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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Namco Bandai
Namco Bandai
November 11, 2008

Tales of Vesperia

Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology

Tales of the Abyss

Tales of Phantasia

Tales of Eternia

More in this Series
 Written by Jason Fanelli  on August 24, 2009

Review: Telling tales on the Wii.

I've always been a major RPG fan. I've been playing Final Fantasy games since I was eleven, and I'm always open to a new RPG experience. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, on the surface, has all of the standard RPG elements, but adds a real-time battle system that works on occasion and the ability to gain monsters as allies. Other than that, the game does not really have much to offer for RPG fans who haven't already played the original Tales of Symphonia for the GameCube. The story borrows a lot from its predecessor, as well as some of the characters, so without the prior knowledge, gamers might get lost.

Visually, ToS: DotNW is impressive. The game has a very anime-ish look to it, with characters sporting large eyes and outlandish costumes. Anyone who has played the original Tales of Symphonia game will be impressed with how the game built on the outstanding visuals there to create such a fantastic world here. The character animations flow smoothly, with very few glitches or jumps. The backgrounds are beautiful, flowing with color and detailed down to the last blade of grass. The magic spells are bright and flashy, as magic should be, making each spell seem much more effective. However, great visuals do not a great game make, and there are other issues that keeps Dawn of the New World from being the elite game it could have been.

The gameplay is a different take on the classic RPG elements; while the normal stats and levels are present, the battle system is far from the norm. Random battles do occur a la Final Fantasy, but the actual fighting takes more from Kingdom Hearts and other real-time battle systems. You control Emil during these battles, and aside from the normal slash attacks and kick, there are special moves you can perform by holding a certain direction on the nunchuk. I rather enjoyed this new battle system, for even though the turn-based system is great, I like having the added control over my character. Outside of battling, the gameplay consisted of mostly walking around, solving puzzles, and talking to NPCs, just like other RPGs.

The sounds of the game are a tale of two worlds. Musically, the game shines, with full orchestral support and excellently written tracks that anyone can enjoy. On the other hand, the voice-acting and dialogue are another story. I have never been as annoyed by a game character's voice and overall demeanor as I was with the protagonist, Emil. To fully understand how annoying he is, take every screaming child you've ever heard in public, multiply the annoyance factor by five, and you'll have Emil's whiny, sissy voice. Of course, when he becomes his badass alter ego, everything's fine, but during his sissy stage you just want to slap him. The other characters are voiced well, though, so the voices aren't a total distraction. Of course, like most voiced games, some lines of dialogue are groan-worthy, but not nearly as bad as prior offenses (Symphony of the Night, anyone?)

My one major gripe with the game is a lack of an "after-quest." Once the game ends, it ends. Nothing else to do. There is what's called a "Grade Shop" where you buy upgrades to make your second playthrough faster, but there's not a single bit of game to play after the credits roll, and that is a bit of a disappointment. Games like Oblivion and Fallout 3 (after the DLC was released) gave gamers much more to do after completion, but Dawn of the New World just flat ends, effectively ruining any replayability it may have had.

Bottom Line
Though it does have something to add to the RPG genre, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World does not deliver enough to be considered one of the great. The battle system is cool, and the soundtrack is wonderful, but the lack of replayability is killer, and it's never good when the player wants to punch the lead character every time he speaks. If you're an RPG buff, then give it a shot. Otherwise, it may not deliver the fun-factor you're looking for.

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