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Persona 2 (PSOne)

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, the sequel to Persona is an intriguing RPG that bucks the trends and does away with the cliches of many other RPGs. Playing Persona 2 is a unique experience in which you a transported to the dark, occult world of Persona, a world with a surreal atmosphere that is sure to keep RPG gamers guessing. The story takes place in the modern world, a point that sets this game apart from your run-of-the mill RPG. Persona 2 forgoes the dragons and swordplay of most Square and Enix RPGs for a storyline with a backdrop in the modern world that becomes more twisted and deep as the story goes along.

You play as Maya Amano, the editor of the teen magazine, Coolest. Maya's editor sends her to cover a serial murder case that has been rocking the city and has been especially terrorizing those at the Seven Sister's High School. Maya learns that the murders have some link to the ritual know as The Joker's Curse, a bizarre ritual that calls upon a demon to grant your wishes. During her investigation, she encounters many strange happenings and is led down a path of darkness which will ultimately lead to the final confrontation with the Joker himself. Without giving away the plot, the game gets progressively stranger and more occult as Maya and friends get deeper into the mystery of the Joker and try to put an end to the murders.

The second installment of the Megami Tensei Series has dumped the nonconformist first person perspective of the first for a more standard perspective. Stunning anime cinematic scenes pull you into the intriguing world of Persona. These sequences blend traditional anime with CG animation and even though they are obscure and don't bring much to the storyline, they are a sight to behold.

Unlike the graphics, game play is first rate in Persona 2. Many intriguing, unique, and original elements are packed into the second Persona, including the ability to spread rumors through the city to further your own cause. Another element that adds depth is the "Contact System" that can be used during battle. A system by which you can start conversation with demons instead of fighting them to try to enlist their help, ask for money, or get information.

The combat system is one of the most complex of the all of the RPGs on the market right now. As in the first game the characters can call upon spirits known as "Persona" to aid them in battle. However, a new method of combining Personas during battle has been added. By casting certain Personas in a particular order, will allow you to combine them to increase their destructive potential with. Major changes have been made to the battle system since the first PERSONA. The new "Free" battle system allows the characters to move freely about the playing field. This allows the user to concentrate more on strategy without having to worry about where their characters are positioned.

The Bottom Line: With its dark, twisted storyline, deep and complex menus and game play and endless options, Persona 2 might scare away all but hard-core RPG aficionados.

SOUND: 8/10
- The music is standard RPG fodder. Although when you go into a general store there is a delightful little Japanese pop song.

- The graphics are a bit dated but the beautiful anime scenes that are dispersed throughout make up for lackluster play graphics.

STORY: 9.5/10
- It has one of the most stirring story and enthralling story out there.

- Multiple endings and over 50 hours of game play make sure that you will be playing for a while.

FUN: 8/10
- Persona 2 is a must buy for hard-core RPG fanatics, but for those who are less hard-core, be weary that is doesn't have the stunning graphics or point-and-click fighting system of most big name RPGs.

OVERALL: 7.7/10
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