Review by BrandonTheSith

"A Remarkable Addition to the Tales Series"

Tales has finally made it's debut on a next gen console and, I have to say, this is one of the most engrossing and fun games to play. It'll keep you busy for days, and promises a long, RPG style story. Anyone who plays the Tales series should pick this up, even people who have never played the Tales series or have even heard of the Tales series should pick this up.

Graphics: 10/10

First off, this game is absolutely beautiful. It's cell-shading at it's best. The environment looks stunning, and the characters are great. The anime-style graphics and cutscenes are well done, and fit the Tales series, for it being a JRPG. The one problem is the monster models. The bosses have a mostly unique look and feel. The trash monsters are what's a small problem. You have a level 1 monster that's green. And then you have a level 30 monster that's red. They share the same model, just buffed up and a little different color scheme. It's not a huge problem; it won't interfere with anything.

Sound: 9/10

The Tales series has always had an interesting voice actor lineup. This time around, they're very good and very fitting for each character. Most of the main voice actors has been seen in one anime dubbing or another. The music is amazing. The opening theme is one of the best I've ever heard, I can't tell you many how times I've listened to both the English and the Japanese versions. The music in the game can get quite generic, but it has a nice RPG feel, all of RPG music should get kind of generic and cheesy at one point. The battle music sounds like generic electronic guitar music though, you can't really notice the music once you've played enough, however. The sound effects are, again, generic, but RPGs aren't expected to be throwing out a new sound effect for each strike or magic attack.

Story: 10/10

Very compelling. The story of the Tales series has always been almost never ending in series of events that connect and lead you to your next battle or destination. It takes place on Terca Lumireis, where humans use a technology known as "blastia" to help run their everyday lives, in fighting, and protecting themselves from harm via a form of a barrier that repels monsters. Blastia use a certain resource, called aer, that if used too much, or in an abundance, can be harmful to the environment and the whole world and eventually cause an apocalypse. You take on the role of Yuri Lowell, an ex-knight who lives in the Lower Quarters of the capital city, Zaphias. After some mishaps happen with the blastia in the Lower Quarter, it begins the whole chain of events that lead you to eventually saving the world, as all RPG characters seem to do. Ultimately, the story is about Global Warming and how we should stop it, it's a little bit of a political message isn't it? The story isn't that unique, it follows a basis line for a fantasy epic. But it has plenty of plot twists to keep the story interesting and ongoing.

Character development is also a strong point in Tales that usually come in the form of skits, which are little conversations between characters in between their journeys. Even characters in games have things to talk about among themselves, right? The heroes and heroines all undergo a lot of development that changes their view on the world in some way. The characters are well put together, but seem to follow a generic cast. They include an anti-hero, a pink haired, ditzy, sheltered, princess, a spunky genius mage, a determined, yet cowardly child, a womanizer, a knight, a blue-haired big breasted elf, not known as an elf in this game, however, known as a game race, and a pipe-smoking, dagger fighting dog. The weak point are the villains. In an RPG, you can always spot a villain the moment you see them. The villains in this game, not going to spoil anything, include a gender-bender, a villain with multicolored hair, a German-accented gun wielder and his two Lolita type sidekicks, the power-hungry psychopath, and the against-humanity human. Very colorful cast, don't you think?

Gameplay: 9/10

Tales of Vesperia doesn't bring anything awfully innovative to the Tales series, but it still requires fast-thinking and strategy to fight bosses, which can be very fun. The system of fighting includes the use of button mashing and arte techniques. There are 5 types of arts, which only three can be linked together for a powerful combo. Base artes are the technique that start the combo, and usually involves a type of attack that can lead into a combo. Arcane artes are the finishers that usually have a resolute combo attack. There are altered artes, which are obtained from skills that change the artes into a whole different type of technique that can be linked together with the use of skills. The linkage can go from: Base -> Altered -> Arcane. Or Arcane -> Base -> Altered. Each can be used with a skill, with the basic being: Base -> Altered. The other two types of artes are Burst Artes, which can only be used when in Overlimit, and Mystic Artes, which are your strongest arte. Burst artes are down by holding the skill button down of an Arcane arte or Altered arte, in Overlimit mode. This is a chain of attacks that do some very nice damage. They can be altered with certain skill sets. Mystic Artes are done by holding down the attack button after an arcane arte or higher. This sets off an attack where it's just you and your target as you unleash a flurry of devastating attacks onto the enemy. This cannot be altered, but can be improved. Fatal Strikes are attacks that finish off lower level enemies or chain attacks on boss level enemies. They require you to hit Right Trigger when you see an arrow appear on the enemy. The arrow will appear when their Up, Down, or Right meter is completely drained. You drain these in the form of artes, which have a different arrow type.

Puzzles aren't overly confusing, just enough not to pull your hair out over a game mostly about fighting. Encounters come in the form of creatures on the map that you can run into or avoid, a good way to get rid of people who are frustrated by random encounters.

Play Time/Replayability: 10/10

This game gives you just enough bang for you buck. Without any sidequests or side missions, just following the main story, you can probably finish the game in about 50-60 hours. With all the sidequests and missions, maybe about 80-100 hours. This game has plenty of things to do, and it almost on an open-world scale, like GTA or Oblivion. You can play this game as many times as you want, considering you have enough time. Some achievements have to be done after beating the game, like the EX Dungeon and the ever so loved Coliseum. The Coliseum only gets good after the game is done. You get graded in battles for how well you do, but not in Easy mode. These grade points can be used to improve your next play-through, like x10 experience, x2 gald, all artes and skills, all skits, and such. The achievements that have to be done after the game are probably "Low Level Challenger." Which is finishing Part 1 under level 15. Only possible with the 1/2 experience from the grade shop. "Speedster." Which is finishing the game under 15 hours. Really only possible with the x10 experience and x99 of all items. And probably "No More Grinding." Which is getting to level 200. Much easier with x10 experience, but not impossible without it. So, all in all, this game is worth it to play through.

Final Recommendation: Buy

I would definitely buy this game if you are an RPG or Tales fan. This is a great addition to any RPG or Tales fanatics collection, and will be completely worth it. With it's stunning graphics, well-developed characters, amazing theme, compelling story, and replayability. This is a must have game for the Xbox.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/08/08

Game Release: Tales of Vesperia (US, 08/26/08)

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