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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review

by Damian Seeto

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the sequel to the 2D fighting game Persona 4 Arena from 2012. The game is developed by Arc System Works, the team behind the enjoyable Blazblue series. Despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of the Blazblue series, I had never played a Persona game before this one. However, when I picked up Persona 4 Ultimax Arena for the first time it felt like I was right at home. Eventually it became clear that Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a good 2D fighter that will appeal to any fighting game fan whether they’re new to the genre or a hardcore follower.

Normally when I play a fighting game, the first thing I do is pick my favorite character and play through the Arcade mode. Since I’m a novice of the series, I had to practice first and familiarize myself with the characters that are on offer here in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Unfortunately Persona 4 Arena Ultimax lacks the diversity of characters that appear in other fighting games. This is mainly because the game focuses on young high school students. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I do miss the more unique fighters you tend to see in other games, such as Blanka in Street Fighter or Hakumen from Blazblue.

Thankfully, the gameplay in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is surprisingly accessible. I was expecting the game to be difficult as it looks like a frantic, fast paced 2D fighting game. However, it caters to beginners in various ways. Not only is there an “Easy” mode, there is also a “Safety” mode which is an even easier difficulty setting. Veterans of the series can choose higher difficulties to make things more chaotic if they want.

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax has a similar control scheme to the Blazblue series, which is particularly difficult for button masher style players. However, While this is still true in Persona, I feel that this game’s controls were much more friendly to those players than Blazblue’s, making it easier to memorize moves in the game. Usually in fighting games, you have so many characters that it can be hard to remember all of their unique moves off the top of your head. In Persona 4 Arena Ultimax most of the character’s command lists are very similar. This is great as it allowed me to try out most of the fighters without worrying about having to memorize their moves all over again.

The fighting mechanics in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax are similar to many other 2D fighting games, making for a familiar but fun experience. Each fighter has a variety of special moves in their arsenal, as well as a ghostly entity called a “Persona” that helps them out from time-to-time. One of the coolest features in the game is the “Instant Kill” mechanic, which functions as each characters’ super move. They are the strongest attacks in the game, allowing you to KO an opponent instantly no matter how much health they have. And it helps that they look really cool when you pull them off.

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a good 2D fighter that will appeal to any fighting game fan

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax has a generous number of modes for you to play. There’s the standard Arcade mode where you choose to play against the A.I. in a series of eight battles. You also get to experience some of the stories that unfold, although they are very brief in the Arcade mode. There is also the “Versus” and “Score Attack” modes that you see often in other fighting games. New to the series is a special mode called “Golden Arena”. This is basically the game’s take on Survival mode, with an RPG-like twist added to it. Unlike in other fighting games you can level up and increase your character’s abilities as you play through this mode. Keep in mind that this mode’s difficulty increases as you defeat more and more opponents. Golden Arena ended up being much more addictive than other fighting games’ Survival Modes.

The online multiplayer in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is also very impressive. The game is not out yet in PAL territories, so, I had to be matched up against mostly North American players. Even though I live all the way in New Zealand, I was still able to play online without too much lag or connection issues. Not to mention the lobby in this game is the best I’ve ever experienced in a fighting game. The lobby is like an old-school RPG where you can roam around and explore in a video game arcade. You will see other gamers busy playing on the arcade machines. If a machine is free, you can dive in and play. It’s a cute and clever lobby that other games should copy going forward.

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The story mode in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is just like you would experience in a Blazblue game. There are some fights you can participate in, although most of the story mode is actually for your viewing pleasure. It’s almost like watching a full series of an anime as there are hours upon hours of stories here. Presentation wise, this game looks and sounds great. The 2D cel-shaded graphics are excellent much like Arc System Works did previously with the Blazeblue games. Unlike in the Blazblue games however, there is more variety in the music.The music in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is simply awesome to listen to, and the voice acting is very good as well. None of the English voice actors sounded too goofy or out-of-place like in some other video games/anime series.

The Verdict

Overall, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is one of the best fighting games available right now. It has a fun gameplay style that can suit players of any skill level. There are also lots of modes for players to dig into that increases the game’s longevity and replayability. It’s worth buying this game to ease the time until the likes of Mortal Kombat X and Tekken 7 come out next year.

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
  • Published By: Atlus
  • Developed By: Arc System Works, Atlus
  • Genre: Fighting
  • US Release Date: September 30th, 2014
  • Reviewed On: PlayStation 3
  • Quote: "Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a highly enjoyable 2D fighting game that will appeal to fans of any skill level. If you are a fan of the Blazblue series, you will love this game even more as both games are very similar in looks and gameplay."
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