Review by Kayos90
"Tales of Vesperia is a worthy successor to the Tales of Series"
Tales of Vesperia Review
Story --------- 8.5
Gameplay --- 9.0
Graphics ---- 9.0
Sound ------- 9.5
Tilt/Value -- 9.5
The Xbox 360 has had a very good lineup of Japanese RPGs due to much support from Japan and its early release compared to that of the PS3. Games such as Eternal Sonata and Lost Odyssey satisfied those who hungered for JRPGs but did it fully satiate their hunger with an extravagant JRPG? Does this game truly deliver and meet all the expectations of a JRPG? After Namco-Bandai's last year of Eternal Sonata, Tales of Vesperia is a full-blown JRPG with tons of extras to do that will finally move players that don't believe that the Xbox 360 is the console for JRPGs.
Story ------- 8.0
The story of the game starts out in the world called Terca Lumireis that rely on blastia, which is an ancient technology, to make the world much more convenient. The blastia controls the flow of water, enhances fighting abilities, and also creates barriers over cities that prevent from monster invasion. Yuri Lowell, a former knight, living in the lower quarters of the Imperial Capital Zaphias finds that a thief has stolen an aque blastia from the lower quarters' fountain. What seems to be a simple chase becomes much more as Yuri journeys into the royal castle and meets with a beautiful pink-haired girl named Estellise. Together they escape the castle with their own agenda in mind and so begin their journey that will change the world forever.
Tales of Symphonia's main focus in the game was its interesting plot. There were many plot-twists and it gave players a journey that one would hardly forget. Tales of the Abyss was a journey of a young man from an immature child to a fully matured man. While Abyss' story was an important aspect overall, the key standing point was the change that the main character went through and his interaction with other characters. Tales of Vesperia's story is important but the story is just a cover-up for what the theme and the main focus of this game is. Unlike the previous game the story won't be as dramatic or epic but that doesn't mean it's not very grand. However, what is grand is the message the Tales of Vesperia has to offer. The character development in the game is extensive and truly shows by the end of the game when the player compares to how they acted before and how they act now. Not only is the development of the characters deep but the actions and consequences that the characters face is even deeper. Yuri is a former-knight who quit due to the many problems that the Imperial Knights have enforcing the laws. Because of this fact he must face the fact that some things are not going to change unless he acts upon them. The game puts a heavy emphasis on responsibility, view of justice, and thoughts of the character into the player and that is something that not many games point out. What one might find lacking in the story overall, he or she will definitely find in the each and individual characters that travel with the player throughout this long journey.
Gameplay ----- 9.0
Tales of Vesperia truly shines in the gameplay portion of the game. The combat is engaging and the exploration of the dungeons is well executed for the most part. The little things that one can complain in the gameplay department are very few and if it can be complained it's due to many of the limits that the game breaks.
The gameplay layout is as such: The player controls a character and travels the world, fight all the monsters in a certain dungeon, beat the boss, and proceed. Such a simple process however can be expanded greatly. The player takes control of the main character Yuri Lowell and starts out in the Imperial Capital Zaphias. The player starts out from Zaphias and journeys throughout the world whether it be dungeons or towns. As the player goes exploring outside the town, there are towns that the player can visit here and there and dungeons that the players can traverse through. In the towns one can restock on all of their items or upgrade their items by buying new weapons or Synthesizing new ones. The Synthesis system allows the players to forge new weapons, armors, and extras for each character. The materials that player needs to forge the items are constantly in demand allowing the players to decide if he or she should buy the item or synthesize it.
The towns are huge but you will never get lost and they are well-crafted to make each and every one different from other towns spread throughout Terca Lumireis. Once the player is finished doing the tasks in the town the player travels through dungeons for reasons that vary. The dungeons are full of monsters that players can encounter to battle. The player can explore every branched root in each dungeon to find every chest or breeze straight through it depending on the player's style. Also while journeying throughout the world there are skits that can be activated when a title pops up on the bottom portion of the screen. These skits, when activated, starts up a character conversation that can add to the story, give humor, and more. The conversations are fun to listen to but they can be a little abstract as it is just character mugshots moving their lips. Traveling the world is done by a large world map in which the character can either walk to their destination or travel by ship or a flight vehicle, which is later acquired in the game. Going from one point to another point will never take too long and you won't do that much back-tracking in the game, which is always a good thing.
