Poll: Persona 3 or Persona 4?

lowtech redneck

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If you absolutely MUST play only one game, then play P4, the ability to control your party members alone makes it a better game. But seriously, if at all possible, play both games, in order.....its, like, a moral imperative!
 

ScrabbitRabbit

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I'm surprised at how many people are saying P4 is easier. I found it much, much harder than Persona 3. I actually had more trouble with Persona 4 than SMT: Nocturne!

Personally, I like P3 better because I can relate to it a bit more strongly and the final act is just a thing of absolute beauty. But P4 is better paced (though they both start out slow and both have some odd writing quirks in the beginning) and improves the combat a bit and has more varied dungeon designs, so it is an overall more well put-together game.

P3 has a way better soundtrack, though. I had to mute P4 in the dungeons eventually because of that fucking battle theme.
 

lowtech redneck

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ScrabbitRabbit said:
I'm surprised at how many people are saying P4 is easier. I found it much, much harder than Persona 3. I actually had more trouble with Persona 4 than SMT: Nocturne!
For me, computer-controlled allies added a bit of artificial difficulty to P3 FES.

Thanks for reminding me that I have an un-played copy of Nocturne buried somewhere in my bedroom, I had completely forgotten about it! I think I'll go look for that now....
 

Drathnoxis

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The goal of Persona 3 is to climb a tower consisting of 265 floors. Two hundred and sixty five bloody randomly generated floors. It is the very definition of a slog. And it's all randomly generated in the blandest way possible, the way that makes every floor feel identical. Also, even going at a decent pace it'll still take about 30-60 minutes to climb 10 floors. Also, Also, if you get insta-killed by one of the many monsters that know cheap attacks you get to do it all over again from your last save. If that doesn't make your decision for you, I don't know what will.

Also, the ending kind of ruined the rest of the game for me.

Pretty much Persona 4 is better in every possible way.
 

Solbasa

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Between the two, I persona-lly (ha) preferred Persona 4 over Persona 3, but then I played Portable and Golden, rather than FES or the original versions. I know P3FES has "The Answer", that playable epilogue, but it also takes away the ability to control your party members that was added in P4 and P3P that made the battles a lot less frustrating.

When it comes down to it, besides their similar mechanics and premises, the two are very different games. Persona 3 centers around the themes of coping with tragedy and loss, whereas Persona 4 focuses more on how to find the truth, and what it means for something to really be true. Persona 3 has a remarkably emotional storyline, at parts, with ideas inspired heavily by previous Shin Megami Tensei games, such as the importance of the phases of the moon, and the emergence of mythical monsters in the real world. Meanwhile, Persona 4 has a much more surreal story, at its core being a creative take on the classic murder mystery plot, and unique variations of ideas presented in Persona 3 and elsewhere in the larger franchise, such as replacing the cycle based on the phases of the moon with one based on the changing weather and the divide between the place where the monsters appear and the world we live in day-to-day. Less emotional than Persona 3, and much more unconventional, but still fascinating, and in my opinion marginally superior to Persona 3.

Both are great games, though, and well worth whatever time you have to devote to them. I don't have a definitive recommendation, but this quick analysis is what I can give, so hopefully it will be helpful to you in some way (and anyone else trying to decide).
 

Danny Royer

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The primary reason to play a Persona game (for me) is for the story and the characters. Chances are you'll like one game's story over the other due to personal taste rather than one being objectively better than the other.

Persona 3's story is pretty standard supernatural mystery stuff with a huge devotion to character interaction and character development. The overall theme of Persona 3 is Death and how we each deal with our mortality. There's only one major character (Fuuka) who doesn't have a person she knows more than a couple of months die in her back story or during the game.

Persona 4's story is a murder-mystery with supernatural elements. The overarching theme is to reach out to the truth, to face your problems, not be tempted by comforting lies and this theme mixes beautifully in both the main story and the characters you interact with. There are a couple of times where the main characters are presented with a red herring that make sense, but don't answer all of the questions aka a comforting lie. The characters you interact with also deal with facing how they really feel and the difference between who they really are and who they act like. The biggest cliche the game uses for that theme is the character who acts like a jerk to cover the fact that he/she is really just a big softie inside.

My personal favorite should be obvious given the length of those two paragraphs so yeah have some fun.
 

Fulbert

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Danny Royer said:
The primary reason to play a Persona game (for me) is for the story and the characters. Chances are you'll like one game's story over the other due to personal taste rather than one being objectively better than the other.

