Review by nukethetuna
Before you kids knew about Tales of Symphonia, there was ToE.
Tales of Eternia was originally released as Tales of Destiny 2 for the Playstation, Spanning 3 discs, it was a well made, solid game that was mostly overlooked. I stumbled upon in by chance many years ago and to this day it is still one of my favorite games of all time. Now on the Playstation I would not have given this game a 10, however the PSP port is a perfect gaming experience, and in a library of lackluster PSP RPG titles, it is definitely the must-have game for fans of the genre.
You take the role of Reid Hershel, a self-trained hunter, who lives in the village of Rasheans with his childhood friend Farah. Reid is off on a normal hunt, when he comes across Farah. The two begin to talk, but are interrupted by a falling spaceship crashing into the area near them. They go to discover what lay inside, and find a girl in strange clothes, with strange mannerisms, who doesn't even speak English. After learning her name is Meredy, they decide to try and discover who she is, and later, to save the world.
The story is solid. Not overly original, with not too many shocking points. It has your typical sad points, comical relief, desperate situations. I feel that this is one of the story's strongest points, like the later Tales games, it does humor well, yet still manages to hold together a completely competent and somewhat interesting story.
I always liked the graphics for this game. Generally areas aren't repetitive or created through a chipset, which is nice, as it adds variety and freshness to each new area you explore. Character graphics are also clean looking. I feel where the graphics really shine are in the battle sequences. While the characters and enemies are drawn similairly to how they appear on the map (2D), special effects ranging from Reid's swordskills to Farah's martial arts to the incredibly impressive Craymel Arts are done in 3D, and I personally love the effect that results. Such a different graphic effect for your techniques makes them look incredibly painful and honestly, you never get tired of using a particular skill. Not to mention the game transfers incredibly well to the PSP, the graphics, in my opinion, are flawless. But I'm a huge fan of those 3D effects on 2D characters games. (Final Fantasy Tactics anyone?)
The music is solid, however, none of the tracks really stand out. You won't however, ever feel the need to turn down the volume as the music is still enjoyable. The sound effects get the point across, and sound appropriately painful and functional at the right times. Many scenes in the game are voice acted, which is a rarity in RPGs back in the PS days, however despite now being on a system where voice acting is more common, it still holds up, especially in the battle sequences. Some voices I felt were kind of poorly done (AKA Reid's childhood voice), but otherwise the voices represented the characters and their emotions well.
I personally love the Tales' battle systems. They're original and Tales of Eternia's was especially well done. The battle system is like Tales of Legendia for those more familiar with that game. A 2D "linear" action battle system. You assign your skills to different combinations of the circle button, and use those in conjunctions with guarding and regular attacks to avoid and deliver as much damage as possible. Learning physical skills is done in a variety of ways. For Reid and Farah, using skills you've learned a certain amount of times with unlock new techniques. For Max and Chat, you must find the appropriate items to teach new skills, and for Keele and Meredy, you acquire your new spells through the "Fringing" of Greater Craymels. You collect Greater Craymels throughout the story, and by splitting them between your two "craymel cages", you acquire new spells. For example, having Sylph in one cage, and Undine in the other will result in Undine's cage holder learning Heal. Various combinations are possible, and more become available with every level your craymels gain, and with every new craymel you get to join your team. All in all I feel this part is fantastic, as you can never acquire every skill at one time, and are forced to sacrifice certain skills to gain ones you'd rather really have. One aspect different from any other Tales game in the battle system, is the presence of "Extensions". The strongest moves in the game can be made even stronger through correct button combinations and timing. I was disappointed when this feature was practically non-existant in Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Legendia, as it adds an even more action packed, powerful feeling to your characters and battles. There are also tons of sidequests, from finding extra Greater Craymels, to the various minigames which include delivering mail, a naval battle, and craymel ball. Also, after finishing the game you can attempt "Hard" or "Hardcore" mode, with hardcore mode being the most difficult. This adds a nice replay value to the game for devoted gamers, though most will be satisfied with a single playthrough for a long while.
Tales of Eternia is a perfect port of it's PS counterpart, and the ability to play it on the road makes it a fantastic companion for long journeys. It's graphically beautiful, with good voice acting, and a fantastic battle system. In my opinion, Tales of Eternia is the only MUST HAVE game for RPG fans on the PSP yet. Wait for it's release in October in the U.S., or import the PAL Version like I did. It doesn't matter how you do it, if you're a fan of RPGs and have a PSP, get your hands on this game as soon as possible.
OVERALL: 10/10- A must have for RPG fans on the PSP, if only because it is the best thing available, and may be the best for quite a while.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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