Just How Bad is Tales of the Abyss? (major spoilers)

Jaxel

Administrator

Well I had this thread over at SSR where I chronicled my illicit affair with this shitty game. But I was tired of referring people to that thread whenever I had to explain to them why Abyss is the WORST game in the entire Namco Tales series. I didn't want to force them to read usless comments from people in between my updates. So I'm quoting it all to here and re-organizing it. I also added a whole bunch of videos to make this post less boring. Original thread here.


Jaxel (December 07 said:
Anyone who has ever spoken to me, knows that I am a completionist and a series whore. If I like a game/anime series, I will do everything I can to find out, watch and play all that have to do with it. For me, the two series I am all up and about are the Dot Hack series and the Namco Tales series. I am a huge fan ofthe Tales series, dating back to its previous games on previous generations of consoles.

However, about a year ago, I tried to get through this game: Tales of the Abyss, but I simply couldn't. I just didn't like it and found it to be the worst Tales game I have ever played. But now, a year later I've decided to give it another go. I made it 14 hours in on the first try, but I've decided to start from scratch since I have completely forgotten everything about my first play-through. Since giving up on TotA, I have replayed various Tales games during this past year.

  • Tales of DESTINY - this was the first Tales game I ever played, and surprisingly for me, it didn't last the test of time. It used to be one of my beloved games, but this last time I could barely get through it.
  • Tales of ETERNIA - this game is sometimes called Tales of Destiny 2 because of its American monochre... Wow, this game however, did survive the test of time! Easily moving it up to the spot of the best Tales game I have ever played...
  • Tales of DESTINY 2 - this game has never come out in America, so I really couldn't get through it because it was all in Japanese. But from what I hear, its the best in the series.
  • Tales of FANDOM 1 - as with Tales of Destiny 2, its in Japanese...
  • Tales of LEGENDIA - dont let ANYONE tell you otherwise! This is an AMAZING game. Far better than anything Tales of Symphonia ever had to offer; but because ToS was Nintendo and ToL was Sony, in America, the Nintendo fanboys had to argue it was better than ToL. This game takes flak because unlike most other Tales games, it doesn't have multiplayer. However, it stills moves up to #2 in the Tales series for me due to its amazing story and by far the best combat engine in any Tales game yet.
Now, after playing those five games during the past year, I'm back to Tales of the Abyss, and I have put up this thread in the hopes of chronicling my illicit affair with the game. So far, one hour into the game I already have a series of complaints...

  • I am playing the game on a new disc, so a lot of the lag and stutter issues I had last year were resolved. However, the game still manages to have some massive framerate drops in the overworld field map. As a consequence, it takes far too long to rotate the camera directions!
  • Coming off of Persona 3... it had the option to auto-go through conversations. If two characters were speaking to each other for 15 minutes, I could put my controller down and watch it happen. However, in TotA, this option is missing; during these long cutscenes, I have to constantly push X every 5 seconds to advance the conversations. Its annoying, especially when these scenes are voiced over so they could simply automatically advance themselves.
  • The Tales series has optional cutscenes that are activated with the select button, they have been a staple to the series since the PSX days. However, in TotA, these scenes are NOT voiced over; and you CANT advance the conversations with the X button like the normal cutscenes. From what I hear, in the Japanese version, these scenes were voiced over, so essentially the scenes advanced themselves; however, in the American version, it could be a 5 minute scene where you read text, with no music and no voice overs... so you read a line, wait 10 seconds for the next line to show up and then wait again. So the scenes with voice overs, you MUST push X to advance the conversations, even though you would rather it advanced on its own... and the scenes with no voice overs, you CANT push X to advance the conversations and are forced to WAIT and WAIT and WAIT for it to advance on its own... ass backwards.
  • Titles? WTF? No titles? Normally, you read the optional cutscenes to get titles... so now the optional cutscenes are not only a pain in the ass, but beyond giving you story elements, completely worthless...
  • Kage the Wonderchef? Seriously, NO ONE liked Mimi the Wonderchef in Tales of Legendia... "oh hey! no one has been in this dungeon in over 5,000 years!... oh! hey! its Mimi the Wonderchef!". However, the Wonderchef has been a Tales staple from the beginning, to have a Tales game without a Wonderchef is to have a Final Fantasy without Cid. And even though no one liked Mimi, she is easily the most memorable Wonderchef of them all.
  • 3D fighting engine. WTF... has moving from 2D to 3D ever worked? This 3D combat engine is a pain, it makes it extremely frustrating to do combos and there is no real reason for it since its not really 3D at all. Tales of Legendia did it right; 2D with the Climax and monster massing system.
  • I would rather they be emo... I don't mind my characters being emo, hell, I love FF8, even though Squall was one emo motherfucker... but Luke isn't emo; he's just a fucking moron.
Yes, most of these are small complaints, but they add up to ruin the entire experience... The fact that the Japanese version had voice overs in the optional cutscenes is chalked up to laziness on the part of Namco localization. Yet another reason on why I've lost respect for them these past few years. Hopefully Bandai can turn things around... That being said, there are a few things about the game I do like...