Persona 3's story is pretty standard supernatural mystery stuff with a huge devotion to character interaction and character development. The overall theme of Persona 3 is Death and how we each deal with our mortality. There's only one major character (Fuuka) who doesn't have a person she knows more than a couple of months die in her back story or during the game.

Persona 4's story is a murder-mystery with supernatural elements. The overarching theme is to reach out to the truth, to face your problems, not be tempted by comforting lies and this theme mixes beautifully in both the main story and the characters you interact with. There are a couple of times where the main characters are presented with a red herring that make sense, but don't answer all of the questions aka a comforting lie. The characters you interact with also deal with facing how they really feel and the difference between who they really are and who they act like. The biggest cliche the game uses for that theme is the character who acts like a jerk to cover the fact that he/she is really just a big softie inside.

My personal favorite should be obvious given the length of those two paragraphs so yeah have some fun.
A nice summary of the plots. Personally, I prefer the P4 plot, since the premise seems a bit more believable
P4's "A city boy gets transferred to a rural school and forms a Scooby-Doo squad to try and solve a great mystery with the power of friendship"
vs P3's "An orphan emo-kid gets transferred to a hoity-toity school in the middle of an artificial island and is quickly admitted to a schoolkids' ghostbusters club located in a dorm that looks like an expensive hotel"
P3 is lauded for its darker atmosphere and style, and I can definitely see the appeal. But P4 is a nice detective story and in a more relatable setting.

OP, I think you should probably go with the P4 first. IMO, it's a better game of the two, but not so much better that you will resent P3 if you choose to play it afterwards. Both games boast wonderful stories and relatable characters, unique atmospheres and interesting philosophies. But P4 has improved dungeon-crawling mechanics, the dungeons themselves are more interesting visually and thematically. It's not that dungeon crawling is really enjoyable in either of the games, but it's less of a chore in P4.
But other than that, it's the matter of taste. If you prefer upbeat Scooby-Doo mystery-solving stories set in rural towns, the go with P4. If you'd rather play a darker game with conspiracies and emo-kids shooting themselves in the head, then P3 is for you:)
 

Adaephon

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Persona 3 definitely. Don't get me wrong, 4 is great but the story and the characters (except for Chie, she is just such a great character overall) are just such steps down from 3. Just compare junpei to yosuke for this I mean yeah bro-suke is cool and kinda funny but junpei was funnier and had an actual emotional arc that he went through. Also the plot for 4 really, REALLLY holds your hand and baby-steps you through the whole thing. Not that 3 didn't do that too but at least it was more believable (as in it made plot-sense for the characters in 3 to not understand some stuff whereas in 4 everyone was just too stupid to make obvious connections that encyclopedia brown could have made) and it didn't do it to as great an extent. But controlling your party members in 4 was an improvement over watching mitsuru casting ice break every damn turn.

P4 is good though, it's just not quite as good, think of P3 as a 10.0 and P4 as a 9.8, they are both worth playing.
 

Tanis

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P3:FES has FAR better social links, main cast, and overall themes.

P4 has a better, overall, story and game play...plus little more fleshed out main cast.

I love both games, but I always end up playing Revelations: Persona due to pure nostalgia factor.
 

lapan

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remnant_phoenix said:
I know what P3 Portable on PSP or P4 Golden on Vita may be the best respective versions, but I'm not going to spend the money I'd need to invest to access those versions.
I wouldn't call P3P the best version, it's missing both the extra scenario from FES and any kind of animation or cutscenes thanks to the PSP's limitations.

Personally i preferred the characters of P3, but the pacing is a lot worse than P4
 

theevilgenius60

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They're both top notch games, and you should eventually play them both(its the Megaten way, can't play only one). If I had to choose, it'd be Persona 4. Full party control, party skill choice(what they keep and what they lose), better social links(IMHO) and an ending that, compared to any other Megaten, will leave you grinning like the Cheshire Cat(especially the Golden ending on Vita). For part 3? Aegis(the best thing ever), a more realistic group(your party, not friends for the most part), a slightly better soundtrack(both are great though, Shoji Meguru is masterful), and the story's a bit more upfront about its darkness(what with the coffins, blood, evokers and all). Can't go wrong with either, really. Hell, I just got a buddy of mine who's usually a shooter only guy playing P4. Even he loves it.
 

