Review: Persona 3: FES

Over six months ago, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 by Atlus hit the market, captivating players with its captivating plot, well-developed characters, impressive graphics, and intense gameplay. We thoroughly enjoyed playing it and were not alone in our enthusiasm. Soon after its release, the game became highly sought after, and both Atlus and the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona franchise gained widespread attention.
Soon after Japanese gamers were treated to a special edition of Persona 3 called Persona 3: FES, which included a new 30-hour chapter called Episode Aegis, news of its release spread. American fans eagerly awaited its arrival and after some teasing, Atlus announced the release of Persona 3: FES in the US in late February. The game was a combination of the original game and the new side story, all on one disc, and was released as a gesture of gratitude to fans for only $29.99.
In our review, we examine the latest package and evaluate its value. Is it worth buying for existing Persona 3 owners? Is FES the recommended starting point for new fans? Additionally, we explore the meaning behind the acronym FES.

Hit the jump to find out.

[Note: As we have already reviewed Persona 3, please refer to our original review for details on the story and gameplay. This review focuses on the additional content added in FES.] 

Persona 3: FES (PS2)
Developed by Atlus
Published by Atlus
Released on April 22
, 2008

According to Atlus, FES is short for “festival,” and Persona 3: FES is a celebration of gaming worth. This package not only includes the elusive Persona 3 in its entirety but also the standalone game, Episode Aegis. Additionally, FES serves as an expansion pack for the original game, introducing more quests, events, costumes, several new Persona, and a challenging difficulty mode.

The titles of the two games, Episode Yourself and Episode Aegis, have been changed to The Journey and The Answer, respectively. Players who have saved files from Persona 3 can choose to load them when starting The Journey. This feature allows them to enjoy the original story while retaining some of the progress they made in the 70+ hour RPG. Although not everything will be carried over, registered Personas and maxed social links will remain intact.
The Journey in Persona 3 has undergone some changes. The character interactions have been updated, and they are more mobile than before. If you are returning to the Persona world, it is best to forget where you previously found in-game characters as they may have moved. The dialogue and questions have also been altered. However, the story remains the same as the original game, but with added items, costumes, and minor modifications to keep things fresh for returning players. Keep an eye out for Yukari’s “high-cut armor!”
In The Answer, you take on the role of Aigis, an android created by the Kirijo Group who is becoming increasingly human. Aigis gains the same ability as the protagonist in The Journey, allowing her to summon various types of Persona. However, the entire cast of Persona 3 is trapped in the dorm and unable to leave due to a time loop that forces them to relive March 31st repeatedly. Metis, an android sister that Aigis never knew existed, guides them and reveals that a distortion called the Abyss of Time has emerged beneath the dorm. The SEES team embarks on a mission to uncover the secrets of the Abyss of Time and find a way to break free from the time loop.

The gameplay in The Answer remains faithful to the original title. As the player, you will continue to lead a team of four Persona users through dungeons that resemble Tartarus in the Abyss of Time. You will engage in battles against Shadows, summoning and utilizing your Persona to progress through the levels. The game culminates in challenging and lengthy boss battles that require strategic planning and execution.
The Answer presents a noticeable increase in difficulty compared to the original game. Battles are more challenging, and finding healing and replenishment items is much more difficult. As in the previous game, grinding is necessary before facing bosses. Although there are fewer boss battles in The Answer, leveling up is crucial to defeating each one. Additionally, there is no Persona Compendium available, meaning that players cannot redo their choices when mixing and matching Personas.
Regarding the battle system, numerous enhancements have been made. Persona can now be transformed into new weapons, and there are fresh items available. Additionally, you can customize your music playlist to enhance your dungeon crawling experience.
Similar to Persona 3, you have the ability to issue general commands to your party members, but ultimately, it is up to them to decide on the specific actions they will take. In the past, your party members may have made poor choices, leaving you in a difficult situation. However, it appears that the team has become more intelligent since then. For instance, if you discover that a particular enemy is vulnerable to ice magic, your team will now consistently use ice magic to knock down your opponents right away. Additionally, they will be more attentive to your healing needs in this game. Nevertheless, your team and the AI may still occasionally issue unhelpful commands.
The visual and auditory elements of Persona 3: FES remain impressive, maintaining the same level of sharpness and detail as the original game. The stylish and trendy design aesthetic is also present in this title, with the new Personas featuring their signature bizarre designs. The introduction of new characters, such as Metis, adds to the game’s appeal. The final boss is particularly noteworthy for its strangeness. Additionally, The Answer includes several anime sequences, culminating in a fantastic finale. The game also features new music, including remixes of familiar tracks.
It’s difficult to discuss The Answer’s plot without giving away spoilers. However, it’s worth noting that the majority of the game involves battling with minimal character interaction. Unlike the original game, there is no school to attend and the story unfolds in fragments after each significant fight. The game features a few surprising plot twists before concluding, but ultimately, it does an excellent job of resolving any loose ends from the original game.
Persona 3: FES surpasses its predecessor, which was already one of the top RPGs of the previous year, by offering an abundance of gameplay and exceptional value. For those who are new to the game, a mere $30 will provide them with more than 100 hours of captivating role-playing action, making it one of the best RPGs available for the PlayStation 2 at an unbeatable price. Fans of Persona 3 will undoubtedly want to get their hands on this game to experience the gratifying conclusion to the story and all of the remarkable new features. Don’t let this game slip away.

Score: 10.0 (Incredible. As close to perfection as we’ve yet seen in in the genre or gaming on the whole. A polished, unparalleled experience. )