Review by JamesBJames

"We needed a good RPG for the Gamecube. We got a GREAT one."

The Gamecube has been lacking in RPGs. Unfortunately, none came out for a few months. Then, we got this game.

Tales of Symphonia is an action RPG. You may not be familiar with this term. This game is an RPG, but the battles system isn't turn-based. It's real life. I'll go into more detail about this later.

Let me first explain the graphics to you. The graphics are different too, they're cel-shaded. I think Namco did a nice job applying the cel-shading technique to everything. The characters look vivid and detailed, and the landscape also looks superb. It's very detailed.
In an RPG, you fight monsters. Let me say this. There's a large quantity of the monsters. Some look the same (They're all types of rocks, but they do a different special move, and they're a different color). However, only a few monsters are like that. They did a nice job designing the monsters.

The sound and music for this game is above average. No, it's not the best, but it's certainly not even close to the worst. There are a lot of different soundtracks when you battle, but hearing it over and over again in an area gets annoying. For the towns, almost every town had a different type of music!
The sound effects are decent, but you'll probably not even notice them. There are very few sound effects that are noticeable, because after a while, your brain gets used to it.
Now, there's one thing that's not in all games. Voice acting. No, the voice acting isn't as bad as Megaman 8. Don't worry, it far surpasses it. Almost every character sounds like they should. Also, the personalities of the characters are outstanding. For example, the main character isn't exactly smart. He doesn't participate in thinking about hard ideas much, but he can be helpful in other ways.

Next up for the controls. The controls are also straightforward. Use the control stick to move (Surprise, Surprise). In towns, you can talk by pressing A. You can bring up a menu, which holds sub-menus to explore.
The controls may be a bit tricky for the battle system. This game isn't turn-based, where you take turns attacking each other. This is a real life RPG. You actually move around your character (which is super easy), attacking with your weapon/spells, and dodging and blocking enemy attacks! If you're feeling scared, just run away! The verdict: The controls are super-easy, and takes just a few battles to get used to the battle system.

Now to talk about how the game plays out. You control ONE person in battle here. The other people on your team are controlled by the AI (Artificial Intelligence). The AI is very impressive. They're not stupid, and by no means are even close to being stupid. You can even set what you want to do with them. Do you want them to keep their distance from the enemy? Done. Do you want them to heal after they get low on health? Done. There are many customizable things you can change!
Your characters can learn more advanced moves, which you can assign to them using a simple button. Yes, ONE button. Child's play, compared to fighting games where you have to press ten buttons in a row to get one attack off.
You don't do much in towns. You can buy stuff, activate a few cut-scenes, and so on. If you think walking is the fastest way to things, then you're wrong. I can't tell you what else you use, but the things are very complex!

Let's talk about the storyline. Basically, the "chosen" one goes on a quest with her friends to regenerate the world. On the way, they experience dungeons, enemies, and bosses. Doesn't sound too exciting, right? Wrong!
Many twists ensure, and you won't believe what happens! My only complaint that it starts off slow, but then goes too fast near the end.

There's one thing that may disappoint you in this game. It's not exactly hard. Since you'll probably love the battle system, you may tend to find yourself overleveling your characters. The boss battles may appear easier this way. Thankfully, the puzzles aren't arduous. They're right in the middle. Some puzzles involve pushing blocks to create pathways, or reflecting mirrors off other mirrors to open doors. No, it's not as easy as Zelda, so don't get frustrated over that.
If you think that the game is too easy, there are difficulty modes to change. Let's see you try to get past the highest difficulty. It's a lot more strenuous then you would think.

Next is how much you can do after you finish the game. This is also known as the replay value. Being an RPG, you can probably figure that there will be a crapload of stuff to do. There are about 10 hours or so worth of side-quests, and about 20 hours if you're a collector. 30 hours of extra stuff? Count me in! Also, you'll probably want to get the "extra" stuff you can't get on your first playthrough.

I covered part of this already, but a game isn't really that great if it's short. It'll take 50+ hours for the main game, and as I said before, 30 hours for the extra stuff. 80 hours total. And that's not counting if you want to start a new game or not. Add another 50 hours for a new game. You'll defiantly get your money's worth.

Conclusion time! If you're a hardcore fan of RPGs, get this game. If you're not, get it anyways. The only thing I can think od is that if you hate RPGs with a strong passion, then you'll probably bypass this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/08/04

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