Tales of Vesperia (360) – Review

Namco’s first venture of the Tales series onto the current generation of consoles, Tales of Vesperia, will feature little surprise to those that have played the series before, not that this is a problem; the few touches on gameplay changes make for a familiar, yet new, experience, and the advantages of the new hardware help to make the presentation nicer.  For those that haven’t had a chance to experience the series, the game is very accodating to new users and is a good introduction to the series.  It still, however, has the usual stereotypical elements of a JRPG and is not going to convince those with an aversion to them to reconsider.


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Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology (PSP) – Initial Impressions

Played this for about 2 hours cumulative so far, and it’s pretty decent. It’s part of Namco’s Tales series, and actually is almost their take on Kingdom Hearts, in that the game involves all the characters from the past Tales games; I’ve certainly recognized those from Phantasia, Symphonia, Legendia, and the Abyss (with the last 3 retaining the same VAs from their games), and I’m sure there’s others I’ve not come across.

You play as a completely new character based on your specifications as to appearance, which allows you to develop him or her as you see fit. All the usual Tales mechanics are there: Artes and the Linear Battle System (though on a 3D map, so more like Symphonia and the Abyss), there’s cooking and other crafting skills, and the like. The game is structured by doing one quest at a time, with some quests necessary to progress the overall story. When you do a quest, you go to a field which you explore in a third-person, non-fixed camera view, fight and collect goodies. Some quests will have you work with another Tales characters or more, and while I’ve not gotten to that point, you can also hire characters for your party.

The PSP controls have yet to get in the way of the game – it plays perfectly fine.

So far, it’s a good addition to the series, and the incorporation of all the Tales games has yet to feel too out of place.

Tales of the Abyss (PS2) – Review

Tales of the Abyss - CoverTales of the Abyss, part of the “Tales” series from Bandai-Namco games, is definitely a return to form after the disappointing Tales of Legendia, and feels more like a gameplay sequel to the more popular Tales of Symphonia. The story is very engaging with pretty good RPG elements in combat and the like, but suffers the same problem that Disk 2 of Xenogears has, in that the last 1/3rd of the game lacks a lot of user interaction and combat, and feels poorly paced overall.

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Tales of the Abyss (PS2) – Initial Impressions

I was rather disappointed with the last Tales title (‘Tales of Legendia, PS2) which, while keeping the general mechanics of the previous title (Tales of Symphonia, GC); it may have been that the battle system while still using the active but linear (like most 2D fighting games) system, it had no 3D depth, or the look of the game was a bit weird, or maybe just a very odd story, but it didn’t grab me as much as ToS did.

I’m glad to say that Tales of the Abyss feels much closer already to Symphonia that Legendia, as the graphic styles are closer to ToS, it uses close to the same battle system, and the story feels a bit better.  A few changes to the Tales mechanics are there, but not too much that I’ve seen yet (though only about 3hr into the game).  The largest annoyance which I’ve found is that the character sketches are back – brief little scenes which use 2d sprites instead of the 3d models and with text-only dialog to talk about aspects unrelated to the story but generally help with character development.  However, unlike the main text dialog (both voiced and text) which you can skip ahead, you have to wait for character animations to finish out to progress forward; you can cancel out of these with a button, but you don’t see the rest of the dialog.  I beleive, if I remember correctly, that ToS had the same problem with this mostly unskippable scenes.

But I’m still glad to see something more along the lines of ToS for Tales of the Abyss rather than ToL.