getting rested for the next day or exploring Tartarus and having some monster-killing fun during the dark hour. Improving your social standings during the day helps to improve your potential to successfully explore Tartarus at night. Incorporating a good balance of life simulation and turn-based battling helps to keep things interesting.

A few things made the game a bit more complicated than needed such as managing your team and figuring out which skills your personae had. Trying to equip your characters while exploring Tartarus was an inconvenience at most, but still nothing that couldn't be worked through. Figuring out which of your persona to use during a battle based on their skills proved to be a little confusing at times as well, but again, nothing that couldn't be worked through.

The one major drawback to this game I have found is playing through the Answers mode. Though the story is compelling and does actually keep the same feel as the original game's fighting sequences, it tends to get tedious after a while. The Journey was good at mixing things up and not focusing so hard on one part of the formula. The Answers focuses strictly on fighting. Although it is still fun to watch these students call forth their personae and execute some very lavish actions, it just turns into a slow grind. Not to shed too much negativity on the additional content, there does seem to be a lot of answers provided to many questions you've probably never had.

Overall, the game is solid and the experience is nigh forgettable. You will find yourself cheering for your characters, singing the theme songs in your head, as well as sitting on the edge of your seat at times. If you are able to find a copy of this game at your local gaming distributor, pick up a copy since it is worth more than the value it is being sold for.