  • The best intro to a Tales game ever made!
  • No random battles! Woohoo! Tales of Destiny had small scenes where there were no random battles, instead you would run from onscreen enemies, but it always reverted back eventually. No random battles is the shit!
  • Kage the Wonderchef? Yes! I know, its a positive and a negative at the same time... but did I mention Mimi the Wonderchef was fucking annoying?!

More updates as I play through.


Jaxel (December 08 said:
Marauder said:
Where the skits are concerned, if you don't like em, no prob you can always press START to skip them altogether. And if you actually like some of them, on your second playthrough, you can view all of them. Even the ones you have never seen.
Umm... no. Skits are there for a reason, they add elements to plotline and help give depth to otherwise flat characters. The characters in this game are extremely flat, cliched and boring, just like the characters in Tales of Legendia... the skits help fix that. Without the skits, the game suffers. Unfortunately, unlike other Tales games, with the skits, the game suffers.

You never got into the skits, because they are fucking boring in Tales of the Abyss... seriously! You spend 5 minutes waiting for it to move to the next line... No voice overs and not even any background music! Skits have been in since Tales of Eternia and are important for developing an interest for the characters. I love the characters in Tales of Legendia and Eternia, simply because the skits allowed me to do such things. Hell, I hate Norma in Legendia because of the skits; they were designed to make her as annoying as possible; because she's an annoying bitch! But at the same time, they make it so important to use her because she's the most powerful person in the game. It throws in this sort of moral dilemma into your gameplay and I love it.

Marauder said:
Battle System - I honestly have no problem with the Battle System. Free Run is a very welcome addition. The part about comboes being a pain prolly only applies to you (no offence) cause strings are no issue for me.
Sorry, 2D is simply more fun. Especially when later in the 2D games when you get skill boxes. Skill boxes in previous games let you map your skills to button sequences... IE qcf (236), ff (66), srk (623) and other street fighter type combat moves. And the FOF shit is just fucking annoying to the point of being not worth the effort. But I'll give you, the battle system is a purely subjective opinion and will differ from player to player. Besides, I said the combo system was frustrating, not hard; I like to conserve my SP and you are forced to output way too much SP in order to keep a combo going.

As for a challenge... holy shit, the final boss in the main story of Tales of Legendia, the boss Nerifes. The Tales games have always been easy, which is why I always play them on hard mode, and even then, they are still easy. But holy shit, no battle in the entirety of the Tales series prepares you for the Nerifes battle. Easy the hardest battle in Tales history... Unfortunately, I cant find any good videos of the battle on youtube, except for people abusing the stun system in the game which makes the battle painfully easy when you carry around a billion SP regenerating gels and spam stunning arcane arts.

Current order of favorites for the Tales series...
TOE > TOL > TOS > TOD > TOTA

Yes, Tales of Symphonia has moved up a spot after my recent playthrough of Tales of Destiny which brought it down a spot; it doesnt survive the test of time, but based on my original playthrough, I would rate it higher than Tales of Symphonia. Symphonia moves up on the list at no merit to itself, but because my recent playthrough of Tales of Destiny just bored me to tears. I dunno, I've become spoiled and I need voice-overs. Thankfully the voices in the Tales series are not excruciating, and at worst case, it uses the ADX sound system, so I can undub it and put the Japanese voices in much the same way we customize the soundtrack for Narutimate Hero.

Dont get me wrong, Symphonia and Abyss are by no means horrible games; just as Final Fantasy X is by no means a horrible game. Its just that in comparison to other games in the series, they are trash. If FF6-8 didnt exist, than FFX would be considered a shining beacon of amazing gameplay. If TOE and TOL didnt exist, I'm sure TOS and TOTA would be considered just the same. It just goes to show you how amazing the Namco Tales series actually is... far better than anything Final Fantasy has ever cooked up. This is the main reason why I am being open minded about Tales of the Abyss and giving it another chance.


Jaxel (December 08 said:
Well I'm several hours into TotA and I am already fed up with the English voices... I have since switched to the Japanese voices... which are MUCH better...

Fon Master Ion... voiced by Chopper, Gash Bell and Konohamaru famed Otani Ikue
Tear... voiced by Teletha Testarossa from Full Metal Panic
Guy... voiced by Kakashi? Definately Jean Havoc from Fullmetal Alchemist
Jade the Necromancer... the voice is so familiar, coud it be Il Palazzo?
Sync the Tempest... also voiced by Otani Ikue
Arietta the Wild... voiced by Kaname Chidori from Full Metal Panic
Dist the Reaper... voiced by Franky (One Piece), Takeda the Puncher (Kenichi)
Largo the Black Lion... voiced by Ninja Master Gaara from Bastard

and a whole bunch of other familiar voices..


