Review by WolfsRainer
"Finally, the Tales of series has a chance of running with the big shots"
Well, this is my first review, so things may seem a little rough, but here's to it! Anyway on to the review. Also, if you want to remain completely spoiler free, you'll probably want to avoid the plot section of this.
The graphics, for me at least, are the least important part of any game. As long as the graphics don't slow down the gameplay in anyway, I could look past them in a heartbeat if they were mediocre. Luckily, that isn't the case for this game. The graphics actually add to the enjoyability of the gameplay. In case this is your first time hearing about this game, and haven't looked at any screen shots, I'll describe the incredible style of this game's graphics to you. If you've ever played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, or Jet Set Radio you'll have a pretty good idea of what this game looks like. The cel-shaded look of this game fits it perfectly, and really sets it apart from all of the other RPGs out there. Some of the effects truly are amazing, and anyone who doesn't think so is quite ignorant. However, nothing is perfect and the overworld in this game is a prime example of that. It looks like it was ripped from any PS1 Final Fantasy game, and stuck in here because the developers were too lazy to add a few graphical whistles and bells. Some of the "explosions" that take place on the map even seem to go back to the 16-32 bit era! It's really a shame that the developers didn't feel to add more polish to the overworld. If we pretend that they did for a second, this game would by far be the most graphically impressive RPG of this generation.
The plot in this game is a little awkward, in that it seems to copy FFX for the first 1/5, while the other 4/5 go with a somewhat different approach. It's similar to FFX because in that disappointing 1/5, there's a Chosen (Colette, Yuna) who is on a journey to save the world by going to different elemental seals, and under going challenges there to gain more angelic powers. Naturally, she is protected by guardians to aid her in this quest. After one event in the game though, that quest is abandoned for a different one, and in the sake of not giving anything away, you gain a whole bunch of enemies. You also find out that Sylvarant isn't the only world in your universe, and another one called Tethe'alla exists as well. That's all your going to get out of me, play the game to find out the rest for yourself! Thankfully, there are many backstabs, twists, and numerous other plot devices to keep the story fresh all the way to the end at about 60hrs(add another 10 or so for side quests). The character development is top notch, and only one character really grated on my nerves by the end of the game. Overall this is a story that surpasses a lot of the other RPGs on the market, and you'll remember Lloyd and Colette's journey long after you watch the credits.
The sound is one of the most important aspects of any game. It adds atmosphere, emotion, and intensity to all the scenes, fights, and everything in between in a game. This game doesn't disappoint in this department. 99% of the songs are memorable, and after extended play sessions, just try getting to sleep. It's probably just me but the songs will keep playing over, and over, and over again while you try to get to sleep. Most of the music is techno, but nevertheless, it captures the mood of the game. It wouldn't have hurt to have a little more orchestral songs to vary the score up, but it doesn't disappoint. The sound effects get a little old after a while, but not enough to ever really bother you.
Control is another huge part of the game that is executed vary well in this particular game. As you might imagine, in an action RPG such as this one, the battle system is made or broken based on the controls. Luckily, this game is superb in this department. You map all of your moves onto different B button + control stick configurations, or to either up or down on the C stick. The A button is to attack normally, and the X button guards against hostile attacks. After playing the game for a while, your fingers will move to the correct buttons like any good game should, and it will seem that your controller has dissolved.
This game, in my mind, blows away every other RPG on the market. The battle system is reminiscent of a 2D fighting game on three different lines of attacking. For example, you lock on to one enemy in a fight. After you kill him, lets say that there are two bad guys left now, on line X and one on line Y. Depending on which one you'd like to go for next, you travel on either line X or line Y to fight him/her. That may seem kind of clunky and cumbersome, but I assure you that it's not. Every battle is resolved quickly and the controls, as aforementioned, are perfect for winning the battles. Other than that, every dungeon has a large puzzle to solve. Don't cast these aside as little things that are accomplished easily however, several of them really make you think in ways your mind normally isn't used to. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these, and hopefully you will too.
Overall, this game is brilliant in everything it does. It also really helps (besides the battle system) to go back to the arguably better age of RPGs, world maps and all. The story is great, music, and gameplay. The only thing holding you back from buying this should be the amount of cash in your pocket. My score of this game based on the several categories is a 9.2, giving this great game a solid 9.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/05/04
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