Xbox 360 Review: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

The Persona series enters the arena once more…

I missed out on the previous Arena-based Persona entry, I had hoped to see a true sequel to Persona 4 with its traditional RPG elements, but this fighting game that is a sequel to Persona 4 Arena takes place exactly a week after and mixes the story up for both newcomers and fans alike. I personally couldn’t follow the story that much since I didn’t play the past game, which will put off those new to the franchise. But how is it as a fighting game?
It has an impressive roster of characters from Persona 3 and 4, while having superb balancing between the fighters. The controls are also spot on, I was able to unleash combos with ease and I generally suck at fighting games. I still got my ass handed to me on several occasions, but it was no fault other than mine. There’s a pretty deep story mode, as well as standard Arena matches and there’s also the inclusion of online battles. I did come across some network issues during my time online, but that’s to be expected from a fighting game online.
New to Ultimax is the ability to choose “Shadow Types” for many of the game’s characters. These Shadow versions differ by being largely skill-based variants of their counterparts, employing a high-risk high-reward play style thanks to reduced normal attack damage and an altered move set with lacking defensive options. They also keep their SP over multiple rounds instead of resetting each time and possess an exclusive Shadow Rampage ability, which replaces the Burst command, giving the characters infinite SP for a limited time. It’s a nice addition and one that changes the gameplay immensely.

In terms of presentation, Ultimaxdoes have its ups and downs. Visually the cutscenes look great, but the actual game itself looks a little dated. I understand they are trying to capture a retro-look, but I was expecting something that looked slightly better than what I came across. Voice-acting is a mixed bag, but has more good lines than bad ones and the music is generally of a high quality.

The Verdict

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax may disappoint fans of the Persona series who long for a true sequel to the series, but it does provide a decent follow-up to the first Arena entry. It may add some new moves and an extended storyline, but it lacks polish in its presentation. Overall though, it’s a nice addition to the series, just not the one most were hoping for…