Last Level Press

Review: Tales of Vesperia

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

“The blessings of the blastia will bestow ever more prosperity to the world and peace to its people.”

The people of Terca Lumireis live in fear of the monsters that crawl upon the world. Their only protection from the monster threat is an ancient technology called the blastia, mysterious devices that absorb a substance called aer to provide the people with basic necessities like water and fire to enforcing the barriers that defend entire cities. When a necessary blastia is stolen from a fountain that people depend on for fresh water, it is up to Yuri Lowell, a dropout of the Imperial Knights and vigilante, to get the blastia back and save the day! Of course, it’s never that simple. This is a Tales game, after all.

Right off the bat, it should be stated that this game is gorgeous. The use of cel-shading is brought back and makes everything look so bright, vivid, and other such adjectives to describe anything that isn’t the modern brown and gritty shades we seem to get far too often in games these days. Because we’re finally in the latest console generation, the character models are smooth, crisp, and look great. The hand drawn animation intro to the game, the movement of the characters, the backgrounds and models for the world, they’re all just wonderful to look at… and that’s really about it. The only real complaint I could give is that the characters, when they’re interacting and performing, are sometimes a bit stiff, and are limited simply by what they can do, but this isn’t much different from other RPGs, or even other genres, that you can find in the West or Japan. The visuals are just that strong, and are, for the lack of a better term, eye-candy.

As should be expected by now, Motoi Sakuraba is the man of the hour when it comes to composition but it seems appropriate that I bring this up now. If you recall from my Tales of Phantasia review, I had mentioned that Sakuraba has a distinctive style to his composition. This is something of a strength of his, as well as a detriment. While other famous game composers, like Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy) or Koji Kondo (The Legend of Zelda, Mario) have used callbacks to previous works, they also have made such varied songs that only a well-trained ear for music could discern if a piece was made by them or not. With Sakuraba, my lack of musical training or knowledge can distinguish him from these two other men. While his work is consistent and pleasing, it’s also nothing new. The voice work, on the other hand, is probably the best I’ve heard in a Tales game to date. In fact, the Skits that you can play while on the overworld are voiced (a trait it shares with only two others games in the series that have been dubbed in English) and really exemplifies how astounding the actors are for this game.

The battle mechanics are, what do ya know, the same as before but this time you’re thrown for a loop because now the B button is the basic attack and the A button executes your special attacks since this is on the Xbox 360 and that’s just how the button layout for the controller is. Don’t worry though, because you’ll forget about this little detail once you’ve done a few tutorial fights and it just comes naturally… unless this is the first Tales game you decide to play: then it’s irrelevant. The trusty old Linear Motion Battle System is back once again and, if you can say nothing else of the Tales series, it’s familiar enough to get into easily but different enough to learn how to use effectively. A nice added feature is that there are some battles which require you to interact with your environment rather than making the battle area seem like some alternate area everyone enters until the battle is over.

The game is… interesting, to say the least. The joke I made at the beginning has some kernel of truth in that the game is not as simple as getting back a stolen gem that controls water to help the poor. It morphs from a simple “I need to find this guy and get this thing back” into a power struggle that will impact the entire world and then into something even bigger than that. While you can say that about many games and their stories, it feels like the story can get all over the place, and leads you to think one thing but result in another. It also doesn’t help that much of the world feels empty. It is established that people don’t exactly travel and even that towns are being wiped out, but seeing as how there are two entire continents with incredibly few inhabitants, and one continent devoid of any civilization, it can feel like much of the world is wasted. Except for people who want to complete their bestiary or get other such completionist goals, there doesn’t feel like there’s any need to explore, and this is a terrible thing for any RPG. Fortunately, the game tried to counterbalance this with some interesting locales and dungeons to crawl through.

While it does some retreading of worn-out ground, Tales of Vesperia is still a fun game and certainly worth playing. This is especially true if you’re a JRPG fan like me, and own a 360; if you haven’t gotten this game yet, you should. My recommendation is to order the anniversary edition, which is more expensive but comes with a bonus disc containing music from previous games. But, if you’re like me and can’t afford it, you’re not missing out on anything like exclusive content related to the game. If you’re a person who doesn’t enjoy JRPGs, this might not change your mind since the story can be a bit haphazard, and the tropes of the genre are still abundant. If you want to play this game but don’t own a 360, I don’t think it’s especially wise to buy this system solely for the game… but seeing as how Japan had the console being sold out when Tales of Vesperia initially released, I could be wrong. And if you don’t want to play this game nor own a 360, thanks for the ad revenue.

Rating: 8.0

Visuals: 9
Audio: 8
Controls & Mechanics: 7
Atmosphere & Experience: 7
Entertainment Value: 9

  Consoles: (Xbox 360), PS3

  Developer: Namco Tales Studio

  Publisher: Namco Bandai/ Atari

  Release Date (U.S.): Aug 26, 2008

  Release Date (U.K.): Jun 26, 2009

  Release Date (JP): Aug 7, 2008

Final Verdict:


Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

Share this page:

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google Bookmarks
Share on Reddit
Share on Stumble Upon
Share on LiveJournal
Share on Digg
Share via e-mail
comments powered by Disqus