Tales of Graces F Review (PS3)

Having played the “Tales of” series since the original Playstation’s “Tales of Destiny”, I think I could be qualified as a fan of the series. To me the game stood out from the other RPG games of that time with its art style, and a battle system that was quite different from the norm. Though the battle system has evolved throughout the series, thankfully it has always stayed true to its roots. From the first game, Tales of Phantasia for the Super Famicom (which did not release in the US until the gameboy advance), until its previous release, Tales of Vesperia (not counting Tales of the  Abyss 3D), the series has always been one that fans of the JRPG genre have enjoyed.

Too many RPGs these days try to cater to the western audience. It seems as though many of them have not done too well, and I think that it’s possibly because doing so takes away from why people enjoyed them in the first place. Many others never even exit Japan for other territories to enjoy them. Created by Namco Tales Studio Ltd., Tales of Graces F is the first American released Tales of title for the Playstation 3. Similar to other titles, it features an all-new cast. This is also the first Tales of title that features 3 different story arcs. It starts with the childhood arc, moves into the adulthood arc, and finally concludes with the future arc.

The game follows Asbel Lhant, who is set to be the next ruler of the city of Lhant by his father, but Asbel would rather become a knight, even going as far as to defy his father’s wishes. Asbel’s brother Hubert is a shy and timid younger brother who looks up to his older brother. Another character, Cheria, is a friend of Abel and Hubert. She is frail and gets sick quite often. One day when Asbel is exploring, he runs into a mysterious girl who has no memories or name, and he promises to protect her. Asbel’s adventure also starts off with the meeting of a young boy named Richard who will one day be the next king. After enduring a fall off of a cliff that could have ended tragically, Asbel, Richard, and Sophie make a pact to remain friends. However, an attack on Sophie and Cheria ends up with Sophie losing her life. After this, Asbel is determined to become a knight so that he can protect the ones he cares about.

Tales of Graces F uses the “Style Shift Linear Motion Battle System”. It’s an odd name, but it has some promising features, and there are two different styles of fighting per character using both A-Arts and B-Arts. A-arts are pre-set. Most physical techniques are different depending on the direction you hit, leading to different combos. A-arts are learned as you progress through the game, and as you use them more. B-arts are special techniques you unlock by leveling up titles which can be gained via certain special events (a familiar addition to fans). B-arts get more powerful the more you use them, and by unlocking titles that give the arts more power. Using them more often may even help to unlock other B-arts. A-Arts are similar in how you power them up, and both run on a chain limit which is similar to an SP bar. Every movement or action uses a certain amount of the bar, including spells and the dodge move. There is no MP in this title, but instead the chain bar refills as you stand still or block.

Weapons can be bought or found in the game. Using the Eleth Mixer allows you to mix items to create food, gels, and other items that will prove to be helpful and earn more gald. Using crystals, you can level up weapons’ attack properties, and even create something new altogether; which will be key in later dungeons or in harder modes.

The Tales of series has always had a strong OST which has helped to make them memorable and fun, and Tales of Graces F has a soundtrack that will remind you of the older Tales games while adding a bit more. This would be a great CD to go out and buy, especially the memorable battle theme. There are also some great storyline characters you’ll discover as you go about adventuring. The game is filled with silly romance, a great story, and a very unique 3D anime style. It’s a great JRPG that you can play for hours on end.

Is a Hatsune Miku DLC outfit in our future?

One of the biggest add-ons for this game is the DLC costumes that span both the video games and anime universes. Namco Bandai games has played a very smart card here by featuring costumes from previous Tales of titles that includes Destiny 1 and 2, Vesperia, Symphonia, and Rebirth. There are others such as the Haseo Xth form suit for Asbel from .Hack//G.U., and additional costumes from anime like Code Geass and Idolmaster. Though there are a few costume slots missing from the US version, it’s still nice to know we are getting some of these awesome looking outfits. There are some in-game costumes you can work for by doing side quests or mini games, but everything else runs you $3.99 per character. Personally, I am waiting for the Code Geass and Vesperia ones. The Gamestop pre-order DLC unlocked 3 different costumes for Asbel, Richard, and Sophie, which featured different Tales of outfits.

JRPG fans have a new game to enjoy, and even once you complete all 3 Arcs, the game isn’t over: there are a few more difficult challenges via powerful dungeons, and plenty of collectibles including all of the titles. If you want to replay the game, you can carry over skills, items, and a lot of other things that you earned and unlocked, into a new game plus, though the amount of things you’re able to carry over is based on your grade points.

Remember the old days when you actually had to walk to your next location (including the “overhead” map), or take ships to your next location, until more than halfway through your adventure you earn your own mode of transportation? Well, if you loved it or hated it, guess what, that’s all here.

*Hours played: 75 hrs completing Childhood Arc, Adulthood Arc, Future Arc then back to Adulthood Arc to challenge the EX dungeon at level 83

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