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Tales of Graces f review

Highly regarded over in Japan as one of the stronger RPGs but rarely heard of on our shores, the Tales of series has had a steady slew of releases since the original Tales of Phantasia back in the mid 90's. Whilst this is not exactly a new release, having appeared on the Wii previously, this is an enhanced westernised version for the PlayStation 3, Tales of Grace f and it is still a great Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG).

Set in the lands of Ephinea, we join a young group of friends led by headstrong Asbel as they participate in some small adventures, discovering a strange girl struck with amnesia and later meeting up with a Prince, all joining together for some further adventures and learning all about friendship along the way. Following an attempt on the Prince's life, Richard, Asbel and the amnesiac girl (now called Sophie) take a vow to be the best of friends. All seems well until the Prince's life is again threatened, with the friends all trying but failing to help defend each other from a strange phantom. Upon regaining consciousness and learning of the fate of his friends, Asbel vows to become a Knight so that he will not fail in protecting his loved ones again. Now to be frank, this first act really drags but it does set up quite a unique friendship that is uncommon in games like this. Rush forward seven years and the game ramps up the pace, unlocking a lot more in terms of tension, storyline and battles as friendships are tested and war is declared through the lands.

As RPG's go the general layout of gameplay is standard, you have your field areas where you run around from point to point, discovering new areas with plenty of towns folk to talk to and play through Skits (short talking head moments that offer a little more story), running into monsters and other enemies along the way which then takes you to the 3D battle screen.

The actual battles are a little more hands on than the usual RPG fare, with you taking direct control of Asbel and commanding the rest of your party to get down and dirty and fight or hang back, defend and heal from a safe distance. There are three ways to control Asbel during battles, Full, Auto or Manual which can be changed at any point depending on how you want to fight; with Full carrying out most of the action on your behalf, Auto will have you press attack to start and then the AI will control certain aspects like running up to the enemy, though this mode has tendency to keep on fighting when you want to move away and regain some health. The most favourable is manual mode where you are in charge of movement and attack. Asbel moves in a direct line towards the targeted enemy, using blocks and dodges to avoid contact whilst you use cross and circle buttons to attack. All attacks are based on CC (Chain Capacity) which quickly recharges, allowing you to pull off large combos or one off special moves. Assault Artes are your common combo moves with four tiers that can be used, each one requiring a position on the left stick and press of the cross button, with the amount of CC you have available allowing for longer strings of moves; which can then be mixed with Burst Artes that are more powerful one off moves.

The levelling up is also a little different as each character has a Title that you can award them; with each Title there are five bonuses available that unlock the more you wear them, boosting different areas like more powerful moves to improved vitality. These Titles are interchangeable, allowing you to focus on certain areas at any given time.

Control of Asbel and the other characters is quite easy, made more helpful with plenty of training opportunities, tips popping up after battles and even talking to cats and dogs, who with a silver glint in their eyes impart little gems of information. Equipment and items are shared and dealt with in an easy to use menu system and even the crafting, in which there are two ways, Duelizing and using an Eleth Mixer is so simple that even I used it.

When it comes to anime games engines Namco Bandai usually nail the looks and Tales of Grace f is no different, even though it is an enhanced Wii game. The in-game graphics manage to look like a 3D anime, hosting the usual strange haircuts and huge eyes associated with the genre and whilst there are obvious transitions from the 3D graphics engine to the more traditional 2D anime, it works really well and never spoils the atmosphere.

An interesting addition and something you do not usually have included in RPG's is some action away from the main story in the way of Trails of Graces; a collection of 27 challenges that put your team against a selection of enemies, gradually getting harder depending on how far you have progressed in the story. Sadly there are no online leader boards to compare with other players but is still a fun break none the less.

Tales of Graces f struggles through the first act, setting up all of the main players and their friendship but once past the five hour mark the game improves massively, making it very hard to put down thanks to the great presentation and its original take on 3D fighting.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

Review Policy (Version tested: PS3)

Edited On 07 Sep, 2012

( 3 )
no47's avatar
no47 4 years ago
Great review! I'll be picking this up soon as i'm nearly finished my playthrough on Tales of the Abyss on the 3DS. I love JRPG's/RPG's in general, and this looks like a great addition to the Tales series.
PrometheusFan's avatar
PrometheusFan 4 years ago
"Whilst this is not exactly a new release, having appeared on the Wii previously," In Japan only, in a badly bugged release from what I hear. The PS3 version adds an obscene amount of new content over what the Wii version had.
skooks's avatar
skooks 4 years ago
Glad to see a positive review as the others I've seen have been very mixed, and this is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I don't want to be disappointed! I love the Tales games, the art style is gorgeous and the battle system is solid. Can't wait to get stuck into this one.

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