We had Persona 4 Arena for over a week and matches against Japanese players have been pretty smooth. We’re glad to report that online play for North America is just as good a BlazBlue. The bad news is it feels like the netcode flaws in the Xbox 360 version are in the North American release. In the few matches I played, there was slowdown in the beginning even when playing against players from the same region and with three bars or more. Atlus will release a patch to remedy these issues, but a date has not been announced.
While a bit barebones, Persona 4 Arena has all of the basics for online matchmaking. There are ranked matches for players who want to prove they’re the manliest Persona user and free play. Arc System Works added eight player lobbies too, but that’s about it for online play.
My favorite part of Persona 4 Arena is the story. Yeah, it treads familiar territory with the Midnight Arena, but Atlus gets a gold star for successfully bringing the cast of characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4 together. (OK, we’re not counting the female protagonist in Persona 3 Portable since she doesn’t exist.) The two groups essentially make two storylines for players to follow in Persona 4 Arena. There is a "fast" route at seeing the main plot, but I guess I shouldn’t spoil it. You don’t have to complete every single character, although Persona fans will probably want to do that. On top of getting into Yu’s mind, you’ll see events from Kanji’s sleepy eyes, understand Mitsuru’s insecurities, and read all of Teddie’s… flirtatious thoughts.
I think Elizabeth has a pretty interesting storyline too that kind of sits between everything happening in the game… If Persona 4 Arena seems slow in the beginning don’t give up until you see Labrys’ storyline.
Arc System Works designed Persona 4 Arena’s story mode to be a walk in the park. Most fights last for less than a minute and you’re back to reading the plot. Just for fun, I played Teddie’s story mode only using the canned combo and was able to clear it, losing only one fight during the playthrough. The challenge, for hardcore players, lies in score attack mode and versus mode. There are also some hidden voice navigators that I haven’t been able to unlock in Persona 4 Arena too. Atlus is also selling instant unlocks for these on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Store. Glasses, unfortunately, are paid DLC only. Oh well, I guess Teddie doesn’t need a Zorro mask to fight in the Midnight Arena.