Review by Flare_Dragon123
"What we've come to expect from the Tales series, and JRPGs as a whole."
Tales of Vesperia is what you can expect from the majority of JRPGs made. You are thrust into a world where you are a rebel against a large empire, soon to come across a large eyed pretty girl, with whom it becomes your job to baby around to the ends of the earth, picking up friends and life experiences along the way, until you end up having to save the entire planet. However, it is the journey that matters, not the end result, and the Journey in Tales of Vesperia takes you through quite a ride, and is definitely in the upper eschelon of video games this generation.
Story : 7.5/10
You are Yuri Lowell, a no worry type of guy who is at ends with the empire, due to his upbringing in the Capital's Lower Quarter. At the start your journey is to simply get back the aque blastia from the lower quarter (and no, "aque" is not a typo) and go back to the normal everyday routine. As fate would have it, such a thing is not simple (wouldn't be an RPG without complexity), and before you know you're in a jail cell. As the story unfolds you meet the feeble cookie cutter heroine, Estellise. Estelle is looking for your best friend Flynn. You heroically take up the charge of taking her to see Flynn, and the story from that point takes off and doesn't stop. Around every turn things seem to get more and more fantastic, and you end up facing off against ancient evils and acquiring a rag tag group of people to join your party.
The strengths in Tales of Vesperia's stories, are the strengths shared among most of the Tales' series stories. Character development is at worst hit and miss and at best honest and open. There are no paper thin characters in Vesperia, but none of them break the mold much either, you have your brave and strong hero, your weak naive heroine, you have the excited kid, the genius, the vixen, and the pervert. There's even a dog. While the stereotypes are fitting and the majority of the story is easy to see coming, Vesperia still manages to do what Tales has always done, and the end result is what you can expect. Now the story isn't bland and dry, in fact it kept me riding right along with it up until the very end. If you are a fan of the Tales series, RPGs, or Anime, then Vesperia is not exactly expansive, but its worth the ride at least once.
Game Play: 7/10
Now as usual in any RPG out there, you will have to go through dungeons, and odds are these dungeons will include monsters, by which you have to battle to level up and increase your stats, so that you can just barely kill the monsters in the next dungeon, and so on and so forth. The Tales series continues the long running traditions of non-random battles, and the linear battle system, which allows you to lock on to an enemy and run along with them, or to free run around the battle circle. This system has always, and probably always will be, a bit fresher than the typical turn based systems from older RPGs. Eventually though, I believe this system does get a tad boring, and especially in Vesperia I found myself falling behind the times, and the normal enemy encounters became quite grueling while a few boss battles were borderline impossible. This can be blamed on my bad habit of skipping around the enemies, and probably not a normal situation to encounter if you actually took the time to fight all the enemies in your way.
The dungeons in this installment seem to be a step down from where they were in previous games, the creativity is still there (even though you still end up in the sewers), but the majority of these dungeons are run here read dialogue run over there read dialogue run back read dialogue fight boss next dungeon, and it gets to be a bit worn out after a while. The enemies start off nicely designed, but as usual just end up being palette swaps, and this unfortunately is true through out most of the game, by the time you fight the Egg Bear (think 6% or so into the game) you've seen the designs you will be fighting in different colors all the way to the very last dungeon of the game.
Yet with all these complaints, it does hold together, though it lacks puzzle, of most any kind, its what you can expect from an RPG and it doesn't do it bad, but that doesn't make it impressive either. The battle system is what carries the game play for the most part.
This isn't Uematsu, but it definitely deserves to be noted that the music in Vesperia is just as moving as any Uematsu's typical scores are. The music sets you in the right mood at the right time, and makes some of the more intense moment's just as intense. The music doesn't make the game, but I felt this was worth mentioning, as it is what you will be listening to for the entire game.
Side-Quests and Replayability: 9/10
Ahh yes, Side Quests are a stitch if you want a good RPG. Sick of saving the world, go forget about it for a while and still get rewards for it. By now its obvious you will not be getting the grandest of equipment by just opening every single treasure chest you come across, you have to chase a dragon across the world map if you want to get the coveted Ultima Weapon, and as such you have to go out of your way in Vesperia to get everyone's best weapons, armors, and those hugely helpful accessories. Not only that but the fact that nearly all the weapons have expanded and upgraded forms via synthesis, this game could keep you busy for another 50 hours after you've beaten the story.
Replayability has been prominent in the Tales series (or at least the few that I have played) allowing you to restart and replay the entire game with expanded bonuses, increased XP gain (to compensate for the huge level caps) and increased Difficulty levels (the hardest of which are usually intense tests of strategy and NPC manipulation, even with 10x XP) but its assured that you can keep playing Vesperia for several playthroughs and probably find something new and interesting in the world.
Character Development: 6/10
No, I'm not talking about story now, I'm talking about the thing that makes any RPG unique at all. No matter how captivating your characters, no matter how original the story is (which this game is lacking), no matter how great of a world you have made, no RPG is made without a nice character development concept. In Vesperia it is not at the greatest level of character design, no materia or Sphere Grid here. Instead your characters get skills, from their weapons, and learn them by, guess what, grinding monsters for LP (Learning Points). Now none of the skills have to really be grinded for, and you will learn the majority of them as you go along doing your normal thing. Now this had the potential to be very good, and still did manage to be only slightly below average, but this system did not work out at the greatest.
These types of systems can expand your character greatly and make them into truly amazing machines of destruction, but when you take simple things and add them into the system, or too many of the skills increase the ability or functionality of other skills then you just get a big jumbled mess, and that's what you get in Vesperia. You will often have to sacrifice several abilities in order to equip those skills that are really important, and the stuffier of the bunch will be constantly changing their skill set up, which by the time your characters each have around 80 skills to themselves, this will become increasingly tedious and annoying to do. Less skills wouldn't have necessarily been better, but as it is, you really have to work for things that usually aren't entirely worth having.
In Finale: 7.5/10
One thing that irks me is when someone doesn't give an honest score. They'll rate two or three categories 4 or 5, and one a 10 and give a final score of 9 somehow and someway. Analyzing the scores I've given, Vesperia is a solid, if average, game. 7.5 is probably the most honest I could have given it.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this game. It's a member of the Tales series if there ever was one, and its also good as a stand alone RPG. It shouldn't probably be the introduction into the genre though, there are some RPGs that are great for bringing someone into it (see Final Fantasy) and others that are good for those of us who are already fans and already understand some of the stitches (Tales of Vesperia)
Vesperia will be enjoyable for fans of games, anime, and RPGs.
Story: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7 / 10
Music: 9 /10
Side Quests - Replayability: 9 / 10
Character Development (System): 6 / 10
Final Score: 7.5 / 10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/16/09
Game Release: Tales of Vesperia (US, 08/26/08)
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