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Tales of Legendia

Developer: Namco | Publisher: Namco
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 02/07/06 | Genre: RPG

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The long running Tales series from Namco is well known around the world for its creative universes and its fast paced battle system. Releasing various games on older platforms such as Sony’s Playstation and Nintendo’s Gamecube, Namco has finally released a full three dimension game for the Playstation 2. But how does it stack up against the previous games or other role playing games out at the moment?

The game starts off on a boat in the middle of the sea where a young man named Senel Coolidge is traveling to the unknown with a young girl named Shirley Fennes. You get attacked by various sea creatures when you see a magical white light. Next you know you’re washed ashore a beach. Shirley has a great allergy for seawater and could die if consumed by a certain amount. The only way to cure her at the moment is placing her under pure water (she can breathe under water). Luckily this isn’t a task throughout the game as Shirley is kidnapped various times by people calling her the “Merinesâ€?. The story in Tales of Legendia starts off slow but quickly picks up into an interesting adventure. Comparing this game to previous Tales installments Namco has released, Legendia follows practically the same adventure pattern. One person you know can destroy or save the world as you know it and you have to help him/her to choose the right side. Legendia is a mix of drama, action, adventure, romance and of course comedy but its nothing we haven’t seen before in any other Tales game. The best thing about the story though, is the fact that it keeps going even when the main game is done. After the credits roll by, you’d think its over, but its not, there are something called the ‘Character Quests’ where you play through different characters Quest, because really when the game ended, it did leave a lot of questions. But I’ll talk about that on in the review. Overall the story will keep you interested and it’s something everybody will love.
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Visually Legendia is one of the most beautiful games on the Playstation 2. The game has a huge world to explore with well modeled environments and characters. Everything in the world is very colorful as it lights up your television. You can tell right off the bat, this game isn’t dark at all (other than all the death in the game) like Shin Megami’s series, but the Tales games were never meant to be dark what-so-ever, its always been about bringing you into a beautiful rich world with lively characters, and that’s what Tales of Legendia has accomplished. The character models throughout the game look smooth and even cartoony. Unlike previous installments of the Tales games, this is the first fully three dimensional Tales game, this gives the game a different tilt because I’ve always been a huge fan of the sprites and cel-shading techniques but this game struck my eyes first time I saw it in action. Animations are very fluent as every emotion is captured solid and every action from characters and the environments is all done in a realistic sense but at the same time you can tell they were aiming for a Japanese anime/manga feel. There is no three dimensional rendered movies, instead like previous Tales games there are