Review by darkdestiny90

"The first great RPG of the year!"

woo-hoo, finally a reason to dust off the Gamecube. Lately not very many rpg's have come out that were worth playing (don't get me started on FFX-2) And out of nowhere tales of symphonia came out. It has everything a classic RPG should plus a little extra, read on to find out what.

Gameplay (10/10) - This is where the game shines, From an intricate battle system to a awsome tech/skill system this game has it all.

Battle System - The battle system is in real time not unlike grandia or star ocean 2-3, except every character is on the same plain as the monster, so that you never have to worry about hit detection, it keeps it simple like it should be. But the strategy comes into play with the T/S system and EX. Gems. The T/S system is like a branching point for techs (magic) if you keep your character a T then he will learn different techs then if he went down an S, It sounds simple but it gets complicated in the fact that you can have it more T then S so you will learn techs slower but take advantage of the S-Type (more on that later). As for the EX Gems they give you special boosts like regen, stronger, more evasion, etc. But they are what modify the T/S system so a great skill could be a T but you want to go down the S and you have to decide if you should change it or what. Its a really neat system and really adds depth.
And lets not forget Unison attacks, where you hit Z and if it connects with the enemy you can do a 4 person combo on the enemy doing massive damage. The way techs are used is really neat, you set them to shortcuts like Up b, Down B Cstick up, etc. and if you memorize them you can pull of devestating combos. Also unlike most battle systems like this you can block attacks so that they hurt less but be careful or you will get guard breaked which stuns you in place for a few seconds.

In short all that means that the battle system rules.

Normal Exploration and World Map - everything is more or less is standard RPG fair with examining things, talking, etc. But there is one thing different, there are no random encounters but instead there are enemies roaming around on the World map and in dungeons so you can pick when you want to fight etc. One thing I noticed that was odd though is that there is no way to heal out in the field so if your far away from a town for to long getting back can be a chore. Also you can go in long range mode once you find certain way points that lets you ride on Lloyd's "dog" which lets you move alot faster and if you stop moving the enemy's stop moving, but if you do that you will miss items and stuff on the map. So use with caution.

Story (8/10) - The story is standard RPG fare with a few plot twists thrown in. (currently I am 10 hours in.) One neat thing about the story is that there are skits that you activate with the Z button that lets you have some optional dialogue which could give you hints, or character development and I suggest you do them all since some are quite funny.

Music (8/10) - Standard RPG music, sounds alot like every FF ever made, but it does have some catchy tunes.

Sound(8/10) - The sound effects are also standard action game fare with swords clashing and somewhat underused magic sound effects. You know the type.

Voice Acting(9/10) - While I personally would have preferred the original Japanese VAs Im impressed with there selection of voice actors, there are very few weak links as far as I can tell, and as an added bonus one of my favorite VAs is in it, none other than Alucard himself. Crispen Freeman. If you don't watch anime then none of them will sound familiar but this is an anime RPG so I highly doubt that. The only reason it is not a 10 is because they decided not to voice the skits, while in the original Japanese version the skits were all voiced.

Graphics(8/10) - The graphics are very good, with a crisp anime style and some cool special magic effects and some awsomely produced anime cutscenes (though fewer than I would have liked). Also the towns are all well detailed and the player models look great. The downside though is that sometimes the graphics get blurry for some reason during talking and some of the character animations, frankly, suck.

FPS(10/10) - Most games I don't rate this but in a game were timing is everything a high FPS is essentail, and somehow this game manages to run at a smooth 60fps all the time. No flaws here folks.

Play Time/Replayability (10/10) - Oh man this game is loooooong, from what i've heard 50 hours if you don't do any side quests and up to 80 if you do, plus there is a hard and maniac difficulty and plenty of unlockalbles at the end. You will be playing this for awhile.

Gameplay - 10
Story - 8
Music - 8
Sound - 8
Voice Acting - 9
Graphics - 8
FPS - 10
Play time/replayability - 10

Buy or Rent - For the first time in months this is a game any RPG fan can not live without, with any luck it will keep you occupied till Fable comes out later this year (Expect a review for that to).

Closing Comments - Go get this game.

Final Score - 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/15/04

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