Review by Jeff AKA Snoopy
"Tales goes a little darker, in certain ways..."
If you're a Tales of fan, you can almost certainly disregard most of this review. It is a great Tales game, and you probably already own it, or will soon. So, I won't write my review for people like us, but for the "others"
The strength of any RPG is the story. Almost any battle system and presentation issues can be forgiven if the story grasps at you and keeps your attention. Is the story THAT good? Sometimes. You begin the game as Yuri, a former Imperial Knight who discovered he can help people much easier without having to deal with the bureaucracy of the Empire. This leads him to being arrested here and there, tossing tax collection agents into the river when they come to bleed the "Lower Quarter" dry. You also meet his childhood friend who also joined the Knights, only believes the injustices of the Empire can be fixed from the inside. It creates a rift between the two, who understand one another, but believes the other is wrong in their attempts to change the system. Yes, nothing revolutionary, but the story unfolds very well, and the characters are so well written, it goes above the average. Add to this, some darker tones the story takes from many other RPG's (murder, vigilantism, suicide), it produces a very good story, that'll keep your interest through the game. Also, you cannot forget the skits. For those who have never played the Tales of series, the skits between the characters fleshes out everything about them, so you really understand who they are.
Not incredible inventive, but is done VERY well. 8.5/10
The gameplay is tried and true Tales style. No random encounters in the field or dungeon maps, light puzzle solving in the dungeons, etc. etc. Very typical of RPG's today. The difference the Tales games have in comparison to many RPG's is in its battle system. Battles are fought on a full 3D battlefield in real time. X is used for your regular attack combos, influenced by what direction you push. A is used for special attacks, called Artes. X is used to guard. The battle system itself is more akin to platformer fighters than typical RPG's. You receive GRADE in accordance to how effectively you fought your battle, used in New Game+. They added a new feature from the other Tales games, the trigger options. When you wear down an opponent in a certain way, there is a glyph that will appear over them. If you press the right trigger, you will do a one hit KO attack on normal enemies. You can use any of the characters as your main, while the others are controller by computer AI, though you have the ability to tell them what to do. It translates into a very fun battle system where you won't mind the battles.
The game shines here.... seriously. HD graphics look perfect on the 360, where the animation looks about as good as you can get for the anime style the Tales games use. The characters look fantastic, the locales are done well, and the anime cut scenes look better than most anime series out there. The voice acting continues the history of great voice acting from the "Tales of" series, now with the skits also fully voice acted. While this may not seem like a large addition, it adds more character to the game as a whole, and are very enjoyable. The music is appropriate, with the opening song an absolute delight. There is a style all their own when it comes to Tales, and if this will be your first foray into the series, you will be hooked, guaranteed.
Character development is key to the series, and this game is no exception. Rarely in games now-a-days do we have this level of detail to character development, and well, to every aspect of the game. There are no glaring problems with the game, and even if you are not a big fan of the series, you will respect and enjoy the work put forth by Bandai-Namco.
Game Statement : Buy it now, if not sooner.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/08/08
Game Release: Tales of Vesperia (US, 08/26/08)
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