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Tales of the Abyss Review


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On 02/19/2012 at 09:41 PM by Jon Lewis

A decent port of a great game.
RECOMMENDATION:

For any JRPG fan that may have missed the original PS2 release.

Tales of the Abyss tells the story of Luke fon Fabre, a boy who lives a sheltered life due to a kidnapping incident that he was the victim of as a child. After losing all of his childhood memories, he becomes a snobby and ignorant young adult. During a training exercise with his master, Van, a mysterious female attacker accidentally causes an event known as “Hyperresonance” which sends both Luke and his attacker to the other side of the country. Luke then learns about the conspiracies, wars and other events that were going on outside of the walls that he had been bound by. These events change Luke, and everyone that he travels with.

The plot is important in JRPGs and in that respect, Tales of the Abyss delivers. Though some of the characters start off pretty annoying, they later develop to become characters that are much more likable and complex. The story is very anime-esque (this particular game does indeed have an anime based off of it) so fans of that form of entertainment should be right at home. Tales games usually follow an overall theme, with this one being “To discover the meaning of birth” which is definitely addressed. The story takes you across a huge world, ranging from forests, to abandoned mansions, to huge towns. The map is so huge in fact, that at a certain point in the game, you are given a ship to fly around the map which in turn makes travel a lot quicker. 

The Tales series is known for its interesting combat mechanics. Traditionally, they involve a linear combat system known as “LMBS” which stands for “linear motion battle system”. This means that characters are locked in with an enemy and can move either toward or away from the enemy. Abyss was the first in the series to introduce the “Free Run” mechanic which allows the player to move freely in the 3D space. This makes escaping from dangerous attacks or enemies a lot easier, and is a welcome addition to the series. This was also the first 3D Tales game to feature Mystic Artes, which are special attacks that are preformed while in the “Overlimit” mode. Other mechanics like FoF (Field of Fonon) are in the game, which gives certain Artes special effects. 

Using these special moves is essential to combat, and later on in the game it becomes important to keep your combos going. Players have full control over the party with many options that change how the AI reacts to different enemies and situations. Unfortunately, this game does not include a co-op multiplayer component, which was included in the original PS2 version, but seeing how it is on a handheld, I can understand that would be a tough task to pull off.

The load times and frame rate are generally much better, save for a few special effects here or there. The main problem here is what the game didn’t add. 

One of this game's hooks is that it now has added 3D support thanks to the Nintendo 3DS hardware. The problem is that the game barely benefits from the effect. Most cutscenes, both anime and pre-rendered, do not even have a 3D effect to begin with. The 3D that is included however is decent, but the game looks only slightly better. Sometimes the 3D makes some textures look a bit more jagged, encouraging me to turn the 3D off. I recommend leaving the slider on only half way.

Touch screen control is one of the other hooks, which is responsive and convenient. Though the transition is handled correctly, it’s clearly there because of the 3DS’ lack of an extra thumb stick. That said, I had no problems using the touch screen in the middle of battle, and the map display on the second screen is also a welcome addition. 

My biggest problem with Tales of the Abyss 3D is one of principle. I feel that this game would have benefited from a full make-over, rather than a port. The series’ famous skits, which are additions that flesh out the story and characters, aren’t voiced. While it’s not a big issue, all of the latest Tales games have voiced skits which are much better at conveying the point.

Aside from that, some textures look a bit jagged or faded, which could have probably been fixed if they updated the art style a little bit. That would also do the 3D effect some justice. Not to be nitpicky, but a few brand new extras wouldn’t hurt as well, perhaps in the form of new costumes or Artes. 

I like Tales of the Abyss, however there are many things that prevent it from being the definitive version of the game. The lack of multiplayer hurts it, and the new additions don’t add too much to the experience. If you haven’t experienced Tales of the Abyss in the past however, this is the perfect time to do so. The game runs about 50 to 60 hours and is packed with replay value. Despite the lack of brand new extras there are already extra dungeons, costumes, Artes and bosses to find in the "new game plus" mode, which gives it a lot of value.

If you have played Tales of the Abyss before, there’s nothing new to see here, but if you’re like me and never owned it or just plain love the Tales series, this game is a must own.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

02/22/2012 at 10:45 AM

I got some gift cards recently, so I picked this one up.  I'll probably sit on it until I'm done with Vesperia, but I'm very excited to give it a spin.

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