Review by Calamity
"Tales of Vesperia gives us exactly what this gen needed. A finally all around amazing game."
Tales of Vesperia is the first mothership Tales game released this gen. It's a extremely good game and definitely stands among the best games of the Tales of series. To be honest, I did not enjoy Tales of Vesperia my first time playing through it, but I gave it another try and my opinion greatly changed. Finally, I have played a RPG this gen that is truly a fantastic game. Not just a good or okay game, but an amazing one finally. So why is it so good? Read on to find out.
Graphics:10/10:The Graphics are extremely good. Area designs are gorgeous. Character designs are well done, and the game is full of impressive attack/skill animations. Tales of Vesperia's final dungeon is one of the most beautifully well designed final dungeons I have ever seen. Overall, there's not too much to say, but the Graphics are great. Next, onto the Gameplay the most important aspect of a game.
Gameplay:10/10:Tales Of Vesperia is like most tales games. You'll follow a pattern of going from town to dungeon. Very strictly so in Tales of Vesperia. Battles and exploration are done with a four man party. Like in Tales of Symphonia and Abyss, you initiate battles by coming into contact with enemies on the field. Once you come into contact with the an enemy, you transition from the field to the battle area. Then, the battle ensues.
You'll notice Tales of Vesperia for the most part uses the same old battle system. The linear motion battle system. Vesperia's battle system didn't add too many innovations to the battle system, but it still remains a blast. If you don't know what the linear motion battle system is, then don't worry it's simple. Basically, in a battle you're on a battlefield with three other party members aside from whomever you're controlling. From there, you'll notice that you can only move left and right. Due to the battle system taking place primarily on a 2D field of space. That is what the linear motion battle system is. Aside from moving left or right, you can attack, block or use a Arte(Skill). However, like Tales of the Abyss, Tales of Innocence and Dawn of the New World, Vesperia uses the Free Run feature first introduced in Abyss. So, don't fear about being limited to a 2D plane completely.
This feature used by holding RT, allows you to run in any direction. However, the catch is you run a little slower and cannot use any Artes(Skills in TOV) or attack quickly. You can do one simple attack to stutter a enemy, but nothing more. It's main purpose is for dodging. Free Run can also serve other purposes such as to get behind enemies while they're occupied with other matters and to score some easy hits on them. Similar to previous Tales of games, you can go into Overlimit and perform Mystic Artes.
Overlimits are the special abilities of Vesperia. They were in both Symphonia and Abyss too. Basically, once a character's tension gauge fills completely, they can activate Overlimit. Overlimit makes a character far more powerful in terms of offense and defensive capabilities. The character who is in Overlimit, cannot be stuttered, knocked down or interrupted when attacking. Furthermore, characters can perform Mystic Artes while in Overlimit. Mystic Artes are extremely powerful skills that do massive damage and generally have extremely cool animations. However, you have to be careful. Since, both allies and enemies can activate Overlimit if the opportunity arises. So, you need to exhibit caution whenever a boss goes into Overlimit mode. Since bosses can use Mystic Artes as well. Overall, the next thing to mention would be a new feature known as Fatal Strikes.
Fatal Strikes are a new feature to Vesperia's battle system. Where if an enemy is hit enough times by attacks of a certain element, a glyph appears on them. If you press RT when the glyph appears, you'll perform an devastating attack that will either inflict instant death or cause massive damage. Personally, even though Fatal Strikes are a minor addition, I really liked them. They made battles a lot more fun and were satisfying to pull off. By this point, most people are probably wondering about the difficulty of Vesperia. Well, rest assured that Vesperia is a challenging game.
Most of the normal battles are easy, but just take a long time. However, around the middle point to the end, enemies do get harder and more aggressive. Despite normal battles being fairly easy though, bosses are not. The bosses found in Tales of Vesperia probably make it the most difficult Tales of game I've played yet. They have a decent amount of HP, do a lot of damage and take a lot more effort to stutter then most enemies. If you do not combo them consistently and dodge their attacks, then prepare to be in for a world of hurt. Especially later in the game, when bosses often go into overlimit and use Mystic Artes often. Don't fear though, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. In Tales of Vesperia, many bosses have a secret trick to them, that if you can get lucky and exploit, will give you a major advantage. For example, in one boss fight the boss charges up it's most powerful attack. During it's charging phase, you can run behind it and hit it enough times. If you succeed in doing so, the boss will become temporarily stunned. You also get a achievement for finding each of the tricks of every boss fight too. So, that will give you more motivation as well. Those who love innovation will be saying "Come on, that's it? All that's new in Tales of Vesperia? Rest of the Gameplay is the same?" For the most part yes. However, customization has been improved a lot in Tales of Vesperia compared to previous games in the series.
Remember the ability system from Final Fantasy IX? Well, Tales of Vesperia's is just like that. Each weapon you find comes with a few skills or just one skill. You have a meter next to them. It shows the progress of how learning the skill is coming along. While the weapon is equipped, you automatically equip the skill at no SP cost. However, if you take the weapon off, you no longer have the skill. In order to keep the skill, you must use the weapon and win battles until you learn the skills contained in your equipped weapon. From there, you must use SP(Skill Points) to equip the Skill. Skill Points are acquired by gaining levels. This adds a lot of customization to the game and offers a plethora of interesting ability combinations to try out. Which makes battling more fun and tactical. People may be also wondering at this point what about Sidequests? Also, the length of Vesperia. How long is the game?