Jaxel (December 09 said:
Well my endevour is over... I cant tolerate this piece of shit game anymore...

The AI for my group members is just fucking retarded... I tell them... only use 25%, except when healing and never ever use items... But I am in battle and they are constantly using items! Then, when they are low on mana, instead of saving up their mana for the next heal... they fucking spend it on offensive attacks! WTF! Not to mention, even when I am hitting the shortcut triggers telling them explicitly to heal... they dont fucking heal! And of course, my item pool is empty... cause you know why? They are using my items!

This game is horribly programmed and I cant tolerate it anymore. TotA is dead to me. I played it FIFTEEEN hours a year ago... and FIVE hours this time... thats a combined TWENTY hours... I gave the game a chance... it sucked and has sucked the entire time I was playing it.

When I had played a year ago, I stopped after 15 hours because I just wasn't enjoying it compared to the previous Tales games. Now the previous Tales games I had not played in years before hand, so I probably lasted 15 hours due to the fact that they were a distant memory... However, this time playing, I do have recent memories of three other Tales games, games far better than this one. So I basically have a side by side comparison of the quality of this game compared to the quality of others... and this game, just sucks.


Jaxel (December 11 said:
Well I've gone back to Tales of the Abyss, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job at putting its faults behind me... however, there are still a few issues I am having problems with...

1. Running off the game disc, with is dubbed, the game has excrutiatingly long load times; especially when loading into the laggy as shit overworld map. When I undubbed it, I installed it to my hard drive; however, the game is so fucking buggy that the game freezes about every 30 battles when running off the HD. From what I have read about the game, it does have freezing issues, even when running off the original disc. Namco was really lazy with this one...

2. Does it seem like the game has to save TWICE? First of all, I need to save often, for the fear of freezing issues. However, saving takes a long time, about 10 seconds; which is a long time and it really breaks the fourth wall with the game at inoppurtune times. As well, it seems like it saves twice, the "now saving" screen shows up, then it disappear, than reappears again.

3. I was forced to switch to normal difficulty. Since the AI doesnt listen to me, on hard, it was IMPOSSIBLE to manage my healer's TP. Even when I have completely TURNED OFF every arte and setting shortcuts to cast spells, Tear was still casting offensive spells! EVEN WHEN THEY WERE TURNED OFF! Once again, seems like extremely poor programming on Namco's part.

4. Resale prices... you buy an item for 2000 gald, and you only get like 200 gald back when you sell it... WTF? I understand there is a market system, but thats too extreme.

However, there are a few things I do like about the game...

1. You get TP back for each physical hit you do on the opponent... Great for fighters, useless for my healers and spellcasters though.

2. Tech skills. Tech skills are awesome! Someone knocks you down, with good reaction time you can do a quick recover ukemi and move back on.


Jaxel (December 12 said:
Okay... I am now 20 hours into Tales of the Abyss, and I think that is more than enough time for anyone to believe my opinions on this game now count. I have had more than enough experience with the game to make valid arguements; even though I haven't finished the game, I imagine I will sometime this week. But now, 20 hours into the game, here are my current findings...

This game is TRASH. Yes, the game does bother to keep many of the core Namco Tales Series mechanics, for that I like; and it is probably that reason alone I am still playing it. When it comes down to it, the Namco Tales Series mechanics to me, are the best RPG mechanics ever made and it works to make this truely lackluster game into something more than it is...

That being said, the various issues I mentioned in previous posts still stand up... A myriad of graphical, mechanical and gamebreaking glitches still plague my game. The laggy overworld issue has become even worse with the acquirement of a high speed airship (one of the few airships in recent memory from a Tales game). But that not withstanding, the major is still the unresponsive AI. I have spoken with other people who have told me they as well had problems programming the actions of their party members; with characters using spells that are completely disabled... as well as activating over limits when you have them set to "save it".

(dont tell us me I am doing something wrong, because I am a hard core gamer, I explore and super customize all my options in every game I play; all my settings are set correctly for all combat macros and action protos; not to mention I have been playing Tales games since the PSX and I am well versed in their mechanics, as well as how to force all my party members to JUMP at the same time; a command most players dont even know exist!)

