A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this role-playing game (RPG) is rated M for good reasons. Mature themes permeate the game, with much talk about life and death, and there's some disturbing imagery, especially when characters seemingly aim weapons at their own heads and shoot to perform special attacks. However, the fighting (with a variety of guns, swords, and daggers) is with fantastical creatures and looks fairly cartoonish. Parents should also be aware that this game isn't an entirely new game, but a repackaging of Persona 3 with additional features and a new standalone story that can be viewed as a continuation of the game.
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What's it about?
PERSONA 3: FES features not one but two complete games. Persona 3 in its entirety is present but enhanced with new quests, difficulty levels, and Personas. The main story follows an untitled boy who takes on the Shadows during a moment of time known as the Dark Hour. The Dark Hour comes but once a day, so during the other times your character must endure the daily ritual of a high school student, including down time where social interaction with fellow characters is not only encouraged, but rewarded with stronger attacks. The additional story takes place after the first is completed, but can be played at any time. In this adventure you assume the role of a character from the first who gains the ability to wield multiple Personas. This time around however, the game is almost purely a dungeon exploration game and much less emphasis is put on character interactions.
Even though the game features a party-based combat system, you only have control over the main character in each game, and the artificial intelligence takes over for the other party members. Different styles of play can be set for the party to offer support or all-out attacks. Enemy encounters are not random -- you can see each potential battle on the map before engaging the enemy, giving your character a strategic advantage and the opportunity to strike first. As with most RPGs, fighting increases your level, which leads to better weaponry and Personas to control.
Is it any good?
The sheer depth of Persona 3 is more than enough to satisfy rabid RPG players, and the enhancements made for this FES version make the title that much more appealing to those who missed the game on the first run. Yes, the addition of the entirely new game is an excellent bonus, but it's the outstanding storytelling and inter-personal interactions which make Persona 3 such a great title.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about average kids who discover extraordinary powers or links to fantasy worlds. How often does this theme appear in your favorite games? Books? Movies? What would you change about the fantasy world this character enters? There's much talk about life and death here. Do you think these kinds of deep discussions belong in games? Why or why not?
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