Of course, in a JRPG, the battles are what take the bulk of the time in the game. As the character travels the world map or a dungeon in the very expansive globe, the player will run into monsters. Luckily the monsters are not done in random encounter but there are monsters placed on the map and by simply running into it will cause a battle to ensue. This gives the player the option to run when in a dire situation or farm for experience points. The game's combat system takes the formula from previous Tales of games and expands upon it. In Tales of Vesperia a redesigned engine is in use called the Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System. This system puts the controlled character in a 2 dimensional plane in which the player will move to or from the selected target in a set battlefield. However, by holding the L-trigger the player can freely move around the battlefield to choose the best location on the battlefield to fight. The battlefield is a very large circular area with invisible walls that prevent anything from walking out but this shouldn't limit the players view about the battle. A party of 4 including the character that the player can control is set into the battlefield once the battle starts and an all-out fight occurs between the enemy and you.
The game controls work like such: The B button is your normal attacks, the A button is your special attacks called Artes, the X button is to defend, and the Y button is the menu button for item use. By pressing different combinations of the A and B button along with the Left Thumbstick the player can chain up combos that can vary in length. This becomes crucial later on as some enemies are easier to deal with when they cannot oppose you. In addition the normal attacks and the Artes, there are other special moves the player can pull off by attaining skills throughout the game. A character can equip a certain weapon and have access to a skill that is attached to the weapon. As time goes on the player can learn these skills and use these skills without the weapon. Certain skills will also enable the player to pull off more powerful versions of Artes called Burst Artes and Mystic Artes. These moves come hand in hand with the Overlimit bar which is on the left-hand side of the screen. As the character hits and enemy or receives hits the Overlimit bar fills up. Once the bar is filled up to a certain point, the character can activate its strength and go into Overlimit. This ability allows the player to instantly cast spells, use the amazing Burst Artes and Mystic Artes, as well as chain up an endless amount of Artes. Along with the Artes is the ability to use Fatal Strikes. When an enemy receives a critical hit an insignia appears on the monster and by a well-times press of the R-Trigger can initiate a Fatal Strike. The Fatal Strike automatically kills the enemy and is a nice addition to the battle. By the end of the game, the player will have a variety of skills that the character has learned and has the option to customize the character to optimum status.
The fights start out simple and short but become longer and complicated which requires more strategy as the game progresses. On harder difficulties strategy is a necessity as the enemies are smarter and have more hit points. Although the player controls only 1 character, this doesn't mean that your party members are uncontrolled. Three friends can join in on the game and control the 3 remaining characters. The addition of friendly co-op multiplayer is a nice touch and if playing with friends is not an option then the 3 party members can be controlled by the computer AI. The player, thankfully, has the option to customize the character's actions in the game through the Strategize function which is always handy during the tough boss fights. The combat is very slick and smooth and runs at its maximum potential. Combat in this game is handled the best out all the previous Tales of games as it runs at the right pace without punishing the players too much.
However, not all games come without any problems. This game shares minor faults that might drive a player to insanity if he or she is a completionist. There are tons of side-quests in this game that it will add on probably 20+ hours of gameplay to the already 60 hour game. The problem with having so many side-quests is that they are easily missed as the player journeys through the story. This game encourages the player to replay multiple times which one can find tireless and tedious. Also this game puts the Xbox 360 to the limits when certain battles become too hectic. The framerate slows down somewhat and the 360 has a hard time keeping the game under control. This, luckily, only happens when the player abuses the Meteor Storm with Overlimit, or when the player goes into the secret 200-Man Melee. These faults are minor and do not deprive the game's true strength.
The gameplay of Vesperia is done in a very neat and well-fashioned manner. There are very fast load times, especially for such a long game, and is a technical spectacle. Certain portions of the gameplay could've been more organized but overall the satisfying combat, the exploration of the worlds, and the little skits that pop up here and there along with side-quests truly make this game shine.
Graphics -------- 9.0
Tales of Vesperia uses various types of graphical style such as CGI and anime but generally sticks with cel-shaded throughout the game. The graphics in this game look very smooth and sleek. Although the graphics aren't set in a realistic style or compares to that of last year's Eternal Sonata, it still is well done. The character models look great and the facial expressions they give truly show what emotion they are feeling. Although it isn't as detailed as Eternal Sonata's lush and beautiful graphics, the little things that Vesperia has put effort into its graphical department is spectacular.
