Review by SiegTheKnight
"A Tale to end all Tales"
September 30, 1998, Tales of Rebirth, voted one of PS best in Japan, was released in North America. September 10, 2001, Tales of Rebirth 2, otherwise known as Tales of Eternia hit our shores.
And now, in the year 2004, when all Gamecube owners had lost all hope. When a good RPG seemed nothing more than a dream, a light appeared in the sky. It's Lost Kingdoms! Its YuGiOh! No, its Tales of Symphonia, king of all Gamecube RPGs!
With cute bubbly characters, Tales of Symphonia seems to be some small child's game. The characters are small and colorful, and each one is totally huggable! The graphics give a light tone to the game, all seems happy and joyful. Don't be fooled however, these people have some serious attitude! The attacks are flashy, and the characters are animated and lively, a well deserved 10. But TOS has a few graphical setbacks, The most noticeable is the constant blurring effect. Most of the cutscenes have blurred characters and backrounds, some more noticeable than others.
During the first five minutes in the game, most people can sum TOS's story in one word: cliché. Many elements are straight from other games, mostly Final Fantasy 10. A chosen one sent out with her guardians to travel to different temples around the globe, trying to stop an ancient evil. Several annoying plot twists later, lesser folk will find themselves barfing due to storycompletlysuckandislameickosis. However, if you can stand the grueling plot, or avoid puking on your Gamecube (thus game over), you will find a magnificent story of friendship, betrayal, and romance. The plot does a 360, and fortunately turns out to be for the best. The plot is deep, and a new surprise around every turn. It also teaches important lessons, mostly about racism and discrimination,
The sound complements the graphics, it is high scale and upbeat. The music seems like it came off a dance soundtrack, and trust me, YOU WILL DANCE. The voiceovers are nice too, but a few key events are surprisingly silent. None of the voices are terribly bad .well .some are but they turn out to be so bad they are actually funny and entertaining.
What is there to say? The control is good, at first you will be panicking, not knowing why the character is going backwards and shooting fireballs of doom. Then you will realize you are holding the controller upside down, and the totally forget about the control. It is smooth and easy to learn. The battles are a bit trickier, but still easy to learn
FYI, the 10 means the difficulty is just right, not terribly insanely hard. The bosses are challenging, but as long as you are not underleveled you should pull through. Some bosses are hard as hell, as technically impossible without: a friend playing co-op, mental guidance, or a game hacking device. Fortunately, these guys are optional, and can be defeated with a little time and LOTS of preparation.
Camera 2/10 (in other words it sucks!)
This normally isn't a section, but the camera sucks SO BAD I just had too put it up. The game has a multiplayer function, and lots of people ask how to use it. Forget about it people, don't even try. The camera always focuses on 1P, making using other characters a real pain. You can always use Genis, which is fine. But remember, only Genis (and maybe Raine) is fine. You can control others charaters, but since the camera only focuses on 1P, it is easy to miss if your character is not onscreen. You can set your character to semi-auto, which allows you to kick some enemy *^%@#. However if you are not able to see yourself kicking the ^%$#^, it is not the same.
Gameplay A WHOLE LOT!/10
What good is a game without mind blowing gamplay? Good thing TOS has awesome gamplay and lots of cool features. The trademark battle system is the most impressive. Battles are 2D in a 3D environment. It plays like a fighting game, with some RPG elements thrown in. To encounter an enemy you must make contact them in a dungeon or on the world map. Most enemies are avoidable but it is necessary to fight enough battles so you can take on bosses which you fight at certain intervals. In battle you control one of four party members on the battlefield, and switch between them at will. You can only go left and right, as well as jump. You can attack normally, using quick combos to take out your opponent. You can assign different special techs to the B and C buttons, and then use them to put the hurt on the enemy. The menu can be opened at anytime, and does everything from using items to changing your techs. Once you mastered the basics, you can try some advanced tactics, like unison attacks. A unison attack is when all your party members attack at once, bringing out some massive pain. Some characters can combine their attacks to create new and improved ones. Another advanced tactic is giving orders to the CPUs, allowing you much more options. You can have a friend or two pick up a controller and play as other characters (yes it is multiplayer) but you should read above. The AI is completely capable of handling themselves. The COM system is surprisingly detailed, truly a work of art.
After battle you receive some EXP, cash (or gald), and some GRADE. GRADE is basically a reward for doing good in battle. Remember that doing bad in battle can subtract your GRADE. GRADE can be used for three things, one is buying ExGems. ExSpheres are an important part of the story, and even more important in battle. You can equip up to four ExGems onto your ExSphere, and for each gem you can choose one of four bonuses (the type of bonuses is determined by the Gem level and the character who equips it). These bonus include Vitality (which raises your HP), Rhythm (which allows you to cast spells quicker by pressing A), to Super Combo (which raises you basic combo to six). Some of these effect combine and create new bonuses. GRADE also lets you purchase things from the GRADE SHOP, which opens when you beat the game. Most importantly GRADE is most useful for ..gloating rights! Since getting GRADE is a real pain, having lots of GRADE is quite a feat!
Another Tales trademark is the cooking system. After every battle you have the choice of cooking a dish, which can recover your HP/MP as well as raise your stats for upcoming battles. New recipes are taught by the mysterious (and well as strange) enigma, the Wonder Chef. Some characters are better at cooking certain dishes then others. In fact, your healer, Raine, can't cook at ALL!
Sometimes you will receive titles after doing certain things. Titles can be equipped by characters (one per character) and they increase your stat boost after leveling up. Each title is unique and character specific. Some titles even change the way your characters look! It is quite the adventure to collect them all, and it will take at least 3 playthroughs. Thus, the replay value is very high.
You will spend most of your time wandering the vast world of Sylvarant (as well as other places ) in search of the various seals. The world map is enormous and has plenty of goodies lying around. The world is inhabited by all sorts of colorful characters, from elves to wannabe cat people. You can enter various areas, mostly towns and dungeons. The towns are pretty straightforward. There are stores and customization smiths. You can rest at inns and chat with the locals. The dungeons are vast and detailed, filled with puzzles and enemies. Use your trusty Sorcerer's Ring, which has ever changing abilities, to conquer these places. The rings function can be changed, from shooting a water pistol to creating mana bombs. The ring is essential to completing puzzles, it can also stun monsters.
There are also many other fun things to do in the world of TOS. There are a handful of minigames and sidequests. With secret bosses and even some cameos of previous Tales characters (go to the Coliseum and find out!) makes TOS one of the most fulfilling RPGs .ever.
Why are you reading this? You probably have the game already! Unless you live somewhere like Australia. But as soon as it arrives there, everyone who is anyone will be flocking to buy the Gamecube RPG to end all great Gamecube RPGs. GET YOUR COPY TODAY!!!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/18/04
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