Review by Groggar
I'll just put this game in my 'Favourites' pile...
Tales of the Abyss is my second Tales game, with Symphonia being my first. As soon as I heard of the new Free-Run system, I knew I had to get this game.
The story in this game starts out rather slow. You have to wait it out, but the wait is worth it. I found the plot to be enticing and quite interesting. You play as Luke fon Fabre, the son of a duke who was kidnapped 7 years ago and lost his memory. When he was found, he was taken to his manor and wasn't allowed to leave. So he's spent 7 years in his manor with nothing to do but train with the sword with his servant, Guy, or his teacher, Van. Then on his last training day with Van, a girl named Tear enters the manor with the intentions of assassinating Van. Tear and Luke touch each other and they get mysteriously teleported far away.
The characters in the game are far from bland. They all have distinct personalities and you get to learn about every one of them. They're all likable, though Luke will take some time to get used to.
The music in this game is fantastic. I loved the battle themes a lot. They're probably my favourite battle themes since Xenosaga Episode 1. The rest of the track is pretty good, but some dungeons have very repetitive music and it can get annoying.
The voice acting is very well done. All of the character's voices fit them perfectly and they'll make you laugh throughout the game.
The gameplay has always been the highlight of Tales games. This is no different. The game takes on Symphonia's battle engine, but changes it a bit. They introduce the 'Free Run' system, which makes the game somewhat similar to Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. By holding down L2, you can run freely around the battle field, without worrying about the line between you and your target. You can't attack will in Free Run though. It's mostly used to dodge attacks.
Instead of Ex-Gems, this game has C-Cores and AD Skills. Some AD Skills are learnt from leveling up, while others require you to fiddle around with your Capacity Cores (C-Cores). Throughout the game, you'll find several C-Cores. Equip one to get a boost to your stats for every level up. If you have the C-Core 'Stre", you'll see it has P.ATK +2 and P.DEF +1. This means that if you're P.ATK was supposed to increase by 6 on the level up, it will increase by 8 instead because of the plus 2. And if your P.DEF was supposed to increase by 4, it would go up by 5 instead. Getting better C-Cores will allow you to shape the character your own way and allow the character to get good in the stats you want it to be good in. By reaching a certain amount of stats with C-Cores, you'll learn new AD Skills.
This game is also multiplayer. Up to four people can play together on co-op. It adds to the fun factor when friends are allowed to join along.
I, myself, don't really care about graphics. This game's graphics weren't terrible, but they're weren't great either. The world map is kind of dull. The environments, at least, are very colourful. The characters might be seen as blocky, but that isn't very noticeable.
The game, if played on Normal, is quite easy. Most bosses are pushovers. However, if you don't like to have an easy time and like a challenge, you can switch the difficulty to Hard at any time. I haven't tried Hard mode that much yet, but I've heard certain bosses use new Mystic Artes that they don't use on Normal. There's also Unknown mode but you have to unlock it.
Throughout the game you get Grade. After every battle, depending how well you do, you will either gain or lose Grade. When you beat the game you can start a new game. Before the new game begins, you can enter the Grade Shop. All the Grade you obtained on your first play-through can be spent in this shop. The Shop has stuff like carrying over items or C-Cores or giving 2x or 10x experience. It makes you more inclined to starting a second play through. There's also supposed to be certain things that can't be done unless it's a second play through.
Overall Score 10/10
Though this game isn't a perfect 10, decimals aren't allowed and thus I can't rate it 9.5. It's a very good game and it's the second longest game I've played, with 75 hours clocked after beating the final boss.
Rent it first if you're still unsure. If you've played Symphonia already, you'll probably like it so you could just go buy it straight away. For a new game, it's not much either.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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