Review by doctorofwho
"Great entry for newcomers to the series"
Tales of Graces f is an enhanced port of a Japanese only RPG which was originally on the Wii and now on the PS3, developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Namco Bandai.
Tales is a series which has garnered a niche following overseas but also has one of the highest production values for a niche game which makes it a difficult game to make a profit from but even while Namco has seemingly given up on the series at several points during the series' history, they always come back with some new games which they will released in the west.
The game is about a boy who is heir to a baron who presides over the outer regions of the Kingdom of Windor. After a meeting that he and his brother has with a girl along with a meeting with the prince of Windor, they end up setting up the events that will shape their adult lives.
The story may not be spectacular to some but I really enjoyed it and found all the characters likeable. Through the main story along with the sub-events (side stuff that are for fun or tell you more about the characters) and skits which is a series trademark, you will really like the characters by the end of the game or at the very least understand them and their personality.
Skits as I said above are a series trademark where you see a button prompt at the bottom of the screen, press it and see a conversation between several characters. This helps show you what the characters are like, what their personalities are like and how the characters interact with each other when they aren't worried over how they will save the world.
The battle system in Tales of Graces f is far different from most Tales games released in the west. Up until recently, there have been two teams that work on Tales games. Team Symphonia (named after Tales of Symphonia) and Team Destiny (named after Tales of Destiny 2 when the teams were formed and named officially) and in the west, we have only gotten Team Symphonia games until now.
Because of this, we get to experience a different battle system from what we are used to (Team Symphonia used a TP system, similar to the MP system from other RPGs like Final Fantasy) and while some have taken a while to get used to it, the system proves itself to be quite a fun system and certainly different from what we are used to.
The battle system uses a Chain Capacity (CC) system where every move you make costs CC, from free-running to attacking and while CC restores quite quickly after you hold the block button, it does mean you have to use the quick-step function in order to dodge your enemies attacks while you restore your CC or when you need to dodge some powerful attack from your enemy.
This game also doesn't use your typical artes (attack/magic skills) that Team Symphonia uses, instead it uses A artes and B artes. A artes are special artes that are similar to normal attacks in other titles but they use up CC and can be chained into slightly more powerful attacks.
It uses an arte tree which once you learn the attacks, you can attack using the A arte button and after the first hit, if you pressed a directional button, it would go into another attack, and so on until you get to the attacks that take up 4 CC.
It sounds more complicated on paper than it is though, it is pretty simple and actually a lot of fun.
The other type of artes are your B artes which is pretty similar to the Burst artes from other localized Tales titles and are most akin to special attack or magic skills from other Japanese RPGs.
In this, you also don't learn new artes (A or B) as you level up. Instead you learn them from titles which you gain as you level up and achieve new feats such as using an arte a certain amount of time, getting story related titles or hoarding a certain amount of gald (the games currency).
Each title have 5 things you can learn, be it stat boosts, artes or Mystic Artes (also known as Blast Caliber for those that played the Japanese version) which is the Tales equivalents of Limit Breaks for those that have played Final Fantasy. Titles level up using SP which you earn in battle or by using an item which can give you a certain amount of SP.
There is also the Eleth mixer which allows you to create items using a certain amount of eleth (which you can charge up at Inns) and once you get certain books, you can put them into the mixer to provide special effects such as increased SP at the end of battle although again at the expense of eleth.
The game also features fetch quests which you can get from inn and they provide gald, SP and sometimes character related development. Another extra the game has is the arena which allows you to fight enemies up a certain amount of floors (and sometimes with certain restrictions like having only one person fight throughout the arena).
There is also quite a few throwbacks to previous Tales games including ones we didn't get in the west but if you've played those games then these throwbacks will certainly please you.
If you've not played them, you might get interested in them either from cameo battles which you get with 3 different characters from Tales games that we didn't get in the west or from cards (used in a side-game) that you find which have quotes and pictures of characters from previous Tales games.
As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in the game and on top of that, you also get a new game plus which provides even more replay value.
The graphics may not look the best being that it's an enhanced wii port but it does sport some higher resolution models and it looks pretty good in motion with the environments looking pretty good on the PS3.
The music isn't the best work the Tales series has had but even then, the game still features some nice music with some solid gems that really stick out. However apart from these gems, a lot of the music is pretty forgettable.
The voice acting is pretty solid though and everyone does a good job at portraying their characters although the lip syncing leaves something to be desired as it can sometimes be good and sometimes be awful.
The translation however is great and is probably one of the best translations of the Tales series to date.
Some who have played the original Wii version may be wondering what is new with this enhanced port and why they should buy it.
Tales of Graces f features some standard extras that you might expect like a fourth mystic arte but it also features an entire new arc called Lineage & Legacies where you get the fourth mystic arte and it has a new battle feature called accel mode.
Accel mode is a gauge that provides buffs and other effects when activated such as freezing the enemies for a limited period or providing some sort of damage towards the enemies.
The Lineage & Legacies arc also features some other side stuff such as new skits and sub-events and an optional boss in the arena. With all of this stuff, the new arc features 5 - 10 hours of extra gameplay and even more hours if you like grinding in games like this.
But even if you don't like grinding and don't wish to do the sub-events, you'll still get at least 5 hours out of the arc and that is on top of the 30 - 40+ hours (again depending on how much side stuff you do or how much grinding you do) you already get in the main game.
Outside of this, Tales of Graces f also features higher resolution models as mentioned above and it features trophy support for those that enjoy getting trophies in your games.
With all of this, I think both people who haven't played the original Wii version and people who have will get plenty of fun out of this game. And of course if you're a newcomer to the series, then this is a good game to get into the series where you will hopefully stick around for future installments of the Tales of series.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 03/23/12
Game Release: Tales of Graces f (US, 03/13/12)
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