Developed by:Arc System Works Published by:ATLUS Genre(s):
  • Fighting
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1-2 (2 Online) Release date:September 30, 2014 Reviewed on:XBox 360

    Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

    Fighting game and Persona fans rejoice as Persona 4 Arena Ultimax has been released. This follow up to Persona 4 Arena had some big shoes to fill. P4U was not only a fighter that appealed to casual and season players, it also including an interesting story for Persona fans. The good news for us is that Arc System Works always seems to outdo themselves!

    Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (P4AU) starts off directly where P4A left off. The investigation team meets up in their usual spot and talk about who could be the culprit of the previous P-1 Grand Prix. After seeing what they came up with they begin to make their way home. Later that night weird things start to happen. It turns out the midnight channel is back but, there’s something different this time. The TV world and real world are coming together and a new tournament has begun, the ‘P-1 Climax’. Ok, it might be a little confusing to those who haven’t played Persona before. Just know that things happen and our heroes need to punch a lot of people to save the world; the abridged version as the plot is much deeper than that. What everyone should understand is how the story unfolds.

    Things are a little different this time around. The story menu starts with just one episode that branches out into multiple episodes. After choosing what episode you want to start, you’ll see things play out from the different character’s perspective – pretty standard for a fighting game. The problem I had with it is that you can’t advance in the story until you’ve completed all the branches, which leaves me with the question of choice. Why allow me to pick my route when I have to go back and play the other “options” anyways? It’s a minor gripe of course. Beyond that though, it’s certainly worth checking out. Being based on an RPG, fans should expect 20+ hour long trek (if you don’t skip any cutscenes and listen to the entire dialog). Even if you aren’t a fan, ATLUS did a great job of making sure everyone knows what’s going on. So there is something for everyone.

    P4AU shines in just about every other aspect, including the gameplay. The first thing to note is the amount of new content via characters and new moves for the original cast. There are nine new characters spanning Persona 3 and 4 and a shadow version of most of the roster. One could argue that the shadow versions aren’t completely new, but a closer look will reveal them to be quite different from their counterparts. For one, shadow characters cannot “burst” (escape) from combos which limits their defensive capabilities. They can however activate a mode called “Shadow Frenzy” which allows them to cancel moves they normally wouldn’t be able to as well as use SP (powered up) special moves at a reduced cost for a limited time. This leads to a crazy amount of combo possibilities.

    With most fighters, a new iteration offers up new tweaks to the core fighters to further balance the playing field. This is the case with P4AU; don’t worry about being overrun by the shadow versions. Skill is still the main factor in most fights. And for those who are new to the series, the auto combos and lesson mode is back. The latter is a great option since being updated with new mechanics and guides.

    P4AU has a nice selection of game modes. Arcade, Score Attack, Challenge VS and more populate the menus. The one I can see really building an audience with Persona fans though is the Golden Arena mode. Featuring RPG elements, this mode is made up of 4 different difficulty-based dungeons. The goal is for you and your navigator (partner) to make it to the top of the dungeon by defeating a fighter on each floor. Fighting grants XP that helps to level your character; they’ll get attribute points to strengthen abilities and unlock special skills. Your enemies will have their own levels and purchased characters to do battle with. Adding to this the randomness of bouts; you may face someone with max strength with powerful attacks or someone with a decent amount of endurance, staving off death. It’s up to you to outfit yourself with good skills in order to compete.  Using a skill that makes you immune to status effects could mean all the difference when facing a higher level opponent. With there being 200 floors between the difficulties it can keep you occupied for quite a while. If you like the idea of character development this could be the mode for you.

    Because of all the variety in game modes you can spend a significant amount of time with it before you even look to head online. Once you do go online though, you’re in for a treat. Arc System Works have been known to provide some of the best online experiences and P4AU does not disappoint. There were upgrades in every aspect from interface to features. Ranked matches made a huge upgrade in the form of enlisting. Instead of creating a ranked match and sitting there just watching your screen search for an opponent, you can enlist and go about your business. Similar to a queuing up for raids in a MMO, you can freely play other modes until a match is ready to be joined.

    My personal favorite addition comes in the player matches. While most games have 8 player lobbies with spectating Arc System Works took it one step further. Players in a lobby can now all play at the same time instead of waiting quarters up style. When you’re tired of playing against one person in the lobby, you can switch to someone else who isn’t currently fighting. No more waiting for people to finish their matches or frustration with people who just have to have a rematch. You can just keep bouncing around the lobby at will!

    With the plethora of game modes, new characters and moves to learn, and unique online features, there is actually something for everyone. Just like the first game, the causal fans have a lot to help them get up to speed. At the same time, the hardcore crowd will be salivating at the depth found in the fighting mechanics. Those who only care about Persona can still find enjoyment via the story mode. Throw in a great netcode for online matches and you have an awesome follow up to P4A!




    The devs took everything from P4A, improved upon them while adding cool new features. There’s plenty to sink your teeth into.



    Visually, the game looks like the previous title. That isn’t a bad thing. The story is still told mostly in stills but the animated cut scenes are a treat.



    The soundtrack stays true to the original. Still great music that really fits the pace of the fighting and the atmosphere of the story - Teddie’s baseball bat on counter hit is still one of the most satisfying sounds in the game.

    Replay Value:


    There is a lot of content on top of all the inherent replay value from fighters. The story and Golden Arena will keep the RPG fans occupied while the solid fighting mechanics will keep the competitive players happy.

    Final Score:


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