Now the Namco Tales series has always been known for its spectacular animated sequences. The PSX games were animated by the now illustrious Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, Places Promised in our Early Days). They were amazing, even with PSX graphics. However, the animation sequences in this game are by far the worst I have ever seen in a Tales game; even worse than those crappy heavy lined, canned animations from Tales of Symphonia. I imagine the waterbrush effect they included during the Kimlasca-Landvear/Malkuth War was meant to give it a rugged, fast paced disordered combat effect... it works more to give a rugged, fast paced disordered animation effect. It looks lazy and I cant imagine how it ever went through Q&A. But seeing as how buggy this game is; and how the bugs were NOT fixed for the American version, I imagine there was no Q&A to begin with. (featues were actually taken OUT of the American version)

But on to the story and the actual game. The puzzles barely deserve the word. They are essentialy fetch quests and offer no sorts of intellectual stimulation. Just about the only real semblance of puzzle I have seen in this game would be the storehouse stocking missions where you REARRANGE BOXES! The puzzles are a far cry from the three staff puzzle that led into The Tower of Druaga in Tales of Destiny.

The story itself confuses me to no end... most likely due to an EXTREMELY bad translation job that does more to confuse you than explain a purpose to your mission. This is an paraphased conversation from the game:
  • "OMG! The Albiore I has crashed into the mountain! The only way to get to where it is, would be to take the Albiore II and fly up to it to rescue the pilot."
  • "Okay, we will rescue the pilot for you if we can borrow the Albiore II!"
  • "GREAT! When you get back from rescuing the pilot, we will give you the Albiore II!"
Wait? Didn't they JUST SAY that the only way to get to the pilot was with the Albiore II? Shouldn't you give me the Albiore II BEFORE I go to rescue the pilot? Since you just said I would need it? I chalke that up to a crappy translation job... as well as the issue I have with a 35 year old KING saying... and I quote... "THANKS, DUDE!"

But forget translations, lets talk about the actual story...

-----

The Princess Natalia and the Duke Luke von Fabre of Kimlasca-Landvear go to Akzeruith (in Malkuth enemy territory) to give aid and support. While they are there, Akzeruith gets wiped off the face of the map; it is assumed Natalia and Luke were dead. Kimlasca believes that Natalia and Luke were assassinated by the Malkuth empire; Malkuth believe Natalia and Luke attacked Akzeruith (with their military entourage of course) in an outright act of war. However, Natalia, Luke an their party know the truth, that it as a third party, the religion faction with Van who destroyed Akzeruith.

Their party consists of not only two Kimlascan nobels, but the LEADER of the religion faction who could condemn his subordinates,... as well as a Malkuth COLONEL. But for some odd reason they decide AGAINST going to their respective leaders with efforts to stop the war. Even though Kimlasca is going to war over the assassination of two members of the royal family, they feel it would be pointless to show up alive in Kimlasca; they dont believe it would stop the war because a rebelious member of the religious faction who is trying to start war (and is partly responsible for Akzeruith) has the King's ear. They believe this fact so much that they actually are afraid of being discovered as alive and hide out!

Wait... what? The king's daughter is assumed to be assassinated, so they are going to war. Showing up in front of the king, telling him that you are ALIVE... and not only that you are alive, but the man who claims to be the king's finest advisor was responsible for the disaster in Akzeruith... Not to mention, Malkuth Colonel Jade Curtiss, one of the most respected and feared men in the Malkuth military, showing up in front of his king, King Peony, who is also Jade's BEST FRIEND... telling the king that the tradgedy was started by a rebellious faction of the religious leaders, not Kimlasca... These things wont prevent war?

Then later in the game, they are in the airship overlooking the battle and Natalia has the BALLS to ask "Why?". Why did it have to come to war? BECAUSE YOUR FATHER, THE KING, THINKS YOU ARE DEAD! ASSASSINATED BY THEIR ENEMY! WTF is wrong with you people! Originaly I thought Luke was a fucking moron. I would like to change that. Luke isn't a moron, he's just a niave kid. However, everyone else in his party... FUCKING MORONS.

BTW... whe Natalia had the nerve to ask "WHY?"... I turned my console off. I didn't even bother saving. I'll get back to the game tommorow.


Jaxel (December 13 said:
So now I am 25 hours into the game and a few more issues down the road...

- Running through the swamp is one of the worst things I can ever remember doing in an RPG. Remember how laggy the overworld screen was? Now, combine that with the games oh so amazing water affects (hint: sarcasm) with the swamp, and the game slows to a crawl. As well, there is some epic monster in the area, that you can't kill. You CAN kill it, its easy, but the game tells you that you cant, and when you kill the monster, instead of it dying, it forces you to run away. So whenever you go near one of its spawn points, you have to run away. But the game doesnt give you time to runaway before the monster spawns again! So you end up having to run away from the same spawn point 4 times in a row, constantly loading into batle, escaping and reloading the overworld map...

- A lot more bad translations that leave me wondering what I'm supposed to do next... even though they just told me. As well, the actually game does not flow into the story. During a time of war, Grand Chokmah is supposed to lock down into a military fortress; making it impossible for anyone to get in or leave, except the military... its one of the reasons the main characters use for not going there to report to the king (Even though Jade is a Colonel in the Military)... However, when I actually do go to Grand Chokmah, its not locked down that hard... in fact, its not locked down AT ALL. People are strolling the streets, without a care in the world.

