Second, like the first line alluded to, I'm fairly certain you've NEVER tried a "TALES Of" game.
Have you ever tried Star Ocean? Tales Of games are Star Ocean with FAR more anime.
They are possibly the greatest JRPG in terms of giving you character interactions. Not even Star Ocean gives you the same level of party chatter.
The combat is fine if you like Action RPG, but nothing stellar like people claim it is. It is chock full of "special moves" that are more boring to observe than an inert brick drying on the desert sands. "Cerberus Strike" is just 3 basic jabs, for instance. Star Ocean does this portion better, with the "Killer Moves" or whatever they've been renamed to as the franchise went on.
The stories are rarely ever worth writing home about. They are usually decent in terms of a JRPG, but nothing WOW.
Characters are...a grab bag. For every one good character in the game, you probably have 10 who will make you wish your heart would combust.