Persona 4 was released by Atlus for the PS2 in 2008, while Persona 4 The Golden is a 2012 enhanced port of the same game for the Vita.
Persona 4 takes place in the town of Inaba, where you're sent to live with your uncle and niece for a year while your parents are away on business. The story starts with mysterious deaths, the midnight channel, and a power you accidentally discovered allowing you and your friends to enter the TV. The main storyline is almost completely fully voiced, or maybe it is fully voiced, with great voice acting. Each character in the game had a unique personality, which while going through the game you're frequently given multiple choices as to how you'd like to respond and the characters may like you more depending on your answer. The characters are all really endearing, with all of the playable characters and most NPCs very likable. The story is good and has multiple endings depending on your choices later in the game, which it will warn you before that point. You'll also have a limited amount of time between events, and while you have more than enough time to complete the game, you might not complete all social links before new game plus, even though possible. This also makes the games pacing a little rough, because you might be doing nothing but listening to and answering a question at the beginning of the day for the filler story during school, and then increasing social skills during the afternoon and evening for weeks.
Social links can be ignored if you choose, but they are available for the player to acquire a deeper relationship with major and minor characters in the game, unlocking extra storyline and gaining insight on the characters feelings. By completing these you'll add bonus experience when fusing Personas as well as bonus skills for the social link character if they're playable. Social skills are different statistics like courage, knowledge, etc, where a required level might be required to take jobs, talk to people at certain times, or even choose a certain response. It's not required, but having a high social link with multiple characters and fusing monsters will make dungeons much easier. You can increase social links and social skills by doing different jobs, different activities, and spending the day with the characters. Each day you have at most two different times to increase these statistics. so there's a lot of time management involved. There are also other activities that open up after certain points in the game that don't increase social skills but give you other benefits.
Every character that you acquire has their own Persona, while the main character is the only one who can have one of several. Combat takes place only in the tv world against shadows and plays out the same as Persona 3 or somewhat similar to the SMT press turn system. Each shadow as well as player has strengths, possible immunities, and weaknesses. Attacking a weakness or doing a critical hit will not only take more damage, but will knock the player or enemy down and allow the one who attacked to take another turn. This can keep on going until a downed opponent is attacked or a weakness or critical is not done on an opponent who isn't down. If all enemies are down then you're able to do a non elemental all out attack. Sometimes after knocking an enemy down, and a character has a social link high enough, they'll ask if they can do a follow up attack, which is non elemental and always a critical hit, except for Chie's which is an instant kill. There are other social link skills as well, like surviving a mortal attack, etc.
You'll start out with only one persona, but as you fight and win battles, getting a better chance when winning with an all out attack, you may have the chance to get shuffle time. Different than the PS2 version, on Persona 4 The Golden, the cards are all laid out with awards. You can only choose one card, but certain cards will allow you to choose between one and four more, although some of those will change a random card or give penalties like half experience. Sometimes there's no way to get all the cards, or to get the cards without getting penalty cards, but by getting all the cards you'd get a sweep, allowing next battle a guaranteed shuffle time with three choices at the start. When you can get cards that immediately level up your persona or skills, add permanent stat increases, acquire skill cards, restore HP/SP, increased exp or money, as well as acquire personas, then it's best to just take the pentalties if you have to.
When in the tv world, all dungeons are randomized. They'll have different backgrounds, different music, and some of the treasure boxes that require keys will rarely give some unique weapons or armor for that area, but the problem with them is that the dungeons all consist of around 10 small floors with each and every dungeon pretty much the exact same randomized layout. It's basically your average rogue like dungeon without all the unique items scattered around on the floor. Worse, there are the large amount of quests you receive requiring you to go back through the dungeons to acquire an item from a specific enemy which may be on the first few floors or might be on the last few floors. Those quests are only available after you first finish the dungeon and while you may have fought the enemy that you get the quest item from, the enemy won't drop that item until the quest is available.
Persona 4 is redone in widescreen with higher resolution, looking noticeably better in town. In dungeon and battles it looks a bit worse than the PS2 version. The game also has a great soundtrack, and while some songs in the soundtrack really didn't appeal to me at first, they quickly grew on me.
Persona 4 has some issues but it's a great game. Good gameplay, good story, and good character interaction. The game is developed to be quite a bit more story focused though. If you want a great JRPG I'd still recommend it, but I'd recommend Shin Megami Tensei 3, Shin Megami Tensei 4, and Digital Devil Saga over it for those who have the option.
Gameplay - 4
Design - 2
Presentation - 6
Balance - 4
Overall - 4
Just kidding. Will edit tomorrow to make it look normal. :P
Gameplay - 9
Design - 5
Presentation - 9
Balance - 8
Overall - 7.75