- Where the fuck do they come up with the names in this game?! SERIOUSLY! Vandesdelsca Musta Fende...Gailardia Galan Gardios... Natalia Luzu Kimlasca Lanvaldear... I imagine the reason they shorten their names is because even they cant pronounce them!

- How come, after you get the flightstone back from the AlbioreII, you can no longer land where you used to be able to land? I used to be able to land right outside Sheradin and walk right into the town, now I am forced to lower myself into the water and park at port Sheradin. I cant even land anywhere on the desert countryside anymore. WTF?

- This one is my favorite... "You blew up HOD! I'm going to take off your head!"... "Actually sir, I blew up HOD, you should take off MY head"... "Correction, WE blew up HOD, but its was actually MY doing, KILL ME instead".

- I FOUND THE WONDERCHEF! Yes, this game does have a wonderchef, but of course he's no longer wonderful. In a great inside joke, the wonderchef is just a random lame chef sitting on a bench in Grand Chokmah, lamenting to himself on how he lost his precious all-purpose-knife. If you are a Namco Tales fan, you of course know that one of the instruments that wonderchefs always flaunt throughout the series is their precious all-purpose-knife... especially the wonderchef from Tales of Eternia. I guess without his knife, he is nothing.

- Another thing I just noticed... until you get Light Spear Cannon, there are no good Artes in the game. My standard attacks do more damage per second than any other Arte, except Light Spear Cannon, and that is with FSC bonuses. So until you get Light Spear Cannon around level 44, there is no reason to use any Arte, except the occasion when you need to activate your special.


Jaxel (December 16 said:
This game is ENTIRELY TOO LONG... Seriously... you kill all the bad guys... and then you come back and find out... they may not have died at all. Its as if they ARTIFICIALLY extended the game.

Well I beat Tales of the Abyss today... And I can confidently say, withot any doubts... This was the second worst RPG I have ever finished...


Jaxel (December 24 said:
GracefulAssasin said:
What was the wost rpg? I want to see what you stack abyss with.
Saga Frontier... by far the worst RPG I have ever played. Something like 9 playable characters, and you MUST play all 9 of them to get the full story of the game. This of course means that the first few times you play it, you have absolutely no idea whats going on, nor do you have any idea what you have to do. There are a series of planets, and on each planet, there is a series of shops, and for each shop, a different thing happens during the morning, day and night. So of course, if you want to continue with the game, you need to be on the exact planet, in the exact shop, at the exact time of day in order to progress forward. The problem is, you have no idea where, what and when that is supposed to be. I assume if you played the game 8 times, then on the final 9nth time and character, it would all make sense... but who wants to play the same CRAPPY game 9 times over?


Jaxel (March 19 said:
So I just finished Tales of Phantasia... not 10 minutes ago... and... Wow...

I'm sorry Eternia, I'm sorry Destiny, I'm sorry Legendia... but Phantasia has officially moved to the top of the list and is now what I would consider the best Namco Tales game made yet. I've been playing the PSX version, as it has some major enhancements from the SNES/GBA versions; including a new combat system, refined cooking system, new dungeons, new characters, as well as balanced gameplay (bosses are harder, random mobs easier) and new techniques. After playing Phantasia, I think I've come to a conlusion on how you can accurately determine how good an old school RPG is.

It's actually pretty simple and I'm sure many of are already aware of it... Old school RPGs are not only extremely hard, with complicated puzzles, lots of backtracking and insanely high random battle rates (the PSX version actually has 1/2 the encounter rate as the SNES version, and even then, its still way too high). Keeping that in mind, when you get to the end of the game, would you be willing to stop the story and go back to complete all the side missions? Will you brave all backtracking and random battles just to say you've "completed" the game?

Thats what defines how good an old school RPGs; extra content in newer RPGs are trivial, since newer RPGs are very easy. But with the old school stuff, does your enjoyment of the game outweigh all the guaranteed frustration? For Tales of Phantasia Remake for the PSX? ABSOLUTELY. Even Tales of Destiny, the first Namco Tales game I ever played; for which I have the highest nostalgia factor... even the nostalgia factor wasn't enough to get me to do the extra content when I replayed it last year. Destiny did not survive the test of time...

Phantasia did. If you haven't played this game... an English translation patch for the PSX version was released by Absolute Zero in October. I recommend you pick it up; and bypass the SNES/GBA versions. I put this game on the level of FF6 and GU3


Jaxel (March 20 said:
For anyone interested in getting into Tales games, let me stress the importance of the :L1: button. The intentions of the :L1: button and its uses have never really been documented for any Tales game.

