Sunday, 9 March 2014

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles Review

Symphony Of Destruction 

10 Years ago Namco released an almost game changing title on the Gamecube known as Tales of Symphonia. The first Tales Of game to release on European shores, TOS took the RPG world by storm & gave the Gamecube it's must have RPG way back in 2004.

2014 is the year, since then we have seen a semi-steady stream of Tales of titles, from the fantastic Vesperia to the often mind numbing Graces F we are certainly seeing more of this series all thanks to the wall smashing début of Symphonia. So to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the highest rated & most loved title Namco have decided to HD & re-release not only the original title but the Wii follow up that released a few years later. 

How does it hold up now it's in double figures? lets find out!/ 

Tales of Symphonia 

With little dispute this is the main attraction & the first port of call with this collection, the legendary 2004 RPG from the Gamecube blasting into 2014 with HD treatment & a few extras to help you along. 

Staring Lloyd Irving, Half dwarf hero with two swords. Anyone who is familiar with the Tales of series will of seen something with this guys face. Set in the fantasy world of Sylvarant Lloyd goes on a quest with his friends Genis & Colette accompanied by their teacher Raine & mysterious mercenary Kratos. 
This quest spans the entire world in hopes of regenerating Sylvarant and ridding the world of the vile human enslaving Desians. In typical RPG fashion nothing is quite as it seems and Symphonia is anything but a simple A to B story, with twists and shocking scenes throughout Symphonia's 10 year old tale is still head and shoulders above many RPGs released over the past decade. 

One thing I feel that should be noted is that like most classic RPGs the pacing is brilliant, a common problem I have found amongst this generation is pacing. In Symphonia the story is always going somewhere interesting and doing something, rare are any moments of "just explore this area until the next massive story change".

Graphically things aren't as solid as the story.  These are 10 year old visuals that have been touched up to help the transition to the HD format. First thing that stands out is that they used the Ps2 version of Symphonia which came out a few years later and needed cutting down a little to fit on one DVD. The colours just aren't as vibrant as they are on the 'Cube version, also the character models had a thick black outline which made them look cel shaded which is unfortunately gone. What this has left is dull looking lifeless character models compared to what they used to be. 
The character designs might be not for everyone either, using a "Super deformed" style everyone looks quite small which causes the older characters to look like children with facial hair and walking sticks!.
Facial expressions & character movement is also quite aged, the faces look dull and shaded on & are pretty limited especially compared to later titles & movement often looks stiff and awkward. I will say that this feels minor because after an hour of play you don't notice the super deformed style or the lack of visual polish once you start to explore the vivid world this game is set in.  

The world map is another product of it's time, a sad thought really when World Maps have become something of a rarity. It's a strange one, Lloyd becomes Godzilla sized and the camera is quite questionable especially at first when you spend most of the map looking at Lloyd's behind!.
Despite what I have mentioned it still holds up really well especially for it's age, I always find Pixel & Cel Shaded based games age miles better that their peers. Consider this as you will like a classic book, a product of it's time, worn and aged but still has a unique charm.

The battle system used in the Tales of series has always been real time & as such is the case here. You can block attacks for minimal damage if employed at the right time & unleash combo attacks. Special attacks consume the MP meter & more defence & offence options open to you the further you progress in this tale. I must come out & say that I have never been a huge fan of any of the battle systems Tales of has used and it's continued with this one. I don't mind it but I have yet to feel comfortable with it unlike other games but that is just a personal preference from myself.

As I have previously mentioned it's best to compare this game to a classic novel, it's aged and dated but it's contents are timeless and shouldn't have any issue grabbing any RPG fan looking for some vintage action. The battle system may not be for everyone but the story and setting for me transcended that & I have had the pleasure of coming back to this game 10 years apart & both times feeling fresh and enjoyable.

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn Of The New World 

The second & final title on his HD collection & follow up to TOS it's Dawn Of The New World. Originally releasing on the Wii in 2008 this is often one of the more overlooked and ignored titles of the Tales Of series, considering this is a follow up to the most popular it's a curious thing.

Emil Castagnier is the main character in this one, set a couple of years after the events of TOS this game shows just exactly what happened after TOS (I won't be saying due to spoilers). You don't really have to have played TOS to play DOTNW, you will miss little bits of story and subtle references but it's mostly a stand alone story. The main cast seem fairly unaware of the events that had previously transpired & when the original cast turn up they aren't too interested in catching this lot up.

Unfortunately the story for this game just isn't that good, made worse by the fact it's packaged with the gem of TOS. The main cast for this game are quite unlike-able and Emil is just a horrid main character who does little more than sulk, whine & apologise his way through the story. The story is just riddled with every cliché you have come to expect from RPGs & nothing really in the way of ground breaking plot twists or story telling. Everything about it just seems a little flat which is a shame considering what they had to work with.

Graphically it isn't a whole lot better than Symphonia which is strange considering the gap between them, the menus and maps are crisp but unfortunately the world seems dull & lifeless. You don't feel as compelled to explore it as you did with the previous adventure. Character models are a little better in this one and don't seem as stiff which does make it a little more visually appealing but not the giant leap you would of expected.

A new system to this is the monster capture system. It is exactly as it sounds on the tin, Namco chose this title to try and capitalise on the monster capture craze that has taken over RPGs since Pokemon. It's a nice little distraction as you work through the 200 monsters to try and find the one that suits your party's needs. This leads us onto the battle system.
As above I am not huge on the system Tales of uses in any of the games but I did enjoy this system more than the original. You have more freedom on the field so defence is a little easier to play, plus you have ontop of Special attacks and combo attacks you also have a Unison attack which helps you out in battle. It's just a quick as TOS but slightly more enjoyable which is a redeeming factor for this game. Unfortunately the A.I at times can drive you mad making stupid choices and the like but this is a common thing for most RPGs where you can't control the whole party (Even you Persona 4!).

Another change for this game is the world map, they have taken it away! opting to go for the more modern Point to Point system it doesn't really do anything to help this game along. You visit alot of towns and dungeons throughout this lengthy adventure but as something I have found with the more modern Tales of games the dungeons are often uninspired and dull.

Unfortunately that last comment really seems to sum this title up, I'm not sure why but everything about this title just lacks the basic magic of a good RPG, especially when stacked against Symphonia. They should of pulled out everything to make this just as good instead all it has going for it is a Monster Capture system and a decent battle system. Everything else is just a let down, including the original cast, it's a playable title just doesn't stack up at all.


Overall what we have here is a Ying-Yang title, on one hand we have a classic RPG, one of the greats that everyone should atleast try once. On the other hand we have it's lazy and in consistent younger brother, has good ideas but falls short of the mark. It drags the package down, alongside the lack of extras it isn't the greatest HD remastering especially as it launched at full price.

Who Should Buy This? 

  • Fans of the original release
  • Fans of Tales Of
  • Someone looking for a classic RPG & isn't bothered with up to date graphics
Who Should Avoid This?

  • Fans of turn based RPGs
  • Anyone wanting something testing the graphical limits of the PS3
  • Not a fan of classic RPGs? forget about it!/


"Fantastic feature title brought down by it's follow up, lack of bells and whistles make it hard to justify the price tag for this 10 year old RPG even if it is a gem" 

(As a final note I believe you can just buy TOS on its own from the PSStore. That on it's own garners a 9. It's the additions and the price tag that bring the physical package down)

No comments:

Post a Comment