Review by doctorofwho
"Tales of the Abyss 3DS: A must for JRPG fans"
Tales of the Abyss 3DS is a port of one of the finest Japanese RPGs from the PS2 era, developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Namco Bandai. This is also the first time Europe has gotten the game since the original was only released in Japan and America.
Tales is a series which has garnered a niche following overseas but also has one of the highest production values for a niche game which makes it a difficult game to make a profit from but even while Namco has seemingly given up on the series at several points during the series' history, they always come back with some new games which they will released in the west.
Tales of the Abyss 3DS is a standard JRPG in that you'll be playing this for 40+ hours with the main story, side quests and all the other extras that people have come to expect from this series however if you are American or imported the game from America then don't expect any real changes as it's just a straight port with a few differences which I'll get to later.
The story is you're usual save the world story line and while some can argue for or against the story, it is the character development which drives the storyline and Tales of titles are particularly famous for their character driven stories.
In Tales of the Abyss you start off as Luke Fon Fabre, son of the Duke and Duchess of Baticul but through chance, you end up in a forest with Tear and have to find your way back to Baticul. Tales of the Abyss is very character driven and features some of the best character development, particularly with the main character that I've seen in a game.
Graphically, the game hasn't changed much from it's PS2 debut but it has been updated enough to look good on the 3DS. It is an anime styled game but even if you don't like anime but you enjoy Japanese RPGs then you should be able to look past the anime style graphics otherwise you would be missing out on a great game.
The game features Karma by Bump of Chicken as the opening theme and it is the same as the American one which means no lyrics and instead there is an extra guitar in place of where the lyrics would be in the song. The game features a well done OST with plenty of music which is enjoyable to listen to throughout the game. The games soundtrack was composed mostly by Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura but a few songs were composed by Motoo Fujiwara.
The game features a variety of different gameplay elements, in battle you have your artes which are your battle skills and you have your normal attacks. You also have something called Field of Fonons which is created when someone uses an elemental attack and it creates a circle on the ground which changes certain attacks that you use when you are in the circle to an attack of that element. The battle system is also real time based and not turn based so if you're expecting something similar to Final Fantasy then think again.
You also have skills which are not the same as artes, these skills once learned can be used in battle. This was also the first time free run (which many who played it will remember from Tales of Vesperia) was in the series and it is a skill itself. Once you learn it, you can use it in battle and free run around the field rather than be stuck in a left or right direction which you are until you learn it.
The differences between the PS2 and 3DS versions aren't much, for example the skits are still unvoiced as it would have cost a bit to get all the voice actors back and voice all the skits since they aren't voiced in the original.
In battle you now have the bottom screen at your disposal and can put artes from either yourself or others to use in battle at the touch of the screen which can be useful especially when you start learning about Field of Fonons. The bottom screen can also be used now to open the menu and it displays other menu information on the bottom screen.
The 3D effect is subtle but also well done, especially when you see the text boxes and on the title screen itself. There is no real slowdown from what I could gather and the loading times which was the biggest complaint of the PS2 versions are much better so if you wanted to replay Tales of the Abyss but don't want to deal with the loading times, if you have a 3DS then this is the answer to your problems.
In short, if you are a Japanese RPG fan and live in Europe then this is a must own title. If you live in America and haven't played it or don't wish to deal with the loading times on the PS2 version then I would again recommend this title to you.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/11
Game Release: Tales of the Abyss (EU, 11/25/11)
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