The :L1: controls the actions of your party members. Pressing :L1: once will tell them to hold their positions; pressing :L1: a second time will tell them to switch formation direction (from right facing to left facing and vice versa). In some Tales games, these controls are slightly changed. For instance, with Tales of the Abyss, it lets you program 4 different strategy options and you can cycle between them on the fly (since there is no formation setting in the 3D Tales games). In the newer 2D Tales games, pushing :R1: while holding :L1: will tell all of your characters to JUMP (to avoid ground based attacks like Tractor Beam or Earthquake).

Tales of Legendia is what I consider the best combat engine of all the Tales games... it took the :L1: to a whole new level of control; it was smoother and characters listened to you better. Its one of the reasons why I feel that, even though Tales is a single character game, it still "feels" like you are controlling every single one of your characters. Possibly one of the reasons why Legendia isn't multiplayer is because you would lose this sense of control. Very few Tales players actually use the :L1: button, so I can see why Legendia wasn't reviewed as high by anybody except the most dedicated of Tales Fanboys.


Oh, and before anyone asks... No, I have NOT played Tales of Vesperia yet. I am going to borrow my friend's 360 one of these days and pick up the game. However, the game does not look good from what I have seen. It looks like a carbon copy of Tales of the Abyss... Down to the same characters... Down to the same exact LBMS combat engine, with the stupid Fonon field garbage... Down to the BUGS and GLITCHES. I've seen trailer videos, and even though the game is next gen, I still see that battle load screen lag, as well as the choppy frame rate during the overworld map. From what I have also heard, the story is just as bad as Abyss.


The Tales game I am most looking forward to is Tales of Hearts on the DS... classic 2D combat engine FTW.
 

Syrpiektre

[09] Warrior
I'll agree that Abyss was the worst and Phantasia was the best, before Namco did the whole retcon on the thing and made it tied to Symphonia (gag). Abyss I wanted to beat myself over the head with for half of the game thanks to Luke, but I stuck through it because the Tales games are the only ones I can play with my younger sister. I am willing to bet that your standards for the series are higher than mine, so for now I'll just give you my quick impressions on Vesperia...

--Story... Meh, it's all right so far. Not spectacular or anything, but it's there, I guess.
--Characters... Despite Yuri being older than your standard JRPG protagonist, he is still prone to RPG-heroness >_> And if you didn't like the ditzy heroines before, Estelle will make you want to choke yourself. However...
--Script... For the most part the writing has been pretty good. There's a good sense of humor, though there are some exceptions (for the worse).
--Combat Engine... No fonon field crap thankfully, but it's still a crappy 3D engine. The way they do Skills now (inheriting them through using a weapon that includes the skill long enough) is a terrible way to advance. Right now, only the dog can throw items. WTF?! And we're past lvl20 now I think...
--Cutscenes are still user-advanced, but Skits are now voiced.
--Haven't run into any bugs yet... There isn't much slowdown for me on the world map so I don't know where you're seeing them.

Anyway these are just my impressions so far. IMO the only reason why I play Tales games is for the multiplayer, not the story. Other games have ruined me :P
 
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Jaxel

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Lol yeah... out of all RPG series out there... The Namco Tales series has always been my favorite for several reason. Mainly, it didn't have a history of several japanese rpg stigmas...

1. Japanese RPGs have a stigma of taking FOREVER to start up. You gotta play the game for a good 3 or 4 hours before you actually get into the story. In the past, no Tales games suffered from this stigma. In Phantasia, you leave your house, go out into the jungle and play with your best friend for 30 minutes, when you come back, everyone is DEAD! Story starts. In Destiny, you are a JANITOR on a space ship and the ship gets attacked by PIRATES! You pick up a broom stick and start kicking major ass! Story starts. Etc... I mean, this isn't some shitty Japanese RPG (cough, Square-Enix) where you gotta wander for hours just to even care.

2. The combat system in the Tales games have always been non-traditional. 2D, brawler/fighter style combat in real time that sometimes lets you go multiplayer. It made the combat engine feel more SKILL based, instead of STAT based, unlike other standard Japanese RPGs. You weren't just sitting there spamming through menus to get to the end of the battle. Instead you had to pay attention to what the enemy was doing, and also pay attention to what your party members were doing, and base your attacks on that.

3. Character depth was actually done extremely well. With most RPGs, characters are extremely flat, however, with the Tales games, as I already mentioned, they add elements to plotline and help give depth to otherwise flat characters. Not to mention, the character designs themselves were great, each character was truely unique and you could really see their cutscene versions in their sprites.

Unfortunately, neither Symphonia or Abyss followed these three tenets of the Tales series. The stories to the games suddenly became extremely slow, taking hours upon hours just to start up, and by the time they did start up, you don't care about the characters anymore. Neooutlaw tried to play Abyss, but he gave up after an hour because he hadn't even fought a SINGLE fight. Every single Tales game until these have had a BOSS FIGHT within the first 30 minutes... hell, Legendia's FIRST SCENE was a boss fight; and one you could actually die on!

