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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review

A great fighter that does justice to the Persona series

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Apart from the mechanics themselves, I love the character variety in Ultimax. Nearly doubling the roster of Persona 4 Arena (not counting their Shadows), each character has their own unique style and feel. Two fighters have separate versions of themselves, but even they play substantially different. Some characters even use their own systems. Aigis, a fully armed android, has ammunition she has to manage. Junpei uses a unique system that involves baseball rules. The more hits he gets and the more runs he scores, the more powerful he can become. But if he strikes out, it’s back to basics. Not only does the variety make it fun to learn new characters, but it also makes fighting against people a blast. Nearly every match I played with someone online used their characters in a different way from the last.

Playing online, you’ll be able to fight in ranked or unranked matches. As you build up a rank from F- to A+ you’ll have to face more difficult opponents to rise up the ladder. Each new rank feels like an accomplishment, but I got my butt whooped so much I stuck to unranked matches. One of my favorite additions to Persona Arena 4 Ultimax is the Lobby. Here you get a virtual avatar and can run around small arcades based on locations in the game. In here you can sit at a machine and wait for another player to run up and join. Players are allowed to talk and chat while in the Lobby, but the idea of creating a little character to start matches with is a lot of fun. It makes each match feel a little more personal than just getting matched with a random name.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

My only gripe with the online is true for most Arc System Works games. It’s nothing game-breaking but when you begin a match with someone who doesn’t have an amazing connection speed the intro of the fight lags pretty badly. If characters interact before their fight, it’s a bit choppy too. But luckily, once the match starts, everything seems to click into place and the game runs smooth. In every mode I played, the game runs beautifully without a hitch. Despite my one gripe with the online, I couldn’t take getting my butt whooped very long. Luckily, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax includes a wide range of modes to keep you occupied. Training, Lesson Mode, and Challenge Mode are all meant to help hone your skills. Lesson Mode will teach the basics, from performing special moves, to countering, to dashing while Challenge Mode will allow you to practice difficult combos. Once you’re ready you can play the arcade mode which will have you fighting through a loose story against multiple characters. Versus lets you play against a buddy or the AI. Score Attack cranks up the difficulty and has you chasing a high score based on how quickly and efficiently you fight. But my favorite mode is also new to Ultimax, the Golden Arena mode.

In Golden Arena you’ll choose to fight through one of three dungeons, depending on difficulty. As you fight your way through each floor through one on one battles, you’ll gain experience that can be used to level up and improve the stats of your fighter. This mode feels directly inspired by an RPG. Leveling up and making your fighter more powerful feels great. On top of stats, players are also given four slots to place abilities in. These abilities can range from never getting poisoned, to using less SP for attacks, and more. Figuring out which four to take can be tough sometimes, but there’s a content progression that always makes you feel stronger with each new fight. Golden Arena is a great addition to Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.

The last mode I want to talk about is the story mode. Improving upon the first Persona 4 Arena, Ultimax doesn’t force you to play through each character’s story that all basically tell the same tale. Instead, you play through a single timeline as multiple characters. Once finished with the story of Persona 4’s characters, access to Persona 3’s cast is unlocked. While these stories are written well, and retain what we love about the Persona cast of characters, I can’t help but feel bummed out.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

This is a fighting game, but playing Story Mode is like picking up a novel. I honestly spent over an hour reading and listening to characters talk before I was thrown into my first fight in Story Mode. These fights are made even shorter by being only one round, where most fights in other modes are played as best two out of three. After finishing one group’s story in about 4-5 hours, I would say I spent no more than twenty minutes in an actual fight. Even with a decent story and no matter how much I love these characters, I can’t get behind something like this. A fighting game should let me fight, not read for a half hour after every tussle. It breaks the flow of the otherwise fast-paced, fun, and frantic combat. While not necessarily being “bad”, I think the Story Mode easily becomes the biggest blemish on the title.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is hands down a fantastic fighting game that does justice to the “Persona” series. From the music to the characters and even the story, fans of the series are sure to enjoy Ultimax. For the uninitiated, you might have a harder time understanding what’s going on, but the solid fighting mechanics should be enough to have you stick around. Just whatever you do, don’t expect to fight in the Story Mode, expect to read. A lot.

Our ratings for Persona 4 Arena Ultimax on PlayStation 3 out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
87
The style is ripped straight from Persona 4. Big bold letters, yellow backgrounds, TV worlds all make an appearance. The music is remixed from the series’ old soundtracks. It really is a new Persona game, only now a fighter instead of an RPG.
Gameplay
90
The combat is fast-paced and over-the-top. Through the use of one button combos, hold combos, and Persona attacks, even beginners can get out there and fight well. For veterans, the vast amount of systems to master is more than enough to keep playing. The character variety also creates a fighting game where nearly every character is worth using.
Single Player
71
Multiple modes allow players to pick what kind of difficulty they want to face. Story Mode is the biggest disappointment here for solo players. You’ll read and watch cutscenes more than you’ll actually fight.
Multiplayer
85
Online and Versus mode allows you to play with a buddy next to you or across the world. Online options include Ranked and Unranked matchmaking that work well with plenty of options to find the type of opponent you’re looking for.
Performance
84
The only time the game really chugs for me is when starting an online match. The speed picks up before the match starts, but the buildup can be pretty choppy.
Overall
86
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax creates a deep, fun fighting game based off an entirely different genre. It improves upon the last Arena in every respect. The presentation, the fighting, the characters are all worth getting acquainted with for those with no ties to Persona. A disappointing Story Mode and some minor annoyances can’t stop this from being one of the best fighting games you can get right now.
Comments
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax box art Platform:
PlayStation 3
Our Review of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
86%
Great
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is ranked #130 out of 1970 total reviewed games. It is ranked #10 out of 152 games reviewed in 2014.
129. Forza Horizon 2
Xbox One
130. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
131. Dust: An Elysian Tail
PlayStation 4
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Screenshots

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
10 images added Sep 2, 2014 20:45
Videos
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax - Story Trailer
Posted: Sep 15, 2014 17:48
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