Video Game Reviews

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

Nintendo Wii

Summary:

The world is in chaos after having been fused together from two previously separated worlds (Sylvarant and Tethe'alla); in short the climate is out of control, the landscape has been completely altered and the civilisations from both worlds are in conflict with each other due to the huge gap in their technology and differing beliefs... as a result of the conflict, many of the Slyvaranti people have joined together to form a resistance army called the Vanguard, who wish to rise against the more advanced Tethe'allans civilisation in order to gain their power and technology and ultimately end their perceived oppression once and for all...

You play as Emil, a young man who finds himself only able to watch in horror as the people of his home town Palmacosta including his parents are slaughtered in what is claimed to be an attack by the Tethe'allans on the people of Sylvarant... orphaned as a result he is sent away to live with his aunt and uncle who treat him like an outsider and who are fearful of his support for the Vanguard especially following the events in Palmacosta...

Seemingly sentenced to a life of misery with his relatives, things change dramatically one day when he finds himself thrust into action to protect a young lady called Marta who he later discovers may hold the key to bringing the world back into harmony and bringing peace to the warring civilisations in the process, which is where things really start to happen and the game then begins fully...

The game itself is an Action-RPG style game, with real-time battles and several RPG style elements combined together to give a gaming experience which diversifies itself from the standard Final Fantasy style RPG gaming style most are used to. As you progress through the game you are also able to ally yourself with monsters, which can join your party as active characters, levelled up and trained in new skills and techniques. There are also several side quests and secrets hidden throughout the game to reward the more curious gamers out there...

It also follows on directly on from the “Tales of Symphonia" game on the Nintendo Gamecube, with many locations and characters from the original returning to add a slightly nostalgic experience for those gamers who played through the first adventure for themselves; there’s even a small reward for anyone who still has a completed save file for the original game!

Pros:

- The soundtrack suits the game perfectly

- The graphical style is very similar to the Gamecube version, although really it’s not a major issue as the visual style suits the game well

- You no longer need to walk around the global map to move to each location; this allows you to get from place to place much more easily and focus more on the actual dungeons and tasks at hand

- The additional quests are varied and challenging enough for you to want to put some time into exploring them all, at least for an added challenge as well as for some of the items and you can collect along the way

- The controls are easy to get used to, smooth and responsive

- For Pokémon fans the ability to have monsters join your party, level them up and evolve them will be a major bonus, although fans of the series might have preferred to have been able to focus on levelling up the main characters instead

- Changing your core special attacks (artes) and equipped skills is easy and allows you to adjust your character's fighting style and controls to your own general preferences

- The "Grade Shop" option to gain additional options the next time you play the game based on your performance throughout the game is a great bonus and rewards gamers for their efforts fairly and effectively, adding a lot to the replay value to the game

- Generally while having played the Gamecube version would help you with understanding the storyline, it isn't mandatory to know it as most things are generally explained along the way sufficiently enough

- The puzzle elements in the dungeons have been notably simplified compared to the ones found in the Gamecube original; while some of them are still fairly detailed there shouldn't be anything too extreme or vague for you to work out, especially if you were able to solve the puzzles in the Gamecube original...

Cons:

- The storyline seems fairly broken up at times, with the overall objectives you have getting mixed into a lot of sub-plots and twists, making the overall sense of progress difficult to judge at times

- The dialogue scenes can sometimes be very slow, predictable and repetitive (there's only so many times you can do one flashback); also the character specific ultimate attacks (Mystic Artes) which you can use during battles are actually quite lengthy, which while looking impressive enough the first few times you use them do get a little repetitive, especially if you want to use them a lot in battle... (It would also be nice if in the second playthrough you could just completely skip the scenes on the assumption you already know what will happen)

- There is a lot of idle backtracking just to advance the storyline where you simply move from one location to another just to see another scene before you can progress further; this can feel very tedious and pointless at times, although for an RPG style game I guess this is expected to some degree...

- There are far too many characters which cannot be levelled up or upgraded and who join your team far too randomly to be used reliably and effectively throughout the game; the constant switching does also require you to revise your team tactics and formations frequently

- The team formations & tactics are much more limited than in the original ToS game, which can be frustrating and tedious in some battles where certain formations available in the original game would be very effective, yet applying them in this version of the game is either impossible or restricted notably

- Cooking food to level up your monsters further isn't a bad idea, however doing this everytime a monster levels up to take full advantage of it is very time consuming and isn’t helped by the fact that it can only be done in certain locations; the sheer amount of backtracking it involves can ultimately kill the flow of the game, especially when navigating the dungeons

- It is difficult to know when you will next be in a boss battle; at times you may enter a door thinking you’ll just be in another area with a save point to save your progress and heal your party, but instead you’ll find yourself having to fight a boss without any time to check your team's status and tactics beforehand, heal your team, etc.

Similar Games:

- Tales of Symphonia [Nintendo Gamecube]

- Tales of the Abyss [Playstation 2]

- Tales of Vesperia [X-Box 360]

Overall:

Although a few things have changed compared to the original, but nothing has impacted the overall experience negatively and this sequel to "Tales of Symphonia" is a solid enjoyable adventure in its own right, with plenty to keep you interested throughout and plenty of side quests and secrets to uncover along the way...

While some elements of the game may not appeal to all gamers (such as the monster raising elements) and the overall complexity of the RPG elements may not be to the same level found in games like the Final Fantasy series, it doesn’t really take away from the overall enjoyment of the game and it remains an enjoyable RPG experience in its own right; if you’ve yet to play any of the games in the “Tales” series and you have a Nintendo Wii, then this may well be worth your time and effort getting into.

Final Score: 8/10

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________


BACK