The combat systems also lost that luster in the transfer to the 3D system. With Japanese RPGs these days moving over to realtime battle systems (ala Final Fantasy 12 and Kingdom Hearts), for some reason, Namco felt the need to update their system to 3D to match. But in doing so, they trivialized the skill requirements; the game became so easy and you could literally beat the game by spamming the same moves over and over again (with the occasional super attack or light spear cannon).

I play RPGs for specific reasons... I like the stories, so if a game doesnt have a good story, it immediately turns to shit. I also play for the characters, and the fun of the combat engine. If these 3 things don't hold up, then the game itself falls apart. The amazing thing I see is that Symphonia is the majority of the United States first introduction to the Tales series; so it holds the same water with people that Final Fantasy 7 does... It is no way one of the best games in the series, but people didn't know/play better so the nostalgia stuck. I see the same things happen with Anime.
 

Syrpiektre

[09] Warrior
Somewhat unrelated but did Absolute Zero redo the script or did he keep Tomato's old one from the DeJap days?

Completely unrelated, but did you play any of the original SMT series of games? Now there was a good story ramp-up, haha.
 

Shade_Buster

[09] Warrior
One thing that I absolutely hated about Abyss is how the story just dragged on. I couldn't take it any longer and just downloaded a game save for the final battle just so I can see the ending.

I'm not much of a Tales enthusiast but I'm currently liking Rebirth. I just wished someone makes a translation patch so I don't have to go through these translation walkthroughs..T__T
 
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Jaxel

Administrator
They redid it... There was another subbing group that used Tomato's old one, but Absolute Zero's was better. The best part with AZ's was that when the game started, it gave you the options to play untranslated, english translated or ROMANIZED (which means you can have moves called "Majinken" instead of "Demon Blade")

SMT?

Judas's (Leon) Super Hi-Ougi Majin Rengoku Satsu from Tales of Destiny 2 is still the best ougi in the entire series. In order to get it, you needed to beat the game THREE times before you could even get the chance to unlock it...


And just for bad-assery... here's the gameplay trailer to the Tales of Destiny Remake... When I talk about a good combat engine for a Tales game, its stuff like this that I am talking about.

 

Syrpiektre

[09] Warrior
I guess that kind of answers my question XD Thanks for doing the clarification ahead of time mudah.

Shin Megami Tensei (the original series of games) all pretty much begin with the Apocalypse within the first hour of gameplay. I don't know how many people complained to us at Atlus when they got nuked by the first boss in SMT3 for not playing to the Press Turn system and just attacking.

Anyway not to hijack the thread, but that is one awesome ougi. I didn't realize they had that in ToD o_O
 

Jager13

Fifth Sun
Tales of Vesperia was my first Tales game and I am really enjoying it I just got to the final boss I’ll probably finish it tomorrow but reading this kind of makes me want to try some of the older games in the series.
 

Saixer

[08] Mercenary
Out of the 3D ones, I find ToA to be the best of the lot for gameplay reasons alone. Well, that and Jade's humor along with Dist's flamboyancy. You're right about the beginning being slow, though, compared to other Tales games, and the story's pretty average. However, at least it's not ToD2 story bad, which can be summed up with "Kyle: I wanna be a hero" + TIME TRAVEL SCREWS UP EVERYTHING.
 

lobo

Luminario
ok jaxel you've crossed the line here. i haven't played tales of abyss, but i never would bother. i loved all the previous games, up until tales of legendia. and right now i am telling everybody that it sucked bad enough to ruin the whole series.

wtf were those bouncing mole things anyway...ugh. makes me shiver.

sometimes i still rock my legendia necklace though...
 

Shuyyin

[08] Mercenary
Wow? someone who actually liked legendia besides me? hahaha holy shit this is so surprising. im kinda in an aweshock, i was in such along discussion with fanboys at gamefaqs, gamespot and tales.com for the longest time. FUCK! High five jaxel.

Top 3?

1) Phantasia
2) Legendia (Chloe is by far my favorite Tales character, next to Presea, Sheena and Cless)
3) Unfortunately, i liked Symphonia. dont hate me, honest truth. But I don't think its OMFGBBQSAUCE best rpg ever either.

This thread caught my eye as i was scrolling through old topics =o
 

TetsuyaHikari

[09] Warrior
Yes, it is surprising to see another Tales fan who loved Legendia. Legendia is like the FFVIII of the series. There were only a few who liked the game. While everyone else was gloating over Lloyd from Symphonia (FFVII), you were talking about how awesome it was that for the first time..the main character used something other than a sword. His fists!!