The characters outfits and archetypes are well created; the visuals of the characters look generally great overall. However, what will definitely make the eyes go wow are the landscapes of the towns and the battles. The towns are well colored and look bright and shiny; they really are a piece of art to look at. The Imperial Capital of Zaphias when looking in detail looks like an actual city if it wasn't for the cel-shaded style. The artistic design is well-executed as well as the graphics that compliment it. And of course there are the battles. These visuals in the battles can be described in a single word, flashy. This game has bright lights bursting in and out of nowhere and when the battle gets really hectic, sometimes one will wonder how they pulled off so many different types of graphical marvels with only the color spectrum. The Burst Artes or the Mystic Artes that one can pull of shine with wonderful colors and flash around everywhere like a fireworks parade. Even the little things such as real time water reflection are in place. When Rita, your spell-caster, casts Tidal Wave you can literally see the reflection of all your characters in the battle. The characters mouths actually move when they talk in battle and the little graphical problems it has are none.
The developers that put their hard work into the graphics section of this game certainly had their hands full. With the cel-shaded style of the game that enriches the world with vibrant colors along with the little things that players would never notice here and there really makes the presentation and the graphical side of this game stand out. Although this game looks great in cel-shaded style, this is not the only style of art that is used in the game. CGI and anime is well mixed into the graphical formula. While the anime transitions fine as they are important cutscenes, the CGI doesn't mesh really well with the overall game. Having 3 artistic styles is a bit overkill but isn't something that diminishes the quality of the presentation overall.
As great as the graphics and the presentation of this game is overall, there isn't anything spectacular about it that makes it exceed other graphical marvels. The battle scenes look amazing and gorgeous and the towns look lively, but it isn't anything that would truly push the limits of the Xbox 360 to the max.
Sound -------- 9.5
Motoi Sakuraba has outdone himself once again. The musical score in this game is absolutely stunning. The variety of each piece fits in every situation that the game presents and the timing of the entrance of each one is spectacular. The music ranges from the proud roar of the trumpets when the Imperial Knights enter to the sad orchestrated tune that is played when the characters are down. The diversity of each one is amazing in its own right and the stunning composition of the pieces is even greater.
Along with the great musical outline, the voicing in the game is also very well-done. Each character's voice magically fits in some way or another. Yuri's voice doesn't sound too deep or too high and the tone of his voice fits all the time. Karol's voice sounds exactly like a panicking little kid and Rita's is that of a young teenager who's arrogant and brilliant at the same time. The entire voice acting cast did an absolute amazing job putting the right amount of emotion and placing themselves in the right tone in each situation. There's really not much to complain about the voicing except for the lack there of in certain portions in this game.
Tilt/Value ----- 9.5
Although the game isn't extraordinarily innovative, it still does an amazing job at utilizing the battle system. The innovation isn't revolutionary but the minor tweaks that it has here and there from prior Tales of games will make this game definitely feel differently.
When a journey is finished around 60 hours or so, one would think that the game is done and over with. Fortunately that is not quite the case. This game is long in one playthrough, but there are plenty of side-quests to do and plenty of achievements to unlock. If you are a perfectionist, you will be playing this game for a very long while. The side-quests in this game such as the coliseum battles or the EX dungeon can give you a sense of accomplishment. Other side-quests include getting all the titles, unlocking all Artes and such. If the total amount of time spent on the side-quests are added up then it can well be 20+ hours. Not only that but the achievements in this game will have the player going through the game at least 3 times. There are many difficulty modes to play in as well as extra features you can unlock when the player starts a new game. Tales of Vesperia is a game meant to last.
Conclusion ------ Final Score --- 8.8
Tales of Vesperia is the JRPG that everyone was looking forward to this generation. Although there were previous franchises like Lost Odyssey and Eternal Sonata, they do not match up to the length, depth, and awe of this game. Tales of Vesperia puts the player in the fascinating world of Terca Lumireis, the exciting battles between monsters, and the heartfelt moments that each character experiences. The game's graphics are stunning in its own way and is a visual spectacle. The sound quality of this game is perfect from the amazing voice cast to the well composed pieces of Motoi Sakuraba. This is the game that every player should buy if they are willing to experience a full-blown JRPG that will knock the players off their seats.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/15/08
Game Release: Tales of Vesperia (US, 08/26/08)
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