Interaction is a broad area that we define as gameplay aspects excluding the battle system. This could be how the game handles, extra features in-game, user interface, and interactive aspects that don't directly involve combat. Here are our picks for games with the Best Interaction for 2008.
If you don't know how much RPGamer loved last year's Persona 3, you need only look at our review archives. The highlight of Persona 3 for most players was the social links, a brilliant method of working story and character development into the game's battle mechanics. This year, Persona 4 took what its predecessor did and made it even better. With a social link for each and every main character in addition to several ancillary characters, the combination of social links and attribute upgrades, and even, in some cases, the ability to earn money in the process, the social links of Persona 4 simply blow Persona 3's out of the water — and Persona 3's were fantastic!
Even though it has a terrific combat system, Persona 4 is one of the few RPGs that people play for the non-combat experience, and it delivers in spades. If that weren't enough, Persona 4 also features one of the best localizations Atlus, or anyone, for that matter, has ever produced. Despite the daunting task of rewriting an enormous game that takes place in Japan into English, Atlus succeeded with flying colors. All these things combined make Persona 4 our pick for the best interaction of 2009.
Fallout 3 may be a little unwieldy as a shooter, but its interface shines in every other way. Instead of forgetting about the Fallout series' turn-based combat roots, Bethesda created V.A.T.S. and perfectly melded turn-based gameplay with a first/third-person game. Players have multitudes of different ways to build up their characters using S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and Perks. Player choice has never been so much at the forefront as it is throughout Fallout 3, allowing players to truly play any type of character they wish with equal rewards on both ends. The Pip-Boy puts everything that players need within one simple menu. With all of the containers and dead bodies to search and loot in Fallout 3, it is good that the interface allowed these actions to be performed quickly as well.
The World Ends With You received a lot of deserved praise for its unique combat system, modern Japanese setting, and unusual story premise. However, the interaction with the game world also brings an array of fresh ideas to the table. For example, instead of conversing with NPCs, the protagonist reads their minds through use of one of his pins. This simple mechanic immediately adds depth to the world not normally found in most RPGs. The gamer also engages enemies through this system, choosing how many enemy groups to engage at a time, and eliminating random battles. TWEWY does not stop there, with a unique, deep fashion system, bonus experience for taking a break from the game, an eating/growth system, and a variety of puzzles and quizzes needed to pass certain areas. Incredibly enough, these new mechanics work extremely well together, breathing new life into the venerable JRPG genre.
by Tom Goldman, Adriaan den Ouden, Phillip Willis, Michael Cunningham