Review by Calamity

"Tales of Symphonia: Going full force"

Tales of Symphonia is a game in the Tales of series. An action RPG series. The series had spanned across numerous consoles and there are many entries in the franchise. Tales of Symphonia is an amazing action RPG and probably the best RPG on the gamecube though. Here's why:

Graphics:9/10: The cel shaded Graphics are beautiful in Tales of Symphonia. Everything is so well designed and there is detail to be found everywhere. People who look carefully, will always notice interesting things in the backgrounds of places.. Aside from that, the characters look great and the enemies have great designs as well. In general, the game has pretty good graphics. What's the problem though? Sometimes, during cutscenes the graphics become blurry. I don't know why this happens, but it was extremely distracting and at times could prevent me from being immersed into the game's atmosphere. Overall though, the graphics are great aside from that minor flaw.

Gameplay:9/10: Tales of Symphonia is probably one of the most fun games I've ever had the honor to play. It's an action RPG which means the battles are not turn based like most RPG's, but rather more action oriented. Like most RPG's though, you go from town to dungeon as you progress throughout the game. At town you upgrade equipment and rest at the Inn. If money or levels are needed go and fight battles. Battling and exploring is done with a four man party. While exploring dungeons, players must solve puzzles. Most of the puzzles are extremely well done and thought provoking. They all have their own distinctive methods that they require in order to complete. In terms of the difficulty of the puzzles, the puzzles in the game are very well balanced. They are not so easy that you breeze through them, but they aren't so hard that you will have to end up using a guide. I can't recall a puzzle aside from one or two that really stumped me so much that I came close to using a guide. Aside from the puzzles, another great feature in Symphonia is that you can switch the field character when exploring. Don't like Lloyd? Switch Kratos to being the field character instead. With how you explore and progress in the game being covered, I'm going to start talking about the battle system of the game.

Tales of Symphonia uses what is called the linear motion battle system. You can only run left or right on a 2D plane. You use the A button to attack. Meanwhile, the X button is held to guard in order to reduce damage when a enemy attacks you. Of course, the game would be bland and lacking if all you could do was just physical attacks and standard guarding. Fortunately though, as levels are gained new techniques are learned for your characters. A character can be assigned techniques and you can assign the techniques to any button choice the game gives. Symphonia gives great button choices for the techniques so I never had any problems executing a technique. Players will find themselves absolutely addicted to mastering techniques. Eventually you'll find techniques that go well together. Let's say you get air slash. You slash the enemy into the air and then you use a skill called Sonic Rain. You use Sonic Rain to keep your opponent stuttered and up in the air. You see, in Tales of Symphonia when a enemy is attacked, the enemy is stuttered for a brief amount of time. During this brief amount of time, you want to do as much damage as possible. You also want to keep the enemy stuttered for as long as possible. It's much easier said then done though. Techniques require good timing to pull off well. Technique combos require fairly good timing. This isn't nearly as hard as a fighting game in terms of how strict the timing needed to execute combos is, but you still gotta get a tiny bit of practice to pull the more complex combos off. Once you're able to perform a technique combo you'll feel absolutely satisfied. People who've played the older Tales games are probably waiting to ask one question. How's the magic system in this Tales game? Is it unfortunately abuse able or is it balanced? I am glad to say it's balanced. Now, when you cast spells the mage will have to go through a waiting period. They will stand still and cast the spell without the battle being interrupted until the spell is ready to be casted. To make things more balanced and strategic, players can also hit enemies casting a spell to cancel their spell. Be careful though, enemies can do the same to you as well! So, not only must you kill enemies, but you must keep them away from your spellcasters as much as possible. While all this is good about the battle system...There is one annoying flaw with it.

Because your movement in battles is limited to a 2D plane...You can only move left and right and attack any enemies that are to your left or right. This would be fine if the battlegrounds where battles are fought were 2D, but they aren't. The battlefields are 3D. Meaning, your enemies can come from the sides and attack you. Even worse, there's nothing you can do about this. You would just have to switch your target to another enemy in order to attack them. As the game goes on, it can get incredibly annoying when you go to attack one enemy and two enemies from the side all flank you and begin beating you to death. There are ways around this, but they are way too much trouble to be worth it. So this annoying flaw is something all players will have to put up with throughout the game. The battle system is a great feature of Symphonia. With dungeons, battles and exploration being talked about...What about the length of Symphonia. Is there replay value or optional content too?

Fortunately, yes to both of those questions. There is optional content and lots of replay value in Tales of Symphonia. First off, upon beating the game...You get what's called New Game +. Which allows you access to the grade shop before your next playthrough begins. At the grade shop, you can purchase bonuses using grade accumulated from winning battles such as 2x Experience. Which makes you gain twice as much experience from every battle. The grade shop/New Game+ feature is a fantastic idea and it adds a whole ton of replay value to Symphonia. One of the best uses for New Game + is using the bonuses to handle the abundance of sidequests in the game. Needless to say, Symphonia is packed with sidequests. There are several of them. Some of them involve optional dungeons, bosses or a variety of other things. In genera though, the game should take at least 40 hours if you are just going through the main storyline. If you choose to do all the sidequests, you could be looking at a file that's very well over 60 or more hours in total. Overall Tales Of Symphonia has excellent replay value and a abundance of sidequests. The gameplay gets a 9/10 overall.

Storyline:9/10:The Storyline in Tales of Symphonia is great although not without it's flaws. Each character has their motivation for joining the party. and they are all extremely well developed The dialogue in the game is very well written as well too. As you proceed through Tales of Symphonia, you'll find out a lot more about each of the main characters. The deeper you get into the game the more plot twists occur. I'll admit some of the plot twists are a little predictable, but overall they are extremely enjoyable nonetheless. Unfortunately though, Symphonia's characters makes one huge mistake with the heroine of the storyline who's name is Colette.

Colette is an annoying heroine and is probably representative of what is wrong with RPG heroines. She is the typical heroine who is a damsel in distress and is always needing help. In addition to that, always needing someone to depend on whether emotionally or physically Admittedly the game does acknowledge some of her more annoying aspects in her game such as her clumsiness and how she continually trips and apologizes, but after about the eighth time of that happening...It gets really tiring. Beyond that, there are only a handful of redeeming qualities about her character. She just seemed so incredibly shallow throughout the game. Despite this flaw of the storyline, the rest of the storyline is excellent. The main plot is pretty good despite it being predictable, almost every character is incredibly well developed both heroes/antagonists alike and last, but not least the plot twists are great. In conclusion, the story gets a 9/10.

Music:10/10: Tales of Symphonia has a great soundtrack. It's probably one of the best RPG soundtracks out there. Everything from the town songs to the dungeon and boss battle/regular battle themes are all incredibly amazing. In particular, the game's soundtrack just absolutely shines with how stunningly good the battle and boss themes are though. Those are truly the highlight of this fantastic soundtrack. Aside from the music though, the sound affects are adequate and the voice acting is incredibly well done. I give the music a 10/10 overall.

Overall:9/10: Tales of Symphonia is a great game. It is definitely one of the best RPG's on the Gamecube and by itself, is an excellent game. It's definitely worth a try for any major RPG fan out there. The gameplay is a lot of fun, the storyline is fulfilling and the soundtrack to the game is absolutely stunning. Besides that, the graphics for the game are pretty darn good too. Ultimately, anyone looking for a great RPG on the gamecube should definitely buy Tales of Symphonia. The game gets a 9/10 overall. It's a excellent game and definitely a must play for anyone who is into RPG's.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/11/08, Updated 03/12/12

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

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