General Video Games discussion | Page 1553 | The Popjustice Forum

General Video Games discussion

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Shockbox, May 4, 2009.

  1. Tales of Vesperia Review:

    Because it’s the most iconic Tales release after Tales of Symphonia, I went into Tales of Vesperia with very high expectations. I had enjoyed Tales of the Abyss on the PlayStation 2 and thought that Vesperia might take that formula to the next level. Visually, it certainly does. Tales of Vesperia is an unequivocally gorgeous RPG, easily one of the best looking games in the series. And the combat system, drip fed as it is, provides consistent entertainment. However, the storytelling holds the game back from being the classic it might have been. There is a great story buried in Tales of Vesperia---the lore is interesting enough and the main cast is stellar---but the game sometimes suffers from a severe lack of self-editing. If the storytelling was crisper and a lot more focused, Tales of Vesperia could have been an exemplary JRPG. As it is, it’s a fun and feel-good journey that sometimes overstays its welcome.

    The story is hard to summarize because it doesn’t really come into clear focus until the last third. You are Yuri, an ex-knight who lives in the Lower Quarter of the city of Zaphias. The beginning of the game has him chasing down a thief who has stolen the Lower Quarter’s blastia core. Blastia is basically an energy source that fuels all human endeavors in Terca Lumereis, Tales of Vesperia’s world. Most importantly, it helps maintain the barriers that keep monsters out of the cities. After helping a mysterious princess named Estelle (who of course has world-altering powers) escape her castle, Yuri is thrust into a journey with said princess to locate his childhood friend Flynn, who is still a knight, as well as the blastia thief. Eventually, they, along with a cast of excellent traveling companions, fight to save the world from a large-scale disturbance involving blastia, aer, and a whole lot more jargon.

    At its core, it’s a good story that has some hidden depth, particularly its commentary on vigilantism versus the law. The wealth of cliches can get a bit tiring at points and some of the dialogue is very cheesy, but there were enough surprising moments and moving conversations to keep me invested despite the game not exactly transcending JRPG storytelling conventions. If you’re looking for a story that provides constant thrills and subverts the genre, this is not it. But it does offer a kind of JRPG comfort food with a dash of intrigue and a whole lot of fun character banter.

    In fact, Vesperia is at its best when the characters are interacting with each other. Their personalities are vibrant and memorable and they are given consistent development. By the end of the game, my party felt like a true family and I was emotionally invested in all of its members. However, this means that the pace can often be meandering. For much of the game, the story inches along without much focus. Some events that initially seemed random do make more sense as you work your way through the game’s final third, but often I had a nagging “Is this story actually going anywhere?” feeling. It was headed somewhere and it eventually becomes more eventful and exciting, but the pacing is often decimated by redundant dialogue. The series’ trademark skits are relentless and a lot of them involve the characters babbling awkwardly about nothing (or worse, essentially repeating conversations that already happened via cutscenes). The skits are an excellent character development tool that the game uses to its advantage, but there didn’t need to be so many. For every delightful skit, there seems to be about two useless ones. Furthermore, I found myself tuning out when the dialogue got weighed down by huge volumes of pseudo-scientific sounding jargon. I’m not always a big fan of the “less is more” storytelling philosophy but boy would Tales of Vesperia have benefited from some judicious cutting.

    Design-wise, the game is much more consistent. The world map does feel a bit dated, with monsters awkwardly popping in and out and wonky weather and time cycles, but the world itself is very well conceived with some beautiful locales. Towns are a delight to inhabit because they are so visually varied; they all have memorable themes and landmarks. More importantly, most of them matter in terms of the game’s story and lore. Even two consecutive port towns managed to feel very different from one another, which speaks to the amount of thought that went into the design of Terca Lumereis. However, as beautiful as these towns are, I wish they were bigger and more explorable. The game sections off a very small piece of them and while that small piece is often very attractive and charismatic, it does end up feeling like a missed opportunity. A few more explorable interiors would have done a lot to make the towns feel more lived-in and expansive.

    That being said, the game’s dungeons are pretty stellar across the board. It’s not that any of them are doing anything out of the ordinary. They offer nothing that a seasoned JRPG player hasn’t seen before, but they hit such a sweet spot in terms of variation, length, tasteful gimmicks, non-intrusive puzzles, and relevance to the story (only the final dungeon feels like a slog). It helps that the game doesn’t have random encounters. In general, Tales of Vesperia has many quality of life features that make the overall experience accessible and smooth, which is why it feels so strange when the game randomly violates those principles. I’m thinking of a moment when I was stuck in the desert and low on supplies and the game didn’t let me go back to town. Thankfully, moments like this are rare.

    While Tales of Vesperia’s world map can be a bit of an eyesore, everything else looks wonderful. Character designs are crisp and appealing and the game sports a quasi-cell shaded style, giving the varied locales a pleasing soft oil pastel look. It was like journeying through a series of water-color paintings. What the visuals lack in detail, they make up for in personality and verve. I especially enjoyed the campy villain designs. The sound, on the other hand, is not anything to write home about. I love the main theme, both the pop and orchestral versions, and there were a few tracks that mildly bopped, but overall, the music was a bit on the bland side. Serviceable but not great.

    Perhaps the real star of the show is the combat. Tales of Vesperia has a real-time action-based system that, with its emphasis on combos and timing, feels more like that of fighting game than a traditional JRPG. You can pause the action to use items and switch characters in battles, which does a lot to introduce an element of variation and strategy, but the key to victory in Vesperia is momentum. Once you’ve mastered the art of stringing together combos, you can dominate the bosses in a way that feels immensely satisfying and rhythmic. The combat system is unlocked slowly and it can even feel clunky at first, but when it all comes together, the battles are thrilling, stylish, and a sight to behold. It helps that the boss battles strike a good balance between accessibility and challenge. Some of the bosses were hard, but, with the exception of the final boss’s second form, they felt fair.

