So I took down the final true boss and beat the game.
First things first, the ability to control all your teammates instantly made the game 10x more enjoyable.
Instead of your fucking dipshit teammates doing the wrong moves over and over it's now entirely your fault if you choose the wrong thing to do.
In battle the focus of the game has shifted away from MC hacks.
You can no longer equip all weapons in the game.
Because of the free heals in P3, running Tartarus generally became the MC one more turning every single encounter while his teammates had no turns.
Boss fights generally became the MC healing everyone and hoping they wouldn't screw up.
P4's change of making SP precious and no free healing or teleports changed this.
The scarcity of SP and the fact there were no teleports meant the MC could not happily blow through all his SP one more turning entire encounters.
In addition, to counteract the fact you can now control your entire party, P4 threw mixed enemy teams at you a LOT.
This happened rarely in P3.
These enemy teams weren't just randomly grouped either, they would have abilities that helped each other.
For example a group of four reflect physical beetles and a single mage that could cast mass berserk on your party, thus having you kill yourself.
Using your teammates to their fullest effect was required to get through a dungeon in halfway decent shape.
The difficulty felt greatly improved/increased, I did not feel it was a P3 FES hard mode "bullshit difficulty" but rather a "real difficulty."
They gave you quite a lot of options to avoid bullshit OHKOs from light/death/random critical hits.
In terms of characters...
Hm this is a hard one.
In Persona 3, I didn't really have a clear favorite, and eventually came to like them all.
Except for Ken.
Poor Ken hahaha.
In Persona 4, there was a clear favorite from the get-go, so while I was completely veering toward that one character I probably have given the others less thought.
That character for me was Yukiko.
Yamato Nadesico except with a lot of quirks and a mean streak along with great deadpan lines.
I admit because I was too busy fawning over her I probably don't appreciate the others as much as I could have.
I do find Yousuke awesome though, better than Junpei.
Chie is a great character, but a lot of it lies in her chemistry with Yousuke and Yukiko, not exactly in herself.
I find Kanji personally hilarious from his initial shadow self to his ability to make stuffed animals.
Rise is...:V She's ok when she talks normally, but the second she becomes happy or in battle you get that high-pitched Kugumiya Rie whine that completely annoys me.
Naoto is...a wasted oppurtunity, I feel.
Quite an interesting backstory and such but you get her so late in the game, and unlike say your earlier characters who do show some personality change she remains the same.
One could argue that's what her commu is for but meh.
Story is a lot smaller in scale I feel, but I think that reflects the focus this time around on Japanese mythology/Shintoism/country backwater (lol).
I'm still trying to figure out why the criminal acted the way he did though...to the point of even going back over the scenes with a dictionary.
Like was it just ennui?
Come on here...
Maybe you can argue some philosophical bullshit angle like path of Zen or something, I don't know.