Developed by:Arc System Works Published by:ATLUS Genre(s):
  • Fighting
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1-2 Release date:August 7, 2012 Reviewed on:XBox 360

    Persona 4 Arena

    Persona 4 Arena (P4A) is a fighting game spinoff of the popular Persona series. ATLUS jumped on the recent fighting game craze and teamed up with Arc System Works (BlazBlue, Guilty Gear) to make this interesting title. Well, I’m happy to say that the big risk they took in making this game actually paid off! P4A does a very good job of appealing to the hardcore fighting game crowd while still being assessable to fans of the RPG that may have never played a fighting game before.

    Jumping right into gameplay, if you were a big fan of the BlazBlue series, then you’ll quickly find your way in this game; it shares a lot of the same core mechanics. P4A is a four button game (A,B,C,D are mapped to the four face buttons on your controller) featuring two human attacks and two Persona attacks. I’ll get into the Persona’s a bit later. While there are only four buttons, the controls can feel a bit clustered at times due to the numerous button combinations used for any given action. A simple maneuver (a throw) can be done by pressing the C and D buttons at the same time. The Burst, an “escape” ability, is done by pressing A, B, and C at the same time. You can see how it can begin to feel clustered and/or confusing; there are more combinations to learn. The controls are map able, and there is an auto-combo system to help those that are new to fighters.

    Going back to Personas, every character has their own unique persona (a facet of their psyche) that they can summon to fight by their side. Personas are powerful but are not invincible. All personas have health represented by four cards just below your health bar. A direct hit on your persona or a hit on your character while your persona is out causes you to lose one card. If you lose all four cards you lose your persona for 10 full seconds which is a major disadvantage in this game. Losing your persona means you lose your ability to do supers, persona based attacks, and Burst! What really makes P4A unique is that there are RPG style status effects, giving the gameplay an amazing amount of depth. Fighters can be poisoned, which causes damage over time, or shocked, causing a temporary paralysis. These effects can be inflicted a number of ways (Persona attacks, Throws, Counters, etc.)

    With all the different mechanics, you’d think it would be easy to get lost really quick. Like I mentioned before, Arc System Works did not leave the RPG fans to fend for themselves. There is a Lesson mode that teaches you everything, from basic movement to how to use the advance tactics like canceling attacks into other attacks. There is also a Challenge mode for each character that features a lot of practical (and some unpractical) combos showing you what each character is capable of. With the Lesson, Challenge, and a separate Training mode you should be well equipped in fights. Speaking of training, this mode is one of the more in-depth training modes I’ve played. It allows you to adjust super meters, life bars, persona cards and even controlling the CPU with record/playback functions; basically a way to practice for any situation that might come up during battles!

    There are three modes that that allow you to play against the CPU (Story, Arcade, and Score Attack). The Arcade and Score Attack modes are very similar. In arcade mode you battle a set number of CPU opponents. If you lose you can continue from whatever match you lost on. In Score Attack there are no continues. You battle for a score which gets posted on the online leaderboards. The Story mode in my opinion is a little disappointing.  When you start the story mode you have to pick one of the four starting characters (Yu, Chie, Yukiko, and Yosuke). Everyone’s story is in sections; at a certain point a “To be continued” screen with come up and you’ll have to go back to the main story screen. When you get to that screen you unlock part of the story for the other characters. Here’s where things got pretty disappointing. The story is text based, with minimal voice acting and very few cutscences…with very minimal animation. There is a LOT of reading to do. The text is accompanied by nice looking still images but that just isn’t enough. The only way I can see this being good is if you happen to be a huge fan of the series and looking for every bit of the story you can find. On a good note though your decisions affect what happens in the story, which stays true to Persona’s RPG background. Other than that the story tends to drag.

    Arc System Works left me with a really good impression on the online mode. At release the PS3 version had a very good netcode but the Xbox 360 version was awful. They acknowledged the mistake and within two days of release came out with a patch to fix it. With the patched netcode, this game feels amazing to play; there is virtually no lag in a good connection and it manages to stay consistent throughout matches. Netcode wise, this game’s only rival would be Soul Calibur V which is saying a lot. Very impressive!

    P4A has an anime art style which looks really nice with its bright and vivid colors. During gameplay it moves at a smooth 60 Frames per second which allows it to flow nicely. Combine this with the beautiful backgrounds and you get gaming eye candy. The only down side are the stills that are displayed during the story. Though they look nice, they can’t compare to gameplay visuals. The music is great! It’s very upbeat and keeps up with the pace of the game. The voice acting in the story, like I mentioned before is minimal and requires you to read more than anything. So the sound during gameplay and the main menu is good but during the story, it leaves much to be desired.

    That said, P4A is definitely worth a try if you’re looking for a good fighting game with great online gaming. The RPG fans will probably dig the story, even with all the text. Everyone else won’t mind too much; to be honest who needs a story in a fighting game? With a ton of game modes and really deep but simple gameplay, this game can really take a nice chunk out of your gaming time!



    Creating a game with really deep, yet simple gameplay is not an easy task at all. Arc System Works hit the nail on the head.



    The game looked amazing with its art style and vivid colors but the story was 90% still shots. I would’ve preferred more animated cutscences.



    Love the soundtrack; it fits with the speed of the game but the voice acting is limited. Teddie’s baseball bat counter hit is one of the greatest sounds ever!

    What's New:


    It’s a fighting game with a large amount of RPG elements. It’s a combination you wouldn’t normally expect to work.

    Replay Value:


    The story isn’t that great to me. Fans will dig its length though. Being this is a fighting game the replay value will come more from multiplayer then from the story so, for everyone else, the subpar story doesn’t affect it much.

    Final Score:


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