Monday, January 31, 2011

Game Diary: Tales of Tales

Readers of this blog will no doubt have noticed that the content mainly consists of reviews, and I would like to widen the range of articles I write. One of the new things I would like to do is have more diary style entries, covering stuff that I've been playing recently, so this is the first of hopefully many of these. I will probably do this once or twice a week, depending on whether I actually have anything interesting to say!

So, recently I've found myself jumping between many different RPG's, as I tend to do after just having completed one I've been playing for ages - namely Fallout: New Vegas. I like to test the waters, try some games out before committing to one and sticking to it. Something that has been influencing the games I've been trying a lot recently is the RPG Backtrack podcast - they've recently done episodes dedicated to Skies of Arcadia which really tempted me to replay it for a third time, and I'm now listening to one about the Harvest Moon series which is making me want to dig out my copy of Magical Melody and buy Innocent Life from the PSN store. They also recently dedicated an episode to the more recent entries in Namco's Tales series, which has resulted in me playing Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox 360, and this is the game that I now intend to stick with through to the end.

I picked up Vesperia back when it was released in Europe, played it for 13 or so hours and then got distracted by something else and put it aside. I decided to start over from the beginning on Saturday, and by the end of the weekend had got past where I had got to last time. Firstly, the graphics in this game are absolutely gorgeous, right up there with the very best stuff on the 360. Of course, this depends whether you actually like the anime style - if you prefer something more gritty then it may do little for you, but being a fan of all things Studio Ghibli I love it. Character wise, the cast isn't quite up there with that of my favourite game in the series so far, Tales of the Abyss, but I'd say they're stronger than Symphonia for the most part. Yuri Lowell is a likable lead character, and Rita is nice and snarky, but Karol can be annoying and Estelle is just far too pink for my liking.

The game has some very enjoyable dungeons, with puzzles that are just taxing enough to give you something to think about but not so hard as to have you get stuck. The plot is OK, but as is usually the case it's more the way the cast of characters interact with each other throughout the cut scenes and the many optional skits that really keep you entertained. Once I get all the way to the end and complete the game, I will come back with a full review.

There are also a few other Tales games that I need to investigate - I've been interested in Legendia for the PS2 for a while now as it sounds very different from the rest of the series. It was developed by some of those responsible for the Soul Calibur series for one thing, and the structure of the plot sounds fascinating. For the first half of the game you follow one character, and the second half of the game is made up of a series of character quests whose length adds up to roughly the same as the first. I have seen it for about £20 on eBay in the past, but a quick look recently only brought up two copies, both of which were selling for £50, which is a bit much for me right now. There's also Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, a Wii sequel to the Gamecube classic (read my ancient review here). I've played a fair bit of this already, but will probably start over when I get around to going back to it again.

Finally, there's Tales of Graces F, and Tales of Xillia. The first is a PS3 port of a very buggy Japan only Wii game, which fixes the myriad problems with the original release and upscales the graphics. Apparently it is looking quite likely that it will get a US release at least, so I should be able to import it. The fate of an English port of Xillia is still unknown, but hopefully it should come over eventually.

I usually find I need a little break from the series after playing through one Tales game, as most of them are actually pretty similar in terms of style and mechanics, but I would like to play through the rest of the games in the series I've yet to complete yet. I'll probably intersperse them with other games, such as Rogue Galaxy, Wild Arms 5, and the two Shadow Hearts sequels. I would say I have enough RPG's in my collection to keep me playing for quite a few years. Will that stop me from buying more though? Er... no. Speak to you again soon.

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