Review by 17kratos18
With the massive fanbase that built around Tales of Symphonia (gamecube), it wasn't very surprising to see a sequel to come through. Tales of Symphonia isn't exactly to be considered a sequel though. It had some major budget cuts because of the release of Tales of Vesperia. While this game is considered a spin-off, it is still a great game nonetheless. It has very a very original storyline and battle system. One of the best parts regarding this game is the fact that it incorporates the best things in other RPGs. The main problem people have with this game however, is that they compare it too much against its predecessor, Tales of Symphonia (GC), when in fact, this game contains several elements that are completely different from its prequel. I'll section off this review into separate aspects and then give you an overall impression in the end:
This game directly picks up the story from where ToS left off. After the world was saved and everything was good, it turns out that not everything turns out perfectly. In a way, the story is pretty realistic as this can happen in real life. You play the role of Emil, a boy who'se parents were killed and is ostracized by everyone around him. The killer of Emil's parents is none other than Lloyd himself, as it seems that somehow after becoming a hero of the people's he became evil or something of the sort. I'd rather not spoil anything for you, but I CAN tell you that the story for this game is incredible. Like many RPGs, it starts off a bit slow and cliché (though not as much as the prequel ToS). However, as the game progresses you'll get to see some crazy character depth and very good plotwists. Try not to spoil yourself btw :P Character depth is also very great in this game, and you'll often find yourself feeling and thinking just like several of the characters. At times, you might even feel yourself connecting and relating to the characters.This game also explores several key storyline factors throughout sidequests and sub-events, so you might even find yourself going out of your way during the main game to find out about certain characters and certain events.
Nothing really great when compared to the graphics of many other games, even when comapared to some Gamecube titles. However, the graphics hold a very artistic aspect to them and are a HUGE leap when compared to the Gamecube ToS. The graphics are also kinda anime-ish and cell-shaded, pretty original. You'll also enjoy seeing the detail put into certain dungeons or towns, and the graphics also tend to make certain characters look pretty cute. The one big downside to the graphics is the fact that you cannot see armor and such things when your characters equip them. It's a bit of a downer not seeing how my characters looked with certain things equipped. You CAN however, see the weapons which you equip on them, which is really cool.
Most of the soundtrack of this game is actually the old ToS soundtrack with a nice remix to it. However, when it comes down to it, the soundtrack itself is a bit forgetable. I did enjoy how certain songs fit certain scenes so perfectly though, totally pulling in the player into the mood that the characters are feeling. The character voices are all pretty great as well. You'll enjoy knowing that some characters kept their old voices from the original ToS. I'm not gonna lie though, Emil's voice IS pretty annoying at first, but you'll get used to it. The English voices are far better than the Japanese ones in my opinion.
The controls are incredibly easy to get used to and it becomes second nature almost instantly. However, the battles seemed a little slow at times, but once you become skilled at fighting you'll see that it's just you not skilled enough at comboing yet. Perhaps the best part about the controls in this type of game is the fact that you play mostly by using buttons, instead of swinging the Wii-mote, which usually works great in fast-paced battles such as the ones in this game. The menu system also seems to work very effectively and easily through the game. The menus are sectioned off into specific areas for a much easier browsing in and out of battles.
The gameplay of this game is mostly based around the monsters system in this game. Basically, after defeating a monster, you can form a pact with it and then have it fight alongside you. Kinda like Pokemon or Digimom, however this is all real-time battles, so it's much better. You can only carry up to four monsters and any more you catch after that get sent to a guild, such as a pokemon center. The monsters system in this game is perhaps what makes this game so great, as there are plenty of types to catch, evolve and use. You cannot play as the monsters however, but it's still pretty fun to watch them tear through your enemies. Also, you get to have the original ToS crew in your party, and they're usually pretty useful in battles as well. You have plenty of choices in how you get to fight, and there are even strategies that you can set up for your party for specific battles. The boss fights are also incredibly fun, and by no means too difficult or too easy, The balance in difficulty in this game is nearly perfect, and if you find yourself having a hard time, you can always go and level up a bit and then try again. The game also has a quest system, in which you can do a large amount of quests to gain experience, items, and even monsters. The choices are what makes the gameplay excellent.
Replay Value: 10/10
This game is actually a bit short when compared to other RPGs and even the original ToS. A good 35 hours and you'll be fighting the last boss, unless you go for the sidequests and quests within the game, then add a few more hours. The game has a New Game+ feature as well, in which you get to keep certain bonuses from your previous game such as items, monsters, skills, ect. With this, you'll probably replay this game at least once or twice, and probably more. It's incredibly fun and has lots of humor to keep you going.
This game was an incredibly stress reliever for me and I had tons of fun playing it. You'll find yourself caught up in within the storyline and even more on its gameplay. The monster system will always leave you with something new and a bit exiting, as each monster has different evolutionary paths to keep your attention when it comes to raising your monsters. The battles are great, the story is great, everything is great. I highly suggest getting this game even if you haven't played the original ToS. This game does a great job at explaining the story while also preventing spoilers from the Gamecube title. Balance is key, and this game has it.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (US, 11/11/08)
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