I first got into Role-Playing Games of the console variety (or RPGs to use a common term) back when I was a youngster, nary more than seven years old. Naturally with my amazing intellect I possess I delighted in the slow, strategic mechanics of a turn based battle system upon first inserting the disc of Final Fantasy VII. I will take this opportunity to promise a diatribe fulmination upon any unwitting readers who project their animosity towards this stalwart shining beacon of majesty amongst rotting carrion. As my tastes became more sophisticated over the years so did my desire for aberration, yet the genre as a whole remained intransigent in its reluctance to accommodate for evolution. The Final Fantasy series seemed to contain all innovation within the genus while all others seemed content to remain in their Dragon Quest IV era bubble of indifference.
Whilst wearing the blinders of my jaded view of the "modern" RPG, I neglected to become cognisant of another series creeping into the public view like the second coming of a paraplegic Christ; Shin Megami Tensei. Upon the recommendation of an acquaintance, I decided to look into this curious statuette in an otherwise humdrum series of endless Mickey Mouse models. Although the idea of a role playing game set in a modern Japanese high school, sounded about as appealing as a Burstrick Wake Boarding marathon, I decided to forego my prejudice and attempt this foul beast.
Despite an insipid and long-winded beginning, the game digs its mighty talons in through its unique blend of quirky gameplay and indecipherable Japanese pop/rap, and like a Fuck Buttons song the game's story becomes more and more interesting as it goes along until finally it culminates in an amazing ending. The game plays out like a mix between traditional dungeon crawling based level grinding, and dating sim-esque stat building, but due to the game's attractive presentation, and ability to provide interesting titbits of story for every 'dating' scenario, the mundane essence of the gameplay goes relatively unnoticed.
The voice acting is largely on par for what I have come to expect from video games of today, but comparing it with its kindred Star Ocean 3-esque spirit, one could consider it above average. Technically, the game's visuals cannot stand up to modern day Killzone giants, but the artistry manages to shine through and distract you from the Playstation 2's lack of mechanical sleight.
Although the game has likely been superseded by its successor (the aptly named Persona 4), relating to that probability an opinion I cannot give. As it stands, Persona 3 is a quirky, enjoyable, addictive RPG with an engaging story and a host of likeable characters (and some not-so-likeable ones). One can accuse it of many shortcomings (the 'main character dies = party dies' mentality being at the foremost of these criticisms, although one can argue that this is thematically appropriate), however in this case the positives far outweigh any frustrations experienced relating to developer-based oversights. The more you play this game the more you realise the fundamental genius of it. It's too unique, too quirky, and too addictive to be anything but.