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Persona 3 FES: combat

Persona 3 FES wallpaper
(Image source: Atlus.)

Persona 3 FES‘s combat is a curious blend of real-time and turn-based systems.

You explore Tartarus, the ominous tower you ascend level-by-level, in real-time. Shadows, the foes of the game, slither around the levels and combat begins when you hit them or they hit you. Getting the first hit in (ideally a sneak attack) is important and avoiding being hit first is often essential. Reflexes, timing and positioning are thus vital.

On the other hand, reflexes, timing and positioning are of absolutely no importance when the game shifts to the turn-based battle system which actually resolves the combat encounters.

Here the emphasis is on determining and exploiting enemy weaknesses. Analysing an opponent for weaknesses is simply a matter of hitting the L1 button. If the opponent was previously analysed, the data is made available immediately. If not, it will be available shortly.

Exploiting an opponent’s weakness by using an attack it’s susceptible to knocks it down and gives you another turn. If you know the opponents’ weaknesses and you have the first-strike advantage, victory is there for the taking as you knock down foes one by one, taking one bonus turn after another.

When all foes are knocked down, you have the option of an All-Out Attack, a bonus attack involving every party member. This usually deals out massive damage to every opponent.

With experience, victories will often come without taking any damage in return. This is where the game might feel a little imbalanced as players breeze through combat encounters.

Cockiness would be a mistake, however, as foes might exploit the party’s weaknesses and the epithets will fly when the player falls victim to a first round, one-hit Game Over attack.

(I shake my fist at thee, Intrepid Knight.)

Still, all told, combat is a little unsatisfying due to the simple tactics involved. The real depth in the game lies elsewhere.

Posted in Games, Persona 3, PS2.


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