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Tales of the Abyss - hands on

PlayStation 2 owners have it made when it comes to role-playing games. With Final Fantasy making regular appearances on the console, fans can just sit back and wait for the next big adventure to be delivered to them. This sheltered console life mirrors that of Luke, the pampered hero in Tales of the Abyss - his every whim has been tended to inside his uncle's castle, never needing to venture out and discover what else might be on the horizon.

Once he does manage to break free of his comfort zone, however, Luke slowly starts to realize how much he's been missing out on, and even though he plans on returning home, decides the adventure laid out before him is one well worth taking. So, the moral here is simple - Tales of the Abyss will likely be swallowed whole by the world-famous Final Fantasy XII in October, but those who bother to branch away from the RPG goliath will find an action-packed adventure well worth taking.



Unlike the you-go-I-go battles of most other RPGs, the Tales series puts you in direct control of your main character. After encountering monsters, you're thrust into a head-on confrontation where you can run, jump, slash and perform special moves as in any action title. This keeps the frequent battles entertaining, requiring some level of brain activity instead of banging on the "confirm" button over and over.

The addition to Abyss comes in the ability to roam freely in these battles - before, you had to target an enemy and stay on the same plane that it was on. Now, holding a button lets you run in any direction and attack the creatures from whatever side you want. Instead of just blocking an attack, you can dodge it and lay into the liger/giant crab/pile of slime with your biggest attack while it wonders where you got off to.

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