Tales of the Abyss Mar 23, 2011 8:47:30 GMT -5
Post by Bytor on Mar 23, 2011 8:47:30 GMT -5
I often say this is a case of the haves and have not's, lol. This game is certainly a great example of this. The rendition of the characters throughout the game is wonderfully done. While bearing similar aspects (as would befit basically one species on one planet) all of the individual are still individualistic, except for the Replicas of course! The interesting thing about the graphics is that basically there are three different styles. When in real time everyone looks a certain way. Then there are cut scenes that are story board with bits of animations, these are more of discussions among the group which provide both insights and a back story into the game, and then there are full blown cut scenes which look tremendous, unfortunately if memory serves me there are less than five of these! Don't get me wrong, the regular action scenes still look really nice as well. Luke/Asch, Tear, Guy and company look great although once again I realize that not everyone will like the typical anime look. There's the "have". Now, for the "have not's". The various areas you travel through (multiple times I might add, more on that later) look a tad bland and repetitive. While each city is certainly different there is still nothing really outstanding about the graphics there, with the exceptions of the entrances to Baticul and Yulia City, and the overall look of Hod (now that was IMO done wonderfully) pretty cool looking. Honestly I'm not gonna bash this aspect too much because while not great it was still certainly acceptable. Here's what I am going to bash...short and to the point. The enemies for the vast majority looked like someone forgot to design them until one day before the games release, like they said OK, wow, we forgot enemies, who can draw...and draw fast...we need enemies! Still, overall while not a totally great looking game the overall look and feel did match the game, and to me that's more important than great graphics and a mediocre game.
Awesome music! Each area had it's own theme and pretty much all were really, really well done. Pretty much the only vocals (in the songs) were when Tear was singing the Hymns, awesome as well BTW but the soundtrack is still one that (unlike some JRPG's) is very soothing at times, very intense at times, and most importantly almost never freaking annoying! The voice acting as well was superb! Everyone's voice fit their character wonderfully and portrayed the emotions needed (without going soooo over the top) that you certainly developed a rapport with them.
The gameplay to a certain extent takes backseat to the story in this game. There is only one small problem with the gameplay and that is the battle system itself. The battles essentially boil down to real time events where you directly control one player (who is actually "on rails" unless you use a learned skill called free run) and use a simple button pushing technique to accomplish regular attacks. Where the system gets a tad harder is also where it tends to be a tad less effective as well as harder to use. What happens is under certain conditions fonic attacks can be used. These can be chained together to form much more powerful attacks...in theory. The reality is these attacks (with the exception of the Mystic artes attacks) simply take too long to accomplish, are too unpredictable and difficult to set up and are simply nowhere as effective (albeit it funner to use) as the regular attacks. I also felt the game simply did not explain succinctly enough exactly how/when to use these attacks. I learned through more of a trial and error experience. Still, overall the battles are challenging and even normal battles can, and will, kill you if you don't pay attention. Your allies can also be directly controlled by using a command (which pauses the action) and instructing them as to what action to do. And while they will occasionally do something stupid for the most part I found it easier, and just as effective to use set commands (set up in battle menu outside of battles) and just kind of let them "do their thing". Overall, not a perfect battle system but still a challenging and entertaining one. The game itself is somewhat linear and this will at times annoy you as you may be in the middle of a side quests and be unable to go where you need to because the game insist you go somewhere story driven. This is also one of it's strengths to be honest. The story is so complex that at times I liked the fact that at times I was pretty much told exactly where I needed to go, although it's not as easy at it sounds, you may know you need to go to Belkend but once there you still have to figure out what to do. Puzzles are, for the most part few and far between as well, and I don't count learning how to navigate an area as a puzzle, and the ones that do exist do not require a PhD, although the mirror thing in Mt. Roneal did annoy me for awhile, lol. There are plenty of side quests and they actually serve a purpose for the most part. I loved that, it wasn't simply a to do list for NPC's, instead by accomplishing them you get better weapons, armor, etc., although to be honest I had so much money about half way through the game that I could pretty much buy anything I needed. And you will want to talk to everyone, you never know what they might give you or what tidbit of information they might offer. Simply very, very, very little to complain about in this game. Except...be prepared for very long load times, but I got over that issue due to other strengths the game exhibits.
OK...well, let's see, how to sum up this story in less than 5000 words. You start as Luke fon Fabre a rich spoiled son of a Duke who was kidnapped when young and has no memories of his childhood. In order to further protect him he is basically kept prisoner in his own mansion. One day a stranger comes to town named Tear and tries to kill Luke's weapon master. In the ensuing battle Luke and Tear are transported away from Baticul. Tear decides to escort Luke back to Baticul, along the way they find that the two major kingdoms are close to war. It is then (read eventually) revealed that the entire world is on the verge of destruction due to rival factions believing they know what is best for the future. Whew, and that barely touched the surface. The complex storyline rivals ANYTHING I've ever played, and I mean anything, Xenosaga, Shin Megami games, FF series, ANYTHING. This has to be not only one of the most convoluted stories I've every experienced but also one of the best! The interactions between the factions are complex and have myriad plot lines and show us that the world is not always black and white. The story is written so well, although it does develop slowly (you have time though, I logged 96 hrs and 45 mins from start to finish) that you will be totally immersed and emotionally involved. Simply little to complain about, unless you don't pay attention, and even then there is a library where you can read a synopsis, and I mean synopsis, the entire story can be read from start up to where you currently are in the game, and even playing it's worth reading. This game should be a movie! It's seriously that good!
Yes, it has some faults, and yes, those faults can be annoying (button mashing battle system, hard to use special attacks) but, this is a classic case of the sum being much, much greater than the parts. There is not one single aspect (although the story is close, lol) that makes it a great game, instead overall it simply is! Now, it's not for everyone, if you like/want non-stop action (play GOW) then this game is NOT for you. The pace is slow and evolved and it does take forever to accomplish anything. You will, seriously, visit the same locations time and time again simply to talk to a NPC about something vital to the story, but oh what a wondrous long convoluted tale it was!
PS...OMG WHAT an ending!!!!