"If you liked Symphonia, you'll like this"

Tales of the Abyss is without a doubt another excellent game in the Tales series. Tales of the Abyss is good enough to rival the most popular Tales game, Tales of Symphonia. Really this is just another amazing games by Namco this generation. I have to say that Namco has been by far my favorite company this year. You simply cannot go wrong with Tales, Xenosaga and Soul Calibur.

The world of Auldrant has two powerful nations – Malkuth and Kimlasca. Yulia's Score is what controls the land of Auldrant. Yulia's Score is basically a prophecy that supposedly leads to prosperity. Because of this, the people of Auldrant often don't think for themselves and depend completely on the Score to guide their life. The Order of Lorelei is what controls the score and because of this, they are a powerful institution. The story actually starts with Luke, the main character of this game. At the beginning Luke is an obnoxious spoiled brat and quite possibly the most irritating lead ever. Fortunately he does change as the game progresses and he becomes more likeable. Considering this game is often compared to Tales of Symphonia, I will do as such in this review. Tales of the Abyss has six party members while Symphonia had 8 or 9 depending on how you look at it. This doesn't make Abyss inferior though. For starters, Abyss didn't have any really unbearable characters like Colette that actually ruin the game because they're so terrible. The first character you meet is Tear, a cold quirt girl who was raised as a warrior. She is a seventh fonist which gives her special powers. There is also Guy, the long-time friend of Luke who has a fear of woman. Natalia and Anise are two other girls who will join you. Natalia is somewhat gullible but she has a sense of justice and she uses a bow which is badass. Anise is the worst character, she's a little annoying but has some funny moments and she uses a giant doll to attack. Lastly, the best character in this game is without a doubt Jade. Jade blows any character from any other Tales game out of the water. Jade is a colonel in the Malkuth Empire and he is a skilled fonist with the dubbed name “Jade the Necromancer”. These characters will be together for a seemingly simple task but after events transpire it is of course, like any RPG, a race to save the world. The storyline is very good and the characters are well-done but I do have one gripe. Towards the end of the game, the game felt a little dragged out. That's probably the biggest gripe I have with the game itself.

The game play is like Tales of Symphonia, except better in probably every way. Tales of Symphonia uses more of a real time system. This concept is very fast paced and you'll have to be quick. However, this makes it more fun. You'll want to fight battles, which is always a plus when playing an RPG, or any game for that matter. You can have up to four people in a party, but you only actually control one person. This may not seem all that great, believe I thought the same thing but it isn't a problem at all. You are still in control of the items and the option of fleeing but you can program a character you aren't controlling to do stuff such as stop using artes when that character's TP gets too low or to attack the same enemy you are attacking. You can also get rid of weak abilities that become worthless later in the game. How do you fight exactly? Well, you can attack with the “X” button and press up to jump and attack. However, you can perform skills or have techniques that do more damage by setting up and using the “O” button with a direction to use these abilities. These will become very helpful later in the game. Instead of just being able to run in one lateral direction during the fights, you can now run all over the area. This certainly makes the battles even better and is an inarguably an improvement upon Tales of Symphonia. The cooking system is of course in this game as well like other Tales games. I really never used it that much but the cooking system is a system that takes the ingredients that are in the inventory and if you have the recipe, you can prepare the dish. You use this at the end of a battle and they it can do many things such as healing you, curing any abnormal ailments or raising your stats. You learn recipes from people you meet all around the world. No wonder chef in this game.

The defining difference that makes this game unique is the capacity cores and the fon slot seals. Capacity cores are actually items that you'll get on your journey. There are many types of capacity cores and you can only equip one at a time. Each capacity core is different and each one benefits you differently. It's best to look at what capacity cores you have in your arsenal and decide which one would fit the character best. Luke is a very physical character so a capacity core to increase his attack and defense would be a safe bet. Fon slot chambers are also an item that you'll get on your adventure. These actually attach to different artes you have. These can do a wide variety of things ranging from increasing the damage dealt, decreasing casting time, reducing TP consumption, adding an effect etc.

The soundtrack actually didn't impress me like it did with Symphonia. I believe this is the one area where Symphonia trumps Abyss. The soundtrack wasn't horrible but the only song I can see I really liked was “Awkward Justice”. The voice acting in the game was better too. Graphically the game is still pretty impressive. I noticed more rendered anime-cutscenes which were good. The graphics aren't that realistic but I really had no problem with the anime look. Also, by sacrificing some of the graphic power, Namco was able to expand more on every other category. The graphics weren't even that bad. The landscape was beautiful and the atmosphere was fitting.

Overall, Tales of the Abyss is definitely a worthwhile investment. There is a lot of replay vale to it and the difficulty is adequate overall. As I mentioned earlier, my two biggest complaints is that the storyline really felt unnecessarily dragged out at the end of the game and the soundtrack wasn't exactly impressive. Besides that, the battle system has improved in every way, the game is more graphically appealing, the cast of characters are overall better and the storyline is still epic. Unlike other Tales games, you won't see Volt or Undine or other summons but that's okay as they aren't needed to make a good games. Tales of the Abyss – another magnificent game by Namco.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/03/06


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