Review by WilyWizard

"A wonderful RPG that avoids the Abyss"

A wonderful RPG that avoids the Abyss

Story

The story revolves around a young, self-centered aristocrat named Luke fon Fabre. His uncle, the King, has ordered young Luke to be locked in the castle until he reaches the age of 20. The reason? Luke was kidnapped when he was a young child and was so traumatized that his memories of his childhood have been wiped clean. Luke yearns to see the outside world and his only outlet is sword training with his teacher Van.
Also mixed into the plot, there is political unrest between the two main kingdoms in the game. Although there is a peace treaty between them, war appears to be on the horizon.

Game play

Game play is similar to many other Rpg's. You travel from town to town and explore dungeons. While in towns, you can buy equipment for your characters, food and other items. You can cook from recipes that you have uncovered. Staying in Inns replenishes the entire party's HP and TP. Later in the game there is also a casino in which to gamble and win items. There are many other game play elements, (e.g. skits) but you get the idea.

Battle System

I am not going to go on to much about the battle system because that could be a mini-review in itself. So, let me start off by saying that battles are in real-time as opposed to Turn-Based. Battles are also non-random. You can choose to avoid battles on the world map simply by evading monsters that you see. Also, you can move anywhere in the battle area simply by holding down the L2 button and choosing a direction with the left analog stick. You can use techniques called Artes to inflict more damage on enemies. You will acquire more Artes as the game progresses. There are also things called Fields of Fonon (FoF) that appear as small circles on the ground in the battle area. They are of different colors representing different Elements in the game. If you are in alignment with the specific Field you can unleash powerful attacks.
Finally, you can customize how your party fights in battle by changing their battle routines in the sub-menu. Like I said before, there are many more intricacies of the battle system, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Graphics

Visually, Tales of the Abyss is a great looking game. Each town/city you encounter has its own unique charm. Environments are vibrant and colorful. Characters have there own unique look to them, and are not bland nor boring. The only drawback I found with the graphics is when traveling on the world map. Here, there is less attention paid to detail. It reminded me of Dragon Quest VIII but without the variation. Overall though, Abyss will satisfy. No question.

Music/Voice Acting

The music in Abyss fits perfectly. I didn't find myself bored at all. It really adds to the overall atmosphere of the game and doesn't detract whatsoever from the game play experience. The voice acting was also well done. With so many voiced dialogues in the game, each character has there own unique style of speech. For example, Luke is rather whiny and annoying but when you stop and think about it, it fits perfectly with who he is: a spoiled and naive teenager. Inflections and facial expressions are also in sync. Overall, I was amazed at how accurate the voice acting turned out to be.

Replay Value

All I can is WOW! There is so much to do and see in Abyss that it will take you at least 2 play throughs to do everything. There are numerous side-events and sub-quests to keep you playing. Expect at minimum a 50+ hour play through. That's without doing many side-quests. This game can easily keep you busy anywhere from 50 to 100+ hours of playing time. If you enjoy long Rpg's this is definitely one you don't want to miss.

Summary/Scores

Tales of the Abyss is one engaging RPG. Graphics are rich in detail, are colorful, and the characters have their own unique style. The plot, while somewhat generic, is intriguing and eventually breaks away from formulaic rehashing. The battle system is more than just button mashing. If you care to take the time, it is rather deep and can be very complex. Put another way, there is more to it than meets the eye. Furthermore, battles are fun! Not only that, but you don't have to worry about annoying random battles although you will have to fight at times, because monsters may block your path or run after and catch you.

In summary, if you enjoy Tales of games you will not be disappointed! I haven't enjoyed a Tales game this much since Tales of Destiny 2 (U.S.) on the original Playstation. If you are new to the series and are thinking of buying this, expect a long RPG that is both entertaining and addictive. For 39.99 it is a must buy for any serious RPG fan.

Story: 8
Game play: 9
Battle System: 9
Graphics: 8.5
Sound/Music/Voices: 8.5
Replay: 9.5
Overall: 9 (not an average)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/17/06


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