Sleepy Sol

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I think I'm more into P3's general tone and characters, but I love them both.

I did end up playing P4 first back in 2009, but did get essentially the optimal P3 experience (minus The Answer but it's apparently meh) with P3P.

So maybe my view isn't exactly fair, but I'll take P3.
 

Windcaler

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Its hard for me to recomend one over the other. Persona 3 has IMO the better story hands down. However Persona 4 has the better gameplay and a more involved world. Both games are very very good but both games are also different. I think the question to ask yourself is do you want a stronger and more interesting narrative or do you want better gameplay. If the former then I think P3 is the better game. If the latter I think P4 is the better game.
 

joest01

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Do they have P4 on the PS3 now? That sounds pretty cool tbh.

Overall I think the main draw to the series is to build kick ass personas, right? And how those look, the battle animations, the design of the dungeons etc does factor into how enjoyable the experience is. From that point of view there really is no contest. It's P4 all the way.

Now, from a end game perspective I guess it comes down to the old Margaret vs Elizabeth question. Imho even if you take E over M, it cannot make up for the overall improved experience of P4. Plus, in P4g you also get to fight Marie :)
 

Kingjackl

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Drathnoxis said:
The goal of Persona 3 is to climb a tower consisting of 265 floors. Two hundred and sixty five bloody randomly generated floors. It is the very definition of a slog. And it's all randomly generated in the blandest way possible, the way that makes every floor feel identical. Also, even going at a decent pace it'll still take about 30-60 minutes to climb 10 floors. Also, Also, if you get insta-killed by one of the many monsters that know cheap attacks you get to do it all over again from your last save. If that doesn't make your decision for you, I don't know what will.
I think that description makes the dungeon crawling in Persona 3 sound a lot worse than it actually is. It doesn't feel like you're climbing a 265 floor tower when you're playing the game, it just feels like you're fighting through a dungeon. The tower is divided into segments and there are teleporters roughly every 15 floors that take you to and from the lobby to save and heal. In practice, it's really not that much different from Persona 4. There are more floors per section, but you also go through them quicker since the floors are more open-ended. You also explore Tartarus in the evening as opposed to after school, so you'll end up making more trips on average and progress at a faster rate.

Also, the risk of loosing all your progress to an unlucky death is an issue in P4 as well. It wasn't until Golden that they added checkpoints for each floor, and even those don't auto-save the game.
 

Artina89

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While both games are very good, easily among the best games out there, I would choose Persona 4 over Persona 3, (even though it is a very VERY close run thing). I just prefer the characters in Persona 4, as Junpei had a tendency to piss me off in Persona 3, but you really can't go wrong with whatever game you eventually go for.
 

Drathnoxis

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Kingjackl said:
I think that description makes the dungeon crawling in Persona 3 sound a lot worse than it actually is. It doesn't feel like you're climbing a 265 floor tower when you're playing the game, it just feels like you're fighting through a dungeon. The tower is divided into segments and there are teleporters roughly every 15 floors that take you to and from the lobby to save and heal. In practice, it's really not that much different from Persona 4. There are more floors per section, but you also go through them quicker since the floors are more open-ended. You also explore Tartarus in the evening as opposed to after school, so you'll end up making more trips on average and progress at a faster rate.

Also, the risk of loosing all your progress to an unlucky death is an issue in P4 as well. It wasn't until Golden that they added checkpoints for each floor, and even those don't auto-save the game.
The big difference between the games for me is that Tartarus is largely irrelevant for the majority of Persona 3. You could literally ignore the tower until it's time for the final boss (well, if you don't mind being severely underleveled.) There isn't much in it except random monsters, some bigger monsters that are the same as the random ones, and once in a while the color scheme changes.

Persona 4 dungeons, on the other hand, were all related to the immediate story, were visually varied in a way that tied them to the story and characters, and (most important of all) were short. There were 8 dungeons in P4 with a total of 77 floors, that's about 1/3 of Tartarus with more differentiating them than a pallet swapping of colours.

Granted the mini story dungeons in Persona 3 were okay, but they were barely a blip compared to the monstrosity of Tartarus.

Tartarus could have worked if they cut the amount of floors in half and made ANY attempt to make it anything but a generic dungeon. It would have been all too easy to give the scenery some story significance in any way. I'm trying to avoid spoilers so I can't be too specific, but suffice it to say that I was intrigued by the idea of Tartarus, which looks really cool in cutscenes, and was really eager to get in there to explore. That is, until I got in and realized there wasn't actually anything to Tartarus but random floors filled with the same 20 (EDIT: 36) enemies.

