"Tales of the Best RPG for GCN"

Since this RPG is for the GameCube, I was very speculative of how it would fair, reminded of the fact that the GCN does not possess the grandest RPG library >_> However, once after playing this game, I am positive of the fact that Tales of Symphonia is by far and large the best RPG for the GameCube.

Graphics 9/10

Not the most important factor for an RPG, the graphics for this game, I thought, were yet very well done. I really liked the style of the cel-shaded character models. As well as the backgrounds, the battle sprites are in 3D. The game rarely slows down. I can earnestly only recount one slowdown I had, but this was when nearly everyone was casting spells. One problem though I did have, was that, when walking around in towns, I got stuck too often: Once on a bridge with a NPC, once between two buildings, and those are just the instances off the top of my head. However this "poor-polishing," I guess I should call it, can be used to the gamer's advantage. At times when I was trying to avoid enemies, there were many instances when I could lure, either by intent or by accident, the enemy to get stuck between objects. That's my only complaint with the graphics. Other than that, I really enjoyed the cel-shading of this game. Oh and one other thing. They really should have used the anime cutscenes, such as in the intro, a lot more.

Gameplay 9.75/10

This game has great gameplay. It's as simple as that. I loved the very innovative battle system. The battles are so much fun in this game. Stringing together normal attacks, tech attacks, and unison attacks is as fun as it is challenging. I also liked what Namco did with "titles", which are a primary method to influence how one wants his characters to be raised. Not only just by stats, but one has the power to influence what types of skills his characters learn as well. The latter is done through the use of the "T-type" and "S-type" system. By equipping Ex Gems and setting Ex Skills (marked as either T or S), a character will be influenced by how many T and S skills he or she has, and learn techs depending on whether T or S is the majority. Another innovation I found great, and useful, was the ability to "cook" after every battle. You can set up cooking through the cooking menu and then after battle, all one has to do is push the X button to prepare a tasty dish that restores HP and TP or specific ailments such as poison, etc. All of this alone is great, but battles can even be played with your friends. You can have up to 3 friends join you in your perils. Everything works out fine, except the camera. When playing with friends, the camera still only focuses on the first player, sometimes leaving all 3 of your friends off-screen, unable to know what they are doing. This could have very easily been solved by doing what Super Smash Brothers does, simply zoom out to cover all player-controlled characters. That the reason I did not give a 10 to gameplay. The problem in multiplayer could have been fixed very easily. Other than that one predicament, the gameplay is awesome and the best part of this game.

Sound 6/10

Being a musician, I usually crack down on the music in games. The easiest way to describe the music in Tales of Symphonia, is by the words "generic" and "bland". The opening song is the only melody of interest....in the entire game. I for the life of me cannot remember one single song from the game. Sitting here just now, I have not played Final Fantasy X in two years, yet I can play in my mind songs off the top of my head such as Suteki da ne and The Hymn of the Fayth, and that's letting alone Ocarina of Time which I haven't played in four years, and I can recall nearly every song right now. The point I'm trying to make is, I was just playing Tales of Symphonia fifty minutes ago and I can not remember a single tune. I would have given a four or lower if the voice acting were average, but the voice acting was good. For this title Namco hired some talent in Cam Clark (MGS2) and I don't know his name but the voice actor for Max in Dark Cloud 2. The only fault here is that I think they could have used the talent they hired more extensively. I mean if you're going to use two discs, fill them both up as much as possible. And if you can't add more content, just put in more voice overs. Especially with this talent, I don't see anything wrong in doing so.

Story 7.75/10

This category is simple to describe as well. This time shall I use but one word, “cliched”. Too much of this story is predictable. And since it is so cliched, it comes off as a rip-off of many different games (all those numerous topics “This game is a rip-off of…!!!”) However, there are a few plot twists but they are odd ones. I personally think there is too much use of “Character C is actually Character A, Character B is Character G's son, Character D is actually Character L” and it gets moronic. Is having characters posses multiple identities the most interesting thing Namco can come up with? Also, there are times when this game is childish. One specific instance that sticks to memory is when Zelos introduces Lloyd to his butler as “That is my bud over there.” Then the Butler proceeds to call Lloyd “Sir My Bud”. I don't like kiddy humor like this in RPG's. Not only the story, but the characters are cliched as well. I find Zelos as the only creative character. He has an odd-ball personality and unique dialogue, while the other characters put on a show like it's time to exaggerate every popular personality caricature from each movie/game/book in all of creation.

Replay Value 9.25/10

There are many things to do in this game. Namco claims [if you do every possible thing] the game takes eighty hours to complete. However, it usually lasts in the range of forty to sixty hours. There is a load of stuff for you to do in this game: getting recipes, getting titles, getting to level 255, and many secrets. There are many things you can do in your New Game+ which make the experience better. I think the battle difficulties in normal, hard, and mania mode are pretty well set and each is just enough harder than the one before it. I'll be playing this game for a while...or at lest until Star Ocean 3 comes out ^^;;

Final Grade - 8.25

For me, anything in the range of 8-10 is a great game and Tales of Symphonia definitely falls in this category. Things that would improve this game would have been better music and more unique characters and a more unique storyline. All said and done, this is the best RPG for the GameCube. If you own a GCN, there is no reason to not purchase this game TODAY.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/31/04

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