Poor Tales. Even though it’s one of the longest running RPG series, it has never really gotten much fame in North America. Whenever people use examples of the RPG genre, the series always seems to get left out. This year, however, Tales is getting a jump on the competition with one of the first JRPGs on the 360, Tales of Vesperia. Is this the effort to finally break it into the mainstream, or will it be a forgotten and disappointing yarn?
The first thing you notice when you start Tales of Vesperia is how beautiful its cel-shaded graphics are. At first it seems as if you’re in a cut scene or an episode of an anime, but incredibly the entire game is styled like this. Colors are incredibly vibrant and pop from your screen (especially if you’re playing on an HD monitor). Many of the environments are simply beautiful. Early on in the game you visit a stunning forest area that is popping with pastel-like colors. With the great style and beautiful score from composers Motoi Sakuraba and Hibiki Aoyama, environments can become very serene. The voice acting in the game is very impressive. A good amount of characters have voices, the majority of which sound unique and realistic to the character. Like past Tales games, there are skits in the game. In Vesperia, these skits are very frequent and are all voiced. The skits usually aren’t helpful to what you’re doing, but act as an entertaining and funny diversion from the main storyline.
The characters in Tales of Vesperia are interesting and likeable. Sure, like most RPGs they aren’t the most original, but even when they’re being cliché you can’t help but like them. You play as Yuri Lowell, a witty and sarcastic guy who has a heart beneath his hilariously sassy exterior. You’ll meet up with other characters like the cute and naive heroine, Estelle, and the badass dog, Repede. Usually when a dog is the coolest character in a game, something is wrong, but this isn’t the case in Tales of Vesperia. The spunk that Repede has works really well and plays perfectly off the other characters. In a lot of scenes he’ll make funny grunts or facial expressions when someone says something annoying or dumb.
The gameplay has always been the most unique part of the Tales series. The Tales of Vesperia battle system is nearly the same as the versions from Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss. When you approach an enemy, instead of simply going into a turn-based attack sequence, the game becomes a real-time fighting game. You deliver simple combos or powerful skills you learn throughout the game. Even though it’s not as deep as fighting games like Soul Calibur or Tekken, it makes for a very fun way to battle.
Tales of Vesperia is a great way to kick off the Tales series in this generation of gaming. The graphics are stunning, the characters are interesting and the game is simply really fun to play. Hopefully, this will be the game that gets the Tales series noticed by people who think Final Fantasy VII was the last good RPG in gaming.
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360