Review by Achristianskate

"Possibly the best RPG. EVER."

Tales of Symphonia- Review

“One of the best RPG's for any console.! Does she have a 'stache?”

First off, I'd like to say that ToS is (in my opinion) one of the top 3 RPGs of all time. Ever, on any system. I rented this game right when it came out, originally having doubts that it would be any good at all. Open mouth, insert foot. I expected nothing, I found a magnificent, beautiful, detailed, and overall amazing game.

Graphics- 9/10
One of ToS's most obvious strong points is the beautifully done cel shaded style graphics. Before that, however, comes the intro movie. This game is worth buying just to see the intro video. Anyway, onto the gameplay graphics. The character's faces all change, rather than staying completely still. There are anime style movies that look beautiful scattered throughout the game, but I wish that there were more. I can only remember about 4 or 5 in the whole game. Still, the movies are amazing. Another point for the graphics to shine are the mini skits. At random, or plot induced, points in the game, you will be prompted to press the “Z” button, which triggers a skit. The characters in the skit appear, from the shoulders up, in an anime style drawing. They converse, and based upon the text, the facial emotions change. Angry, sad, scared, pain and fear all included. Truly awesome. There are no random battles in this game, and instead battles are represented by mini monsters patrolling the dungeon. A walking, one eyed plant represents a man eating tree enemy, and a skull symbolizes a squad of skeleton knights. Golden skeleton knights, that is. There are at least 150 different spells/ techs moves in the game, each with a specific action. Some call meteors from heaven to smite your enemy, and other unleash a whirlwind of swords. Regardless of the move, the resulting action is unique, and makes the game even more interesting to watch. The only reason the graphics are ranked at a 9, and not a 10 is well, a hairy issue. Literally. It looks like every character has a little ‘stache when they talk. Even the women. A closed mouth looks fine, but open it up, and you become a mustach wearing fiend. Weird. Oh! Almost forgot. Depending on where you stand (usually on the over world map) will change the environment in which you fight. Sand puts you in a desert, and trees pit you to fight in a forest. Pretty neat.

Sound- 7/10
The music in this game is awesome, at least the first few times you hear it. However, after the fourth or fifth time, you turn your music play device (stereo, CD player, MP3/ Ipod etc…). I personally found that “Hallowed be thy name” was a great song for boss battles. I digress…. Though the battle theme does change, it isn't until the final dungeon, where there are, at most, 30 battles. I would have been nice to hear different themes, but, oh well. Also, the voice acting in this game is sketchy at time. A lot of times. Some characters sound great and really convincible, but others sound like underdeveloped 10 year olds. Not cool. During skits, the text gets a bit chopped up at time. Like, If you were to say “ I really love this this review.” You would really say “I really like this (press “A” button) Review. Kinda' kills the mood at times. During battles, characters make random comments based on their actions. Chanting before spells, shouts leading to special hand-to-hand combat moves, and yelps and cries of pain from getting hit. Overall, though, the sound is above average, with a few snags.

I really wanted to give this game more than a 10, but I also wanted to be reasonable. The plot is filled with many sub plots in itself. While it is a linear game, there are many other events and stories weaved into the path you progress on. You have the main plot, yes, but in it there are enough stories and events to fill two worlds full of adventure. I don't really want to give away the plot too much so I'll just end with this. ToS has an awesome plot(s) that WILL change the way you look at other people, and yourself. I guarantee it. Its THAT good. Seriously. Well, I'll say this, you can see (depending on how much you know about them) influence from real leaders/ events/ stuff in history in this game. I thought it was kinda cool.

Characters- 9/10
Overall there are 9 characters you will control in the game. However, of these 9 characters, there are 2 that were not really needed to make the game. They were just kinda forced into the game like BOOM! They don't really hurt the game, and actually positively affect it, but it can be kinda awkward at times, trying to fit them into the plot. The other 7 characters were introduced in a good, timely manner. Too many characters can hurt the game, as well as too few. ToS manages to find a happy medium. The development of the characters in ToS is absolutely amazing. Some games have a plot, and the characters development as two different stories, which usually sucks. A whole lot. Not ToS. The character development melds into the plot to the point where the plot is based off the characters. An important trait that too many games often forget. As a matter of fact, the development of the characters can either make or break a game, and with ToS, it makes it a million times better. One of the coolest ways that the characters develop is through the skits. You push the “Z” button and a mini skit occurs. The characters show up, in an anime style drawing, from the shoulders up. They then discuss events, their opinions, and in this way, we can watch the characters develop. Another cool facet of the game is the titles you can unlock your characters, Based on events you complete in the game, you earn titles/ nicknames for your characters, which when equipped, are used as stat boosts when you level up. You peeping tom, you!

Re-play-ability 10/10
Other then the plot, there are close to….a million things to do. Even after you beat the game, you still have tings to do. You could do every single event in the game before you beat it, and still have stuff left to do. There are hidden dungeons (some only after beating the game), secret weapons (which is an awesome sidequest) and dogs that need named.

As you battle, you get grade points based on how well you fight, which after beating the game, can be used to buy extra features for your new game. You have to play through the game at least, AT LEAST! 3 times to get 100% completion, which is pretty nice.

Other stuff-10/10
ToS was, and still is an awesome game that will have an impact on you, assuming you follow the plot yourself. There are a few (just the right amount) of loose ends left up to the player's imagination, and a few things that you can read between the lines to discern. Nice to see a game that isn't black, white or even gray. ToS shines above all others, in a class with the most elite of all games, from any genre. Wait, what did you name your tree again?

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/15/08

Game Release: Tales of Symphonia (US, 07/13/04)

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