A new month, a new game I am playing. Tales of Vespeira is my current time sink, and what an enjoyable one it is! Actually I have been playing this game since April off and on; one free rental coupon per month makes it hard to get really into a game. I was finally able to pick up a used copy of Tales and immerse myself in the story. And what a story it is! I am getting close to the final boss and I have already played the game for almost 60 hours, and I skipped a ton of side quests and events. Once I finish this play-through I plan on doing it all over again and getting that 100% completion I am so fond of.
At first I was leery about playing this game because, while I like watching the occasional anime, I cannot stand cell shaded games. I hate it when a game uses all of this wonderful technology to make everything look 2-D. I was convinced to give this game a try by my local game store employee and friend, C. I was debating between Tales, Devil May Cry 4, and The Last Remnant and asked the opinion of C, who likes many of the same games I do. C said to try Tales because I like RPGs and it has a really good story, but don’t expect achievements from it. So I gave it a whirl and ended up using the April, May, June, and July free renal coupons on it; Jack was irritated with this because he wanted to play Hot Wheels.
There are many things to enjoy about this game:
The storyline is deep and immersive with a few unexpected twists. There is nothing completely out of the blue and extraordinary about this story, but like a favorite children’s story, you just want to hear it anyways. None of the villains are all that bad, and not all of the “good guys” are pure and innocent. It does a very good job of representing the grey areas of morality that are more accurate representations of what people actually have to deal with.
There are titles and items that your characters can get to change their outfits and accessories. While this seems superficial, it is so much fun to be able to have the main character wear a black fedora or mustache and pipe. It makes things different; yay for variety in costume! (I am such a girl!)
Combat is easy and intuitive. A jPRG with real time combat seems like it should be against the rules, but it works very well in Tales. The controls are easy to learn and the battle tutorial is smoothly integrated into the story of the game. The spontaneous monster encounters are also avoidable because you can see the monsters and simply walk around them. This is a big thing for me because, sometimes I am just trying to get to a save point fast!
There are also some things that just bugged the crap out of me in the game:
The forced dialogue sections require you to hit a button after each person speaks. This really cramped my style because I always used those sections to make a bathroom break or refill the snacks and beverage. Yes, my place is small enough that I could still hear the game while not in front of the TV. By having to hit the button after each sentence (and some of these conversations were loooooong) I missed my usual pit stops and had to make artificial interruptions in the game-play to perform these necessary activities. The button pushing also made the conversations halting, which really breaks the game trance.
The map was very difficult. While I am happy to have a mini-map on screen while traveling, The big map was constantly referenced to see where I was, and usually where I needed to go. The big map, while you could zoom it, did not do much good because you could not highlight the name of the place by scrolling over. You had to select it from a list next to the map (and the list was big) and know if the area you were looking for was a city, dungeon, or field. Finally, there was no clear indication of where you needed to go next in the storyline. Many hours did I spend wandering around the map looking for a city.
Tales has so many little details and events that you must see and do to get all of the achievements, I would say that a guide is necessary for 100% completion. If you just want to enjoy the game, then don’t stress over it. I am using GameFAQs for my general guide and then 360Achievements for my achivement guide. Honestly, I did not use them this first play-through very much, but I am going to be using them like crazy the second and maybe third time through.
In summation, I thought that this was a very well made game with an immersive story. My main gripe is the endless dialog that requires button pushing to further it along; if that was changed I would think this was the best game I have played all year. If you have at least 50 hours that you want to dedicate to a good RPG, then pick the game up. As I learned, renting this game does not work very well.