Tales of Vesperia
Reviewed by Anna "Lania" Sladö
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-08-07 Xbox 360 RPG T (Teen) Namco Bandai

In the time it took Namco Bandai to bring Tales of Vesperia to Europe, the next installment of the series, Tales of Graces, was announced. Now how's that for slow? Almost an entire year after the US release were us mortals given the chance to explore this new universe, that so many had spoken so well of.

In the imperial city, we find Vesperia's protagonist, Yuri, living in the slums. A former soldier of the Empire, he disapproved of the order of things, left the army and has set his mind to do things his own way, hoping to bring change about a little quicker. Yuri is like no other RPG-hero that I've seen before. He has a sweet-looking face, but there are times when these traits disappear and a more malicious Yuri steps into place.

The towns in Vesperia's world are protected from roaming monsters, using a material called Blastia, that create barriers. The story sets off when the slum's Blastia is stolen, and who other than Yuri goes after the culprit. This leads him to the castle where he meets the princess Estellise, later on referred to as Estelle. She is really the typical air-headed female lead; she doesn't know what she wants, she's all too kind and once she discovers her power (cause of course there is such a thing) you're supposed to feel sad for her when the going gets rough, but you don't.

However, she has a role to play and I accept her. But the mysterious Judith is a much more interesting character. She can seem to drift off into space and sometimes she says the weirdest things (like the first time she meets Yuri), but she's got her head on straight and is also a very good fighter in battle. In fact, it was really hard for me to choose which members of the party I wanted to use in fights, because they are all good in their own way and charming as well. Raven is your average perverted bastard, but with a loving heart. Karol is hilarious trying to swing his huge swords or axes as well as carrying around an all-purpose bag. His voice actor could've been better though, he shouts way too much, so does the magician Rita, but they both have sweet sides to them. I love Judith's tone of voice; it's so seductive in a way - alluring if you will. Yuri is also no disappointment at all; he has a masculine tone which may not always go hand in hand with his looks, until his persona reaches his darker levels.

True to form, the game starts out small scale, but the search for the Blastia thief is soon forgotten, what with all the new problems that are thrown at Yuri's crew. But I must say that a lot of the time, the story was confusing me. The characters that join up with Yuri all have their own agendas. And this I really like of course, it's not like your normal "hey, are you gonna fight evil, I'll join!" type of thing. But the backside to the characters' personal struggles is that they all wanna do their own thing and they are all talking about different things at the same time. And soon enough, the manuscript is filled with words like Aer krene, Enthelexia etc, which just make my head spin. There is a red thread, for sure, but sometimes, you gotta pay real close attention to even find it.

The skits are back, now with voice acting, which is a real lift. As usual, you can't have many items in your inventory, so you pack some ingredients so you can cook from the menu or after a battle. Just like in Tales of Abyss, you find a Wonder Chef in strange places in the world and he provides you with new recipes. But after you've cooked a meal, you can't cook one right after, because then your party is full, so you have to wait till after a fight. It struck me though, that I didn't use the cooking function nearly as much as I've done in other Tales-games. And that's pretty sad I guess, but at the same time, you really don't need it as much.

Tales of Vesperia is a truly beautiful game. The world is bursting with magical colors and I don't think I've ever seen celshading look this good, except for Valkyria Chronicles. I love the details of Yuri as he runs through the fields and towns, with his sword swinging next to him in a belt that he carries in his hand. The battle system is like any other Tales-game fast paced and with lots of opportunities to deal massive damage through linked attacks or special skills. The skill system that's new to the series is a lot of fun. Just like in FF IX, you learn different abilities from the weapons your wear and through synthesis you can create new weapons with even better skills. I swear, only that can keep you going forever.

Strangely enough the score by Motoi Sakuraba didn't strike me as particularly great. I can pretty much only remember the battle themes, and that's because you hear them a lot. Also, there are a few spelling errors and such in the game. Punctuations are missing, letters have gone missing and the worst of all; a character named Tort is referred to as Toth and then Tort again. I swear, if Namco Bandai had almost a year to bring this to Europe, couldn't they at least have gone through the game one more time? Why else did you keep us on hold?

Another thing that I find strange is that Yuri's trusted companion, the dog Repede, gets no explanation. They trust each other with their lives, yet where Repede comes from, how they met, and under what circumstances are never told. It's a bit sad that they left something that important out.

Tales of Vesperia is a fun game to play. The dungeons are never too big or too small, there are many secrets to be unveiled and just immersing yourself in this colorful world is a great experience on its own. However, I did feel like something was missing when I was playing. If that has to do with the red thread or anything else, I might never be sure of. But at least Namco Bandai can be glad to know that it was at least worth the wait.