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Persona 3: FES is an extended version of Atlus's 2006 Persona 3. The basic story of Persona 3 is that everyday at midnight, an additional hour (called The Dark Hour) occurs which can only be experienced by certain people (including the main character). During this hour, the local school also becomes a monsterous labyrinth called Tartarus. To fight the monsters, the player characters use a 'Persona', a summoned creature. The main character can change persona, while the other party members have set persona. Each persona has it's own strengths and weaknesses, which means you need to balance the party to succeed.
The whole game revolves around balancing school life and dungeon exploration. During daytime, you can spend time with your friends and strengthen the social links, while at night, you try and progress through Tartarus. While it's tempting to ignore the daytime portion of the game, which can be lengthy, and get on with dungeon grinding, the advantages of strengthening the social links is that the persona fusion (a key portion of the game) is improved with additional experience and skills, as well as unique persona at the higher levels. There is also an epilogue for the main game, called The Answer, which removes the school life portion of the game, focussing more on the dungeon side of things.
Battles are a simple turn based affair, where you only control the main character and give generic orders to the other characters who are under AI control (such as All-out attack or Heal). The system works relatively well but the AI can act strange and be rather annoying at times. Examples of this include the AI using a single target healing spell over the all target equivalent when everyone is damaged, and using status effect spells against enemies when attacks would be much more effective. It's annoying but there's nothing that could be done about it.
The graphics are good for the PS2 but it's their design and look that really makes the game look great. The unique feel of Tartarus, with it's constantly changing appearance is in stark contrast with the school and it's normal look. The music is pretty good and is completely different to the typical RPG orchestrial music. The voice over is decent and is only in english.
Value for money wise, the game was released for £19.99 and is a brilliant game for that price. The game is difficult for a RPG, especially if you don't adjust to the way the game needs to played. Playtime wise, the main game will easily last for 60 hours, while The Answer lasts for 20-30 hours. FES also adds improvements over the standard Persona 3, as well as additional social link, making it the better version of the game.
Overall Persona 3 FES is a fantastic game. Although it's sequel improves on the gameplay in every way, the overall feel of the two games is different. Yet another fantastic RPG on the PS2.
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