And yes, the cheap deaths still exist in P4, but it just seems that there were way more enemies in P3 that would come and target my weakness and stunlock me to death.
 

Kingjackl

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Drathnoxis said:
Kingjackl said:
I think that description makes the dungeon crawling in Persona 3 sound a lot worse than it actually is. It doesn't feel like you're climbing a 265 floor tower when you're playing the game, it just feels like you're fighting through a dungeon. The tower is divided into segments and there are teleporters roughly every 15 floors that take you to and from the lobby to save and heal. In practice, it's really not that much different from Persona 4. There are more floors per section, but you also go through them quicker since the floors are more open-ended. You also explore Tartarus in the evening as opposed to after school, so you'll end up making more trips on average and progress at a faster rate.

Also, the risk of loosing all your progress to an unlucky death is an issue in P4 as well. It wasn't until Golden that they added checkpoints for each floor, and even those don't auto-save the game.
The big difference between the games for me is that Tartarus is largely irrelevant for the majority of Persona 3. You could literally ignore the tower until it's time for the final boss (well, if you don't mind being severely underleveled.) There isn't much in it except random monsters, some bigger monsters that are the same as the random ones, and once in a while the color scheme changes.

Persona 4 dungeons, on the other hand, were all related to the immediate story, were visually varied in a way that tied them to the story and characters, and (most important of all) were short. There were 8 dungeons in P4 with a total of 77 floors, that's about 1/3 of Tartarus with more differentiating them than a pallet swapping of colours.

Granted the mini story dungeons in Persona 3 were okay, but they were barely a blip compared to the monstrosity of Tartarus.

Tartarus could have worked if they cut the amount of floors in half and made ANY attempt to make it anything but a generic dungeon. It would have been all too easy to give the scenery some story significance in any way. I'm trying to avoid spoilers so I can't be too specific, but suffice it to say that I was intrigued by the idea of Tartarus, which looks really cool in cutscenes, and was really eager to get in there to explore. That is, until I got in and realized there wasn't actually anything to Tartarus but random floors filled with the same 20 enemies.

And yes, the cheap deaths still exist in P4, but it just seems that there were way more enemies in P3 that would come and target my weakness and stunlock me to death.
Don't get me wrong, Persona 4 is definitely an improvement. The reason I'm defending Tartarus (and Persona 3 in general) is because it came first and set the template for the Midnight Channel. It's why I argued that people should play 3 before they play 4; 4 has better dungeons, better gameplay and better social links, but that's because it had all the groundwork laid by 3 to build on. To get the full experience, I would advise playing 3 first, because you'll get a great game, and you'll enjoy 4 a lot more from having the comparison.

I agree that Tartarus suffers from a case of quantity over quality, but I think it fits into the story just as well as Persona 4 did. For most of the game, it's essentially a training ground that provides a way to level up for the full moon bosses without having to grind. The general rule is that if you can make it to the highest point within a given month, you're ready for the boss fight. Plus, taken as a whole, the game literally could not happen without Tartarus. It has a crucial role in the story that ties in naturally with the dungeon crawling gameplay.

You had a lot more freedom with Tartarus than you had with the Persona 4 dungeons; it didn't take up after school time so it didn't interfere with the majority of your social links, and you can move through the floors a lot quicker thanks to the less restricted layout of each floor and being able to split the party. Plus, there are no annoying gimmick floors like the ones in Void Quest or Striptease. It also didn't cost a fortune to heal, either.

Finally, getting back to the subject of getting killed, I think we can all agree that what these games really need is for them to not game-over you when the player character goes down. Just let us revive them with the other team members, that's what healers are for.
 

Danbo Jambo

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I've not played P4 so my opinion may not be the best when it comes to choice. I will say though that I found P3 VERY tiresome. It's not a bad game, and i actually like the combat (personally I think having to plan based around other's actions is a novel approach), but it just didn't get going at all.

Having played around the 25-30 hours mark it hardly felt as if the story had got going at all, and personally I found the social link thing dull.

May just be my taste in games, and maybe it's just not for me, but I'm a big JRPG fan and, being in a similar situation where time for gaming is sparse, I'd say P3 may require too much dedication for you to appreciate it. That was the case with me, and after the 3rd moon I had to give up unfortunately.

P3 has superb battle music though.