Friday, 22 February 2013

Tales of Graces f

Gamespot Score: 7.0 (Good)

My Score: 8.0

(+)Pros: - Great story that is genuinely heartfelt, - Deep combat system that is visually stunning and satisfactory, - Tons of post game and optional content that will keep you occupied WAY beyond your initial clear, - Likable characters that offer a ton of different game play variety in battle, - Multi-player  between friends can be really fun.

(-)Cons: - Childhood section is rather long and weak, - Gets a LITTLE bit cliche at times during dialogue sections.

Gameplay time: 40 hours +

So, more "Tales" games. Lately I have been engrossed in "Tales" games more than ever and went A LOT into the culture of these games, I even went on Youtube to watch "Tales of Festival" videos. Anyway, "Tales of Graces F" is the recent PS3 release for the franchise (the ones that are localized anyway, I will never get to play Vesperia. Thanks alot NamcoBandai), and since its just a port to the Wii version of "Tales of Graces", many told me to skip it. I kept my will since I have never played an original "Tales" game for a long time (not a god damn spin off) and got the game....holy shit I was not disappointed. If you love JRPGs or the "Tales" series in general, this is one you shouldn't miss.

This tale puts you in the shoes of Asbel Lhant, the guy who wants to protect everybody (it's like a freaking meme now). The story starts as focusing of Asbel when he was a child, and forces you to play him as one. As a child he's nothing but a naive, playful brat that just wants to disobey his father, the lord of Lhant, his hometown. One day however when playing with his younger brother Hubert in the nearby hills, they discover a girl lying in the grass. She introduces herself as Sophie and claims that she has no memory of anything. They stick with her and soon they become friends. Following the events of this, the group of children somehow manage to get themselves into major trouble and their friendship just broke right there. Asbel ran away from home and went to train as a knight....for seven years. Now at age 18, Asbel gets called back to Lhant by his childhood friend Cheria, who he has not seen for 7 years. Little did he know this was the start of a new journey for him.


First things first, the story is great. It starts off pretty good already (minus the childhood sections), and ramps up to get better every single moment. The game never looks back, and you are presented with more interesting or intense story scenarios as you play. Best of all is that since there is a lot of friendship involved, things get emotional at times, especially when the game is at its peak. There is a lot of like, especially the characters. Most of them you know during the childhood sections, and back then they were all nothing but whiny and wimpy kids. Grown up they are a complete different story, most become likable. Like Cheria's caring attitude or Hubert's bossy demeanor. Malik is a funny old man and Pascal is just cheery beyond hell. Everyone's different personalities form together into an enjoyable party.

When you talk "Tales", you talk combat. With every game they change the combat system a little bit here and there so do expect to feel a little alienated at first. But alas since it IS "Tales", they didn't stray too far from their roots. Chaining moves together still feels natural, and in this game, they layed out different character's moves into 2 different sets, A artes and B artes, to make the game have more momentum. A artes are your combo moves, these can be chained together, up to 4 skills in a chain depending on your CC meter. B artes are just singular skills that you use once, some characters can chain B artes however, like Hubert and Asbel. CC is the key new mechanic here. SP is gone, and now everything you do requires CC. Using artes deplete your CC, and when you hit 0, you cannot do anything until your CC meter refills. This makes players a little more conservative and less spammy.


All characters play differently in battle, and while you can only assume direct control of one character (like in all "Tales" games, don't bitch about it), you can switch between any of the characters in the game, there are 7 in total (6 in the normal game, another one in the extra content). As usual, you get to use any of these characters as your main, and since they all function differently, his can be really fun. If you get tired of playing Asbel, a brainless melee character that chains artes all day, you can easily switch to someone like Cheria who prefers to fight at a distance and support the team. You can only have up to 4 characters at once, so you will have 2 or 3 characters benched back, but no worries, they will still receive EXP, just in case you need a specific battle to win a boss fight.

Another really cool thing about the game is that you can play with up to 3 other players. A friend can at any time, assume control of any of the other characters. Together you can whoop ass and  screw up big time. Its also worth noting that without co-op, its almost impossible to defeat the rock-a-gong, because all your retarded AI team mates will get their ass handed to them by getting eaten. Your AI team mates aren't bad, since you can set their behaviors according to what you need during a boss fight.

Lots of stats and titles.

As for flaws...its mostly aimed at slightly cliched story moments. The constant rambling about friends can get a LITTLE bit annoying and repetitive, especially with Asbel. The childhood section is also pretty bad. Its long, its boring, and worst of all, you don't give a damn about the characters when they were young. They are naive, stupid, and annoying. Its all just a big build up to the better and more intriguing adulthood section that we are all waiting for.

"Tales of Graces f" is an awesome entry to the series and is all the more worthy of the "Tales" name. The deep combat system, great story, and plentiful of optional content makes it a game which you can hug for dozens and dozens of hours. If you had always enjoyed "Tales" games, this is one you would have gotten already. If you enjoy JRPGs, I see no reason to ignore this either. For the rest of you, this is a title that is immediately accessible. The combat system is fun, and almost everything about it makes it a great JRPG title.

Happy gaming!