Of course..Symphonia was a lot of gamers' first Tales game, so that was practically a moot point to them. They couldn't care less. "ZOMG!! DUAL-WIELDING!!11111". As for how I think about ToA, well..I didn't think it was that great about the first 20 hours of playing.

Once you reach that point though, things seem to start getting better. Luke stops acting like a fucking idiot and turns into a man (shorter hair is definitely more awesome). Jade has his anti-fonslot finally removed. You start getting all these different titles which grant you different outfits.

So forth and so on. It's starts to be a lot more enjoyable. Man..if you can't get through Luke being an asshat for that long though, you probably won't stick with it long enough to like it, lol. I certainly wasn't used to that though. In any..and I mean ANY...other Tales game I've played, the main was rather enjoyable.

I think my list would go as follows:

1. Stahn
2. Cless
3. Kyle
4. Reid
5. Veigue
6. Senel
7. Luke
8. Lloyd

Although, to be fair..Leon is above all of them, haha :P

Speaking of Leon...I still need to sit down with the Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut and go through Leon's side. I've loved every minute of it that I've played so far, but damnit..I keep getting distracted. Tales of Destiny is definitely my favorite of the series though.

If anyone here plans on playing it at some point and they already haven't yet, getting the original for PS1 would be fine, but I would highly suggest importing the remake or Director's Cut for PS2. I loved the original, but..I really like what they did to the remake.

We got some better rendered sprites now and the original battle system " E-LMBS" has been replaced with someone known as, "AR-LMBS" which stands for "Aerial Linear Motion Battle" which makes aerial combos more easier to perform this time. Also, unlike the original which used TP to perform skills/magic, we use Chain Capacity points (CC for short) and basically..it refills during the fight, so as long as you have enough CC, you can perform the action (i.e. swinging your sword twice may take 4 out of your 5 points, but if you back off for a little bit and guard, they will replenish quickly. I believe performing Guardian takes CC too, but I can't remember >.<)

I can't tell you how nice it is to see Stahn's Hi-Ougi, "Kouhou Tenshouyoku" and Leon's, "Majin Rengokusatsu" in these improved graphics. The first time I activated them during battle, I was like, "OMG!! THE PHOENIIIIIIIIIIX!!!!", lol. It was awesome seeing all my favorite moves and hell..my favorite game from the Tales series, in these very nice graphics.

Anyway! It's a bit off-topic now. So, if you don't feel like playing ToA, just watch the anime. It's been following the story to a T. I'm watching it and so far, we're up to episode 4 (Luke and co. has just met Master Van at the port and are about to board the ship).

So yeah, that's my 2 gald on the matter :P
 

Dullyanna

[10] Knight
Huh, I like ToL too... I fucking hate Norma though. Not because she's a bitch, but because she's incredibly stupid... In one main scene. Anybody who's played it will likely know which scene I'm talking about.
 

ShinobiBrown

[10] Knight
I've come to the point where I've stopped expecting decent stories from JRPGs. The only JRPG as of late that have been really capturing me story-wise is the Shin Megami Tensei series. The majority of others ether have dry plot lines or dry characters that make you not care about the plot line (For example ToA). I mostly play JRPGs for gameplay now and have stopped playing turn-based ones unless it's a strat RPG (Megaten being one of the few exceptions).

I won't say ToA is bad. I'll simply say it's cookie cutter. I, personally, rank it higher than Symphonia for a few reasons:

1) Main battle theme was bearable.
2) Had two likable characters. (Only liked one character in Symphonia, Zelos)
3) Free Run (granted it could have been implemented better)
4) Story plot points didn't reek of a FFX rehash

To be honest, I've always preferred the Star Ocean series over the Tales series anyway. I also find it interesting because my introduction into the Star Ocean series is, according to veteran fans, the worst in the series and I really like the game. I'm talking Star Ocean III: Till the End of Time. My introduction into the Tales series was Symphonia. I've played the past games afterward and I rate Destiny the best of them. I really wish Namco would localize ToD:RE. That game looks pretty bad ass. I'd import it but I'm not that dedicated to the series.

As for Star Ocean, I just recently began playing First Departure on PSP and it's pretty enjoyable, though I don't rank it higher than Till the End of Time for the fact that it's pretty button masher friendly. Basically, it plays more like a Tales game (which would make sense considering Tri-Ace are EX Tales team members anyway) with perma-free run. Second Evolution is due out Jan 09 and is the best in the series according to fans. Although, I highly think they mean this in regards to story rather than gameplay. Which is funny because the story for the series overall is pretty shitty. Same applies to the Tales series. The gameplay is what I enjoy the most out of the two series and I just prefer Star Ocean's gameplay style over Tales.
 

Jaxel

Administrator
Geh... Till the End of Time was TERRIBLE.

Seriously... play Tales of Phantasia on the PSX.