Review by MARl0
"2008's best JRPG has arrived."
After 52 hours of play time, I finally finished Tales of Vesperia today. And to say the least, I was very impressed. Vesperia is absolutely the best game in the franchise.
The main protagonist Yuri is easily the best the series has had. His vigilante take on things is quite refreshing for a Tales game, and he quite literally takes matters into his own hands on more then one occasion in the game. Which made me think "It's about time someone did something about that!" when in so many RPGs, you wish someone would do something, Yuri actually does it. Plus the rest of the cast really helped keep the game fresh throughout. Raven in particular is just hilarious to watch during the skits.
Gameplay wise, it's classic Tales stuff. The incredibly addictive battles just never get old. It truly baffles me that Namco Japan would create downloadable content like gaining an extra 10 levels (for a price), when "grinding" (which isn't even remotely necessary in Vesperia) in an RPG has never been so accessible and painless as it is here. I found myself actively seeking out monsters, just so I could try and break my record for number of hits, or my grade for each battle.
Visually, the game is some of the best I've seen so far in a game. It's like they took my own personal taste, and created visuals exactly to my own specifications. It's not the most technically advanced game out there, but it is the most beautiful game this generation so far in my opinion. It's truly going to be difficult for me to take a step backwards with the upcoming Tales of Symphonia 2 on the Wii. After being spoiled by Vesperia, when I watch the videos of Symphonia 2 online, the characters look almost muddy looking, and their facial expressions just don't look as natural and expressive.
The music is also quite impressive. I especially liked the song titled "March of Brave Vesperia". It just has that epic tone that I love in games like this (luckily it was one of the featured songs included on the soundtrack that came with the collector's edition of the game). There are some songs, though great, that appear a bit too often in the cutscenes. It would've been nice if they mixed things up a bit more in that area.
Story wise, the game really held up all the way through in my opinion. It just felt like a massive adventure, where we always had firm, but ever changing goals in mind. All the events throughout the game, all built up to the final climax, and after so many different antagonists in the game, the final adversary didn't really feel like an adversary at all, but more like someone who shared the same goal as my party. But their method of the world's salvation just wasn't in line with our method. And when they gave their speech before the final battle, I couldn't help but think this person had a valid point.
My only real complaint about the game, is that the game runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second during the battles, but only runs at 30fps during the rest of the game. It's a minor complaint, but worth noting none the less. Especially since Tales of Symphonia on the Gamecube ran at 60fps throughout the entire game (minus the over world map).
Overall, I doubt there will be another RPG this year, that will top Vesperia as my personal favorite of 2008. It was worth every penny, and worth every minute I spent on it. I'll end my impressions with a quote from 1up.com's review of the game:
For years, detractors have labeled the conventional Japanese RPG a dated genre...Tales of Vesperia exposes that assertion for what it truly is: a load of bunk.
Truer words were never spoken.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/25/08
Game Release: Tales of Vesperia (US, 08/26/08)
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