    In addition to the fighting itself, the game offers a robust set of customization tools. You gain access to what feels like more weaponry than what is usual for an RPG of Tales of Vesperia’s length, but these weapons are most notable for all the passive skills they can give you if you grind with them equipped ala Final Fantasy IX. The skills system is not well explained, but they can really enhance your experience in battle if you know which ones to set. In general, Tales of Vesperia strikes a good balance between accessibility and more depth under the hood for those who want it. You can probably beat the game by beating up enemies and bosses with Yuri in a straightforward way, but to become truly competent with the battle system, you’ll need to change party compositions and utilize your other characters’ unique skillsets. There is certainly more to Tales of Vesperia’s combat system than what meets the eye.

    Ultimately, Tales of Vesperia does most things right and not much wrong, but sometimes the game tested my patience with its lack of forward momentum and its reams upon reams of unnecessary dialogue. If the game was offering a narrative that was more out of the box, this might be more forgivable, but its use of standard JRPG tropes begs for a more streamlined approach. That being said, when you’re not giving a difficult boss a chance to breathe because you’ve become so adept at stringing together combos or your characters are having a heartwarming or funny exchange, the game’s pacing shortcomings feel less like a burden. I just wish the game could have gotten out of its own way enough to reach true greatness.

    VISUALS & SOUND: 4/5
    DESIGN: 4.5/5
    GAMEPLAY: 4.5/5
    OVERALL: 8/10
    Last edited: May 24, 2022
    Mr Blonde, Jonathan27 and Jawshxx like this.
  2. Just started Tales of Arise. It looks gorgeous but am I the only one who thinks it’d look better without the watercolour effect? It looks like a cheap filter at times and sorta cheapens all the work they put in..
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
    ohaimanabu likes this.
  3. Honestly the watercolor effects are nice enough where I feel they actually add to the ‘overall’ anime jrpg asthetic juuuuuust enough. Im gooped at how pretty the game has looked in the first 4 hours!
    Jawshxx, evilsin and soratami like this.
  4. Color me impressed with some of the small quality-of-life touches in Tales of Acclaim. Being pinged when you have enough SP for the skill you want is not something I've seen in other games.

    I kind of want the victory screen back, though. The seamless transition is technically impressive but a little anticlimactic.
    evilsin and soratami like this.
  5. I wish I could dedicate the time to JRPGs like y'all do. I play them for an hour, get to a difficult spot, either quit or put it down for months and then forget what was even going on.
    ohaimanabu and flapjack- like this.
  6. I think it's probably for the best there's no victory screen. I mean it does look cool, but is it really something you need to see hundreds of times? And you still get battle results and the typical post-battle chatter even without the victory screen anyway. Though one thing that's a bit odd is that there's no way to see the breakdown of your score multiplier after a battle, you just get a number and that's it.

    I agree regarding the quality of life improvements though. One thing I really appreciate is the ability to tell whether a NPC has something new to say or not just by looking at them. It's not new (Zestiria and Berseria already had that), but it's just so convenient, I wish every RPG, or just every game with a bunch of NPCs you can talk to, had something like that.
    Mr Blonde likes this.
  7. Anyone else looking forward to Forspoken? I think it looks fantastic, especially as a new game not based on any source material.

    Obviously Ragnarok, Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine look ridiculously good too.
  8. He


    Wait, was there any gameplay of Spiderman 2 or Wolverine?
  9. Anyone familiar with this game?

    I don't think I'd ever heard about it until like a couple of days ago (it just came out), but it looks quite cool, very reminiscent of the criminally underrated Alice: Madness Returns.
    evilsin and dontkillmyvibe like this.
  10. This looks cool! Let me add it to my wishlist.
    soratami likes this.
  11. Decided to play I Am Setsuna next. I'm in love with the music and atmosphere. Both are so lovely. I get Final Fantasy X teas from some of the songs I've heard so far.
    evilsin and soratami like this.
  12. So I have no idea how far into Divinity I am, if what I have done is right, if I am going the right way or if I am doing it all wrong and I am loving every minute of it.
    evilsin and Gemini like this.
  13. So I finally started Zero Horizon Dawn after downloading it when it was free and I feel like I already want to give up. It's clearly a beautiful game, but after Tomb Raider and Uncharted, I don't know if I want to play another game that's making stealth my way through when I just want to run around shooting stuff.

    Does the stealth/sneaking remain a big part of the game all the way through?
  14. Yeah, I am really looking forward to it. I am interested to see what the team behind F15 come up with now without the major pressure.
    wickedbruv likes this.
  15. If you haven’t played it yet, Control is what you’re looking for! It’s got a proper forward-moving, attacking style of play which is loads of fun.
  16. Oh, I've heard of that, but never played it. So I'll give that a go, thank you.
  17. No. Just cinematic trailers. The developers for Wolverine admitted they have barely started. I'll be surprised if it comes out 2023. It does seem odd they are making ANOTHER Wolverine game with no movie attached to it. How about other X-Men characters???
  18. I love everything about Tales of Arise so far except for the story. I’ve nearly wrapped up the Elde Menancia section of the plot and it’s starting to go off the rails.
  19. I’m not all that far and while I’m loving the exploration and battles. I don’t mind the story but I hope the characters become more likeable because Shione is doing way too much and Alphen chasing her around like a little puppy complimenting her at every turn is getting slightly old.
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