First of all, let’s have a little background music for this article, just have a go at it by starting the video below, which is one of my favourite songs from the game.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCYHCmjGqs8<a class="linkification-ext" title="Linkification: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCYHCmjGqs8&feature=PlayList&p=9E6AF44279853FDA&index=17" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCYHCmjGqs8&feature=PlayList&p=9E6AF44279853FDA&index=17"></a>
This song is called “Living with Determination” from the Persona 3 Soundtrack. I’m going to be careful with spoilers, but this song is introduced to the game close to the end, when the plot revolves around determination and courage. The song is also a variation of a song used for sad scenes, for example it plays while you are with one NPC which you accompy while he is slowly dying and searches for the purpose of his life. However, with the beat the song becomes less sad and more encouraging.
It’s not the graphics (it is after all a PS 2 game) or the gameplay that kept me going through the ~74 hours I spent until the end of the game. It’s rather a lot of small story bits and scenes that give the game depth and meaning, as well as atmospheric things like this song. Scenes like going on the summer vacation with the rest of the team, living through a year at school, seeing friends die and finding new ones add up in the end. The end is also handled nicely, giving the player the opportunity to revisit some places and people, but still pulling the plot to a close soon after.
Of course there are some bad points as well. The grind up towards the final boss was long and often monotonuous – find the weakness of the enemy, eploit it, repeat. The crazy boss fights made up for this, and especially in the end there was almost only just a gap of two levels between the recommended levels. Compared with the only other “big” JRPG I’ve played so far (Final Fantasy X), the overall story was a bit weaker and less involving in this game, but the characters were fleshed out better then I remember from FF X.
Now I think I’m going to do a short break and then tackle the extra part added in FES, “The Answer”. I’ve read some varying statements of how long it will take, and I’m guessing something like 20-30 hours, which, in comparison to the whole game, feels overseeable.
A last word of advice: During my first try at the final boss, I got the last form down to a fraction of it’s health and then got annihilated by the “last resort” spell of the boss. In case anyone has the same problem, have a look at how to access Monad (must beat the Reaper, but with the right tactic – involving Odin and Thunder Reign – it’s no problem). Once there, a good tactic is going in, defeating one regular enemy and going out to save again. Why? The enemies are very strong but manageable (almost all have weaknesses) and especially at lower levels killing one enemy can result in enough XP to rise one level! I got from level 74 to 91 in ~4 hours, and the boss was no problem at all afterwards.