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Tales of Graces f Hands On Preview

Namco Bandai's Latest Takes the Series In A Slightly New Direction.

Many Tales fans feared that we would never see Tales of Graces on U.S. soil. It has been three years since the Japanese Wii release and two years since the release of the enhanced PS3 port, Tales of Graces f. Though it looked unlikely, Namco Bandai announced last year that we in the U.S. would officially be getting Tales of Graces f and that we would be getting the best possible version of the game. Tales of Graces f may not be on the radar of many gamers, but people interested in the JRPG genre should definitely look out for this.

Tales of Graces f takes place on the fictional world of Efinea which houses the three kingdoms, Windol, Strata and Fendel. The three kingdoms are constantly at war and compete for complete dominance of the planet. Within the Windol Region lies the city of Lhant, homeland of the game’s main character, Asbel.

Asbel is the son of the Feudal lord, Aston, and like any other kid grew up without a care in the world. When he is grown he enlists in the knighthood, believing that becoming a knight will ultimately give him the strength to protect those that he loves.  This action is the catalyst for the game and is a central theme of the game.

You begin as a young child partnered up with Asbel's younger brother, Hubert, and his friend Richard. During one of their childhood adventures, the misfit crew runs into a mysterious girl named Sophie, who has lost her memory.

Eight years later Asbel is well on his way to becoming a Knight. However, his plans are abruptly brought to a hault when his father passes away. Asbel soon after decides to give up his dream of being a knight and instead takes his father’s place as the new feudal lord and thus beginning a new chapter of his life that will be the game’s focus.

Not much else is known about the plot as of yet (unless you have played the Japanese release by now), but the game is said to contain about fifty hours of content. Graces f is an enhanced port of the original Wii release and with that comes some great additions. The first and most notable of these is an additional plotline that takes place a few months after the ending of the original story. This future (hence the “f” in the title) plot was added to tie up the original’s loose ends and adds about 10 extra hours of gameplay.

Additionally, new scenes were added to the main story to add more depth to the characters. The graphics have also been polished to take advantage of the beefier PS3 hardware, new secrets and costumes have been added, as well as new Blast Caliburs (which are special moves similar to Mystic Arts from the past games) that were not in the original Wii version of the game.

The battle system is one of the major parts of the Tales games. Tales of Graces f uses a system called SS-LMBS which stands for Style Shift Linear Motion Battle System. Within this, players are locked on to an opponent and can either move toward or away from that enemy. The previous games showed the characters from a more 2D prospective in battle, this game shows a prospective where the camera rests behind the playable character. This allows players to be able to side step around enemies.

Attacks and Artes are also handled in a much different fashion. Gone are the standard melee attacks from previous games. Now, each character has two different styles which have access to different types of artes. The first style is known as Style A, where your most basic artes are charted depending on which direction you press while pressing the X button. Each attack uses up points on the Chain Capacity gauge, so players need to manage this wisely. The second style is known as Burst Style, and these artes are more traditional. You assign artes to different directions and you can customize it to your liking. Overall, this one is a bit different from the previous games, so to explain, what better way than to show and explain it than a video:

 

If the past games are any indicator, then there is no doubt in my mind that Tales of Graces f will be just as, if not more enjoyable than its predecessors. With a fresh take on the battle system, an expansive story and all of the brand new goodies of the enhanced version, there's a lot to be excited about. Tales of Graces f comes out on March, 13th 2012 exclusively for the PlayStation 3.



 

Comments

Anonymous

03/09/2012 at 10:40 PM

Very nice preview. I understand the battle system a bit more. It always seemed so confusing to me before. :D

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

03/09/2012 at 10:52 PM

Thanks! Glad I could help!

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/10/2012 at 10:51 AM

I'd be interested in seeing a direct comparison between this and Vesperia.  Lots of Tales games are very similar, and I'd want to know if this is different enough to be worth a purchase

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

03/11/2012 at 09:27 AM

back when the Wii release came out, I played about 20 hours of the game (in Japanese and i kinda guessed my way thru until i got stuck) but ToG doesnt stray too far from the traditional Tales formula, but it does feel a lot different than Vesperia overall. Battles have a much different flow, and even the overworld is handled a bit differently. I'll be reviewing the game, so i guess look out for that for a final judgement

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