Tales of the Abyss - first look

The lead character of the story is Luke, a red-haired teen with a big-ass sword. Though this spoiled rich kid seems to whine a lot about his problems, he's an expert swordsman who's spent his whole life training with a blade. His partner in crime is the sexy Tear, a young warrior who wraps him up in her problems after she sneaks onto his manor home - to kill his sword teacher. Before long, they begin to travel the world in search of ancient mysteries. But enough about that; the main reason you play a Tales game is for the battles.

And what battles this game has. The series lives (Symphonia) or dies (Legendia) by the strength of its combat. The encounters are always fast-paced bursts of button tapping. Abyss is no exception, and a few little tweaks look like they just might elevate it up to a new level. Though the visuals are 3D, the game locks you into a head-on approach. Fortunately, you'll be so busy tossing out special attacks and dodging your enemies that it's not much of a concern. Your partners will back you up in battle by casting spells and launching their own special attacks. It's a frenzy of humongous special attacks and sizzling magical effects, and once you get the moves down pat, it's usually pretty damn rewarding.