Tales of Vesperia is filled with a extreme amount of Sidequests. Some expand further on character development, others are the optional tasks that give valuable equipment and items etc. Unfortunately, most of the really interesting Sidequests are during the course of the main game. To not miss them too, a guide is just about required. As far as costumes go, there weren't too many from what I experienced. However, I only really took the time to do two minor Sidequests over the course of Tales of Vesperia. So, I cannot comment too much on them. Aside from the fact, that I can confirm there are a ton of them. Even only doing two minor Sidequests though, Tales of Vesperia ultimately took me around 46 hours to complete. That's quite a good length that will really give you your money's worth. Not to mention, as with every Tales game there's great replay value. Mostly thanks to the wonderful Grade shop feature.
After each playthrough, players can access the Grade shop upon choosing the option EX New Game.(New Game + in simplified words). Upon winning battles in the Tales games, your not just awarded EXP/Gald(currency), but grade too. Assuming your on Normal or higher difficulty though. Grade is accumulated based on how well you performed during battles. You get graded on things such as how fast you killed the enemies etc. Once you pick EX New Game, you can access the Grade shop before starting another playthrough.
The Grade shop allows you to use grade to purchase many awesome things for your next playthrough. Such as 2x EXP, 10x EXP, 2x Gald, 2x Grade, carry over time/items etc. from previous files, 1/2 EXP for players wanting to challenge themselves, increased starting HP/TP, carry over Titles etc. There's just a load of different options to choose from, and each of them can make your next playthrough different in many ways. All-together, I give the Gameplay of Tales of Vesperia a 10/10. Not that many innovations, but the innovations that are there are great. Game still remains a lot of fun and will last a pretty good amount of time. With the Gameplay covered, it's onto the Storyline.
Storyline:9.6/10:Like the Gameplay and Graphics, Tales of Vesperia's Storyline does not disappoint. Similar to previous entries, Vesperia takes a generic stereotypical cast of characters and develops them fantastically. To begin with, Yuri the protagonist is not really a generic protagonist for once. He's not much of a typical hero, and rather is more of a anti-hero archetype. Instead of being a extremely determined protagonist who has a extreme amount of integrity, he is in some ways a criminal who doesn't always have integrity. Also, he's very laid-back and not always willing to charge straight into things. Quite level-headed and approaches a situation smartly. As for the rest of the characters, they are extremely stereotypical. However, they are executed well and developed extremely nicely over the Storyline. What may have seemed like a generic stereotypical character at first, may turn into someone far more deeper and interesting then that. While so far the Storyline might seem good, there are definitely some flaws to be found within it.
The the two weak points of the Storyline being the antagonists and the main plot. Tales of Vesperia's main plot won't really win any awards. Basically, it begins with a blastia core being stolen in the lower quarter of Zaphias where the protagonist Yuri Lowell lives. From there, Yuri meets other allies and they all form a group to combine their efforts in what turns into a quest to save the entire world. Essentially, the stereotypical run of the mill J-RPG main plot. Another weak aspect as mentioned, is the antagonists. Most of them are just generic evil guys who are evil for really no reason. Vesperia tries to develop them, but doesn't do a good job for the most part. As for the final antagonist though, he gets developed decently. Plus, for once he's a antagonist with a somewhat fairly reasonable motivation as to why he's doing certain things. There still is one massive flaw to the final antagonist though. And that's the game just seems to throw the final antagonist in at the last second just to make the game a little longer. Aside from these two flaws, the last one would be that the writing could be improved at a few certain parts. Despite those minor flaws, the Storyline is absolutely fantastic. If you want even more character development, the Sidequests offer plenty of more development for the characters too. Ultimately, the Storyline receives a 10/10. Last is the Music, what I personally consider the second most important aspect of a game.
Music:8.4/10:Tales of Vesperia has a pretty good soundtrack overall. It's town/dungeon songs are the strong points of the soundtrack and done extremely well. However, the battle songs are pretty much average and the boss song is nothing special. Honestly, the first and last normal battle themes are the only good ones of the game. Which is sad, considering there's four battle themes in total throughout Vesperia. The second and third battle themes just really disappoint in comparison to the first or last. On the positive side though, the final boss song is great.One of the best final boss songs of the series. As for the Voice Acting, it's done fantastically by a talented cast of well known anime voice actors etc. So overall, I would give the Music a 8.4/10. The music is pretty good, but it's one of the weaker soundtracks of the series. However, the voice acting is really well done. In conclusion, an 8.4/10 for the Music/Voice Acting. So, is Tales of Vesperia worth buying?
Overall:10/10:Tales of Vesperia is a nearly perfect experience. It's Gameplay is a lot of fun and has a pretty nice length. Plus, a healthy dose of Sidequests to do. Last, to kick it off the Gameplay has great replay value due to New Game +. The graphics are extremely nice, and probably the best cel-shaded Graphics I've seen yet. As for the music, it's quite good, but ultimately one of the more weaker soundtracks of the series. Most of the songs are really good, but some of the battle and boss songs are incredibly disappointing. Fortunately, the final boss song is great. The voice acting is extremely well done and will not disappoint too. Overall, Tales of Vesperia is by far the best RPG I've played this gen. If you're nearly giving up hope on the genre this gen and need a truly amazing game that stands out from the crowd...Give Tales of Vesperia a try. It will not disappoint.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/15/08, Updated 08/18/11
Game Release: Tales of Vesperia (US, 08/26/08)
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