Benz Eye View: Persona 5

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Persona 5

Pros: 

1.) When it comes to video games (especially in JRPGs like Persona 5), making a narrative around this medium can be tricky.  The writers have to create a story out of the gameplay that is made for a certain type of game (i.e. shooters, RPGs, etc.).  In this case, the game’s narrative passes in flying colors.  Not only is the main plot engaging, but the many side stories (particularly in the confidants: the people that the main character hangs out with who have their own set of problems) have their own appeal.  All the characters (from the members of the Phantom Thieves to the confidants) have depth and appeal (with great English voice acting, though the Japanese voice actors playing high school teenagers sound a little old to me), and it helps that this 100-hour game makes you hang out with them for gameplay and story purposes, making you care for them more.  I can go more into how the symbolism and parallels in the game are well-thought out (like how the Palaces, the dungeons of the game, represent the Seven Deadly Sins), but that requires a more in-depth review, and someone who knows more than I do.  Instead, I will leave this video by Zamkusen to explain more about the symbolism in Persona 5 (another part of Persona 5 Symbolism is in his channel).  However, there are MAJOR SPOILERS in the video, so watch at your own risk, or just play the game first.

2.) This is by far one of the flashiest and stylistic presentations in video games I have ever seen.  When I played this game for the first time, I was awed and amazed on how the game delivers so many things that any typical game developer could have done with a simple presentation.  One good example is the pause screen:

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Look how amazing that looks!  A normal pause screen is just a darkened screen with a few texts to tell what you want to do.  In this game, the developers took a few steps further by making it stylish and alive, and each menu have different looks.  There is more where that came from.  If you manage to beat the Shadows (the common enemies in the game) with an All-Out Attack, you get a very stylish victory screen over the regular one when you the beat enemies normally.

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There are plenty more, but I will leave it to you to find out.  Also, the music is just awesome and entertaining.

There are much more like many of the imaginative character and environmental designs, but I am dragging out a bit too long, so let’s move on to the one thing that is important to a video game…

3.) …And that is the gameplay itself.  The gameplay consists of living a normal high school life while trying to increase your social stats (which that is important when you need to hang out with certain confidants) for the entire game year.  When it is time for the Phantom Thieves to invade the Palaces, the player has to reach to the end of the dungeon before the end of their deadline.  This is absolutely fun, because the game gives you a reason to complete these dungeons like leveling up (or if you do not finish them, it is an automatic game over).  The fighting mechanic is a basic turn-based battle in which the characters take turns in attacking each other or increase their battle stats temporarily.  As the game progresses, you will earn certain new moves (from new playable characters and confidants) that can help you get better in the game (although, I argue that a few of them are unnecessary like I never used Chihaya’s fortune-telling skills).  Despite not doing anything new, it is still fun to play, and it is enjoyable leveling up your characters and Personas while progressing through the story.

 

Cons: 

1.) The graphics are decent to make the game look tolerable, but I would not call it next-gen graphics.  In fact, they look like they belong to the PS3 (which there is a PS3 port alongside the PS4 version).  There are a couple big distractions in that department.  First, there are plenty of character pop-ins when the locations load in.  Couldn’t Atlus do a better job to prevent that from happening?  It is 2017 after all, and many AAA games do not have that problem.  Second, many of the background characters look bad compared to the major characters and Shadows.  Why do they look bad?  Not only do they look they are slightly melted, but they also do not have any eyes.

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Look at the main characters (right) and the NPCs (left).  They look like zombies compared to the Phantom Thieves.

That is very creepy.  I seen someone slightly defend this as it is considered symbolic.  I slightly understand, but it still does not excuse how ugly they look.

2.) It does get pretty annoying how the narrative takes control of the gameplay sometimes.  There many moments where I want to hang out with certain confidants or try some other activity, but the narrative gets in the way, and prevents me to do anything by forcing the main character to rest for the day.  I understand why they had to do that in a narrative standpoint, but it is restricting in a gameplay point-of-view.  It is slightly frustrating, and they slightly need to work on that.

3.) There are some odd localization moments in the game.  Meaning, there are some questionable English lines and pronunciations I find odd.  Other than a few times that some lines have pretty bad grammar, there are lines that seem a little weird in the context of the event.  One big example is when one of the characters is complaining that he is not good in English despite speaking English himself (if the game is played in the English dub).  The localization itself is not terrible, it is actually pretty good (there are few people who claim that the localization is terrible, but it was later pointed out by actual localization experts that it is fine).  It just needs a little more proofreading to make this top-notch.

 

Overall: 

It has been a while since I made a video game review.  The last one I made was in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Oh, what do you know?  The Phantom Pain vs. The Phantom Thieves.  How funny.), and that was less than two years ago.  I decided to do another game review, because why not?  The Persona series is a JRPG game series that began in Sept. 20, 1996 as part of a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series made by Atlus.  Since then, it became very popular (especially in Japan) that eventually spawned sequels and spin-offs.  I started getting into the Persona games when I played Persona 4 Arena: a fighting game with certain RPG elements.  From that game alone, I fell in love with the characters.  I managed to play Persona 3: FES and watched Persona 4: The Animation, and I appreciated the characters and story from each of them (although I have not played Persona 4: Golden since playing that game actually makes people spend more time with the story and characters in that game over a 25-episode anime).  Now we got the latest game of the series: Persona 5… and I enjoy almost every minute of this game.  I have played this game three times already (the second time just to get all the trophies, and the third time for the heck of it since I love these characters so much).  It is great for any newcomers to the series (you do not need to play the other Persona games to enjoy this one) and JRPGs in general.  The narrative is fantastic with clever symbolism and correlations, the characters are deep and compelling, the gameplay is fun and addicting, and the overall game is a blast to play.  There are a few errors here and there, but it is an enjoyable game nonetheless.  The Phantom Thieves have surely stolen my heart for this game, because it is the one game that will steal the hearts of many.

9/10

Oh, and for those who are wondering who did I pick as a romantic interest for my main character…

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Fear Makoto Niijima, the Post-Apocalyptic Raider, suckers!

Benz Eye View: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

You read it right, folks.  I am going to review a video game!  Yay!

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Pros:

The graphics (particularly, the FOX Engine) are beautiful.  The characters and environments look so life-like, it is amazing.  There are a few cracks here and there, but not enough to detract the gorgeous-looking world of Mother Base, Afghanistan, and Africa.

The gameplay is amazing as well.  There are numerous ways to complete missions like sneaking your way into the base, or fight your way into it.  You have numerous amounts of buddies (characters you like to bring into the field with you), guns, items, etc. to assist in these missions.  I barely use many the options I have, and I still want to experiment how to beat a mission.

Metal Gear Online is awesome.  It may a few maps and modes, but I did enjoy what I have.  Bounty Hunter is a typical team deathmatch, but you can fulton enemy members in order to keep your side’s team tickets increasingly better than your enemy’s.  Cloak and Dagger has one side trying to steal the other side’s data discs (this one is my favorite).  Comm Control has one side trying to download intel while the other side tries to stop them.  They are both fun as long as you have competent teammates (who can ruin the fun if they are not).

Cons:

While there are many great parts, the story feels incomplete.  There are many plot lines that are never resolved, making certain parts of the story confusing, especially when you link them to the rest of the Metal Gear Solid games.  In fact, I heard that one story-heavy mission and a third chapter was not included in the actual game (may end up as DLC, but highly unlikely due to Konami and Hideo Kojima’s current relationship).  In fact, the ending may end giving a very divisive reaction as it has a pretty good twist, but it is also a bit insulting and confusing.

There is so much to do in this game that it is probably too much.  The biggest thing to do is the side ops (or side missions), and there are so many of them.  However, it becomes repetitive when side ops are similar to the others.  Basically, the side ops can be kill a group of soldiers, capture a high-level soldier, save prisoners, destroy tank units, etc.  It gets a bit annoying when you need them to level up your character and Mother Base.

Speaking of Mother Base, it is your home base that you frequently go to for rest and relaxation.  Another function is to keep the soldiers’ morale in check.  However, there is nothing much to do in there.  It feel empty despite a few soldiers patrolling here or there.  You will eventually find another way to keep the soldier’s morale up without visiting Mother Base, so there is really not much point visiting anymore.

Overall:

Metal Gear Solid is my all-time favorite video game series (although, my favorite video game of all time is Star Fox 64).  I started becoming a fan of the series when I played Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on Nintendo Gamecube when Blockbuster was still popular.  Unable to play the games due to various reasons, I watch MGS2 to MGS4 online in order to follow the story since it is one of the biggest reasons why the series interests me.  It wasn’t until I own a PS3 and when Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection was released did I finally get to play the rest of the series myself (with the exception of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops since I do not own a PSP).  When Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was released, I was excited to play, but I was disappointed on how short it is.  Now, we have Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain; the game that fans have been waiting for in a long time…and it is amazing.  Hideo Kojima and his team (Kojima Productions) deserve all the credit in making this game.  I have spent a month playing this game, and it is one of the best games I have ever played.  The gameplay is great (although, there are a couple of things that do bother me about it), the story is well done (if not exactly my favorite of the Metal Gear franchise), and the graphics are beautiful (though I have seen some things that do need work in my PS4 copy).  I hope Hideo Koijma is proud of his work despite no longer working with Konami.  There are some flaws that are enough to not make this game a 10/10, but with all that it has, it is still remarkable that they managed to do all of this.  I hope Hideo Kojima does well, and I cannot tell you how much I recommend this game to anyone, especially to Metal Gear fans.

9/10

Well, this is fun.  What do you think of this video game review?  If you like it, let me know.  I do have an idea for another video game review.  Keep in mind of one thing, if I am going to do video game reviews, do not expect too much of it like my movie reviews.  I cannot afford many video games at this moment, they take much more time than movies, and I do have things to do in my life right now.  However, I am still willing.  I hope you enjoy my first attempt at reviewing a video game.  Thank you.