Whether or not you like the combat, you can’t deny that Tales of Vesperia looks amazing. We were promised HD graphics that rivaled the detail of broadcast-quality cel-shading; and developer Project Vesperia delivered. The environments – from the first dungeon on through the final battlefield – are amazingly rich in color, depth and detail. You could walk through a town three times and still not take in everything in the background. And the character designs from Ah! My Goddess’s Kyosuke Fujishima fairly pop off the screen with myriad animations and facial expressions that add a layer of realism to this cartoon-ish RPG.
It’s not all roses, though. Despite the evolved in-game graphics, Tales of Vesperia still uses fully animated cutscenes during key plot points and during the old-school “talking heads” optional cutscenes that occur while wandering through the world. The flat, 2D animation don’t really jibe with the rich 3D graphics and we found ourselves avoiding the “talking heads” cutscenes because we didn’t want to stare at ugly cartoons when we could be watching pretty, pretty 3D stuff (even if the dialog was hilarious).
Tales of Vesperia is an incredibly deep experience. Thanks to the high quality of each of its parts (gameplay, plot, graphics, music, voice-acting), it’s deeply satisfying even when it’s mind-blowingly frustrating. You could be done with the story arc in 30-40 hours, but between optional bosses, hidden dungeons, side-quests and the glorious cooking system, you could spend months exploring the wide word in Tales of Vesperia. So dock a point if you can’t stand all the nasty things JRPGs do to you (random mini-games, fake-out last bosses, multi-part cutscenes), and add a point if you live and breath anime angst – but don’t doubt that Tales of Vesperia is one of the best JRPG experiences out there.
Aug 26, 2008