Developer: Namco Tales Studio
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platforms: Xbox 360 & PS3
Review Platform: Xbox 360
This is my first adventure in a “Tales Of” game and I must say, it will definitely will not be my last. I first heard of the “Tales” series from a youtuber doing a rant/collection video and he wouldn’t stop going on about how brilliant it is, from this I always wanted to own one but in all fairness, it is a rare game. It came to November and I bought Tales of the Abyss for 3DS although I am not getting a 3DS until Christmas, I got impatient, I needed to play the game now, believing that it wasn’t going to happen, that I would not be able to play a “Tales” game until Christmas, I lost all hope … Until I turn on the Xbox and I go to play Black Ops 2 until I see that Xbox recommends me Tales of Vesperia because I played Final Fantasy, it must be fate.
This is what you would expect of a Namco Title, A brilliant story to be backed up with growing characters and that is what you get on a silver platter. The story revolves around former Knight of the Empire, Yuri Lowell, who left the knights because he wanted to change the world, just not the way the Knights go about it, accompanied by his faithful companion Repede. The start of the story begins with Yuri in his room wondering what all the commotion is in the Lower Quarter of the Capital Zaphias, the Aque Blastia Core has been stolen, it is the only thing giving the people of the Lower Quarter water, Yuri feels that he must investigate. Before I continue I must mention that Blastia are different types of power sources that do all different things for people in their everyday lives. Anyway lets carry on, Yuri tracks the thief to the Upper Quarter of the Capital, he attempts to capture the thief but he himself is captured and is locked away in the Castle Prison. While in the Prison he meets a Old Man, who plays a huge part to come in this game but he breaks Yuri out by sneaking him the key. While Yuri is making his escape he runs into a girl, Estellise, who is looking for Flynn, Yuri’s long time friend and rival. With this Yuri, Estellise (under the name “Estelle”) and Repede leave Zaphias in pursuit of Flynn and the Blastia Thief. Right so, this is about the first 1-2 hours of the game, trust me there is so much to do, the game roughly has around 40-60 hours of gameplay, there isn’t that many Side Missions but there are things like Synthesis which you use to create more advanced materials for your character. Giganto Monsters are a bonus in this game, while going through the game there are a few monsters that are a lot stronger than usual monsters but if you can defeat them, you get a huge boost of experience. If you ask me this story is brilliant but every story isn’t without their faults, this games biggest flaw in my eyes is probably the lack of Japanese Dubbing on the characters. One final thing about the story is a bonus side that is completely optional throughout the whole game, “Skits”, they are an event that occurs when you press the Back Button and your party have a conversation about recent events or sometimes just about random things, it really shows the humor of the game but I hear that it is implemented better in future titles. After playing the game right through to the end I would say that the ending has a big build up but it kind of feels like a half hearted attempt at a epic finale.
As you can see in the picture above it sort of looks like a Final Fantasy sort of combat system, granted, it is but more of a much improved Final Fantasy XII battle type but more of hack and slash version. The battle system may be similar a lot of the time (again much like Final Fantasy) but the addition of extra skills as you level up keeps the combat and the variation of strategies fresh. With the battle style you can defeat enemies at a much lower level than need be in other JRPG’s, I believe it was recommended for me to complete the game at level 65 but I managed to do that 10 levels earlier, without the freedom that you get in the battles that would not be possible. As you get further into the game you can change which characters to use in battle and I figured this out a lot later than you should of but it was OK because I preferred to battle as Yuri because of his speed. Journeying across the land is the same as it is again in previous “Tales” and “Final Fantasy” titles, as you proceed through the game you get the ability to travel across continents a lot quicker by boat and eventually “Flying Boat”. Probably the most annoying thing about the game is puzzles because a lot of the time there is no indication on what to do, so I often found myself going online to a walkthrough to give me some hints on how to proceed. Giganto Monsters as I mentioned before are much harder than every other monster but it seems that you are capable of doing so, I managed to do almost every Giganto along the way of the story because I felt that it came natural as a boss, it is worth going back to them if you cannot do them on first visit because the amount of experience is always more than you will get from any boss. A huge let down for me is that there is a port of the game on PS3 and it seems to have a hell of a lot more content than the Xbox version, such as more characters for your party. On the Ps3 version you can have Flynn and a Pirate named Patty Fleur as fully customizable characters, it really gets on my nerves how they get all of this content, they could of at least re-released this version again on the Xbox, especially because it has double, yes, DOUBLE the amount of voice acting, I remember so many times in the game where I just couldn’t be bothered to read those lines, what is this? Final Fantasy VII? Yeah I went there.
As usual for a Tales game they got the brilliant composer to create their Original Soundtrack, Motoi Sakuraba, the composer of almost every single soundtrack in the series, even so, this soundtrack sounds so unique and brilliant. This may be a unusual thing to say but it does sound very “Japanesey”, now this is by far not a bad thing, it just brings the style even higher. I can never even dream of playing a RPG with no music, just imagine how bland that would be? It would be like watching a documentary. I never once found myself playing music over the top of playing the video game because the music and the dialogue went together really well, I am usually the kind of guy to play music well over the top of a game but it truly was not possible for me to do so. Since we are here talking about the Audio maybe we should talk about the Dubbing because the Localized versions of the game do not have a Japanese with English Sub audio track and I have absolutely no idea why, I felt like it was just a downside to the game because I have always preferred Japanese Dubbing, even so I am not saying that the English Dub doesn’t bring the game any glory because it really is a great cast. Troy Baker voices Yuri Lowell and he does him glory, I recognized his voice so I decided to do some background research, he actually voices Pain who I first heard in English when I played Ninja Storm 2, he really brings a brilliant voice to the game, not just him, he is the only one I recognized but they all sounded brilliant, I cannot imagine how fun it would of been to be in the studio with the cast.
Right maybe now it is time for me to shut my trap, as I can go on and on but lets be honest I would just be going around in circles, so I may as well sum up with this conclusion. The game is brilliant in many ways but it has many faults, one of which is the Skits which is greatly improved in later titles, it really shows how they take on advice and opinions of the fans. What I would love to see is more of the games localized and maybe the ones that are localized, give them ports to Xbox, I guess the thing I am going to have to do is buy a PS3 just so I can play Tales of Xillia 1 & 2 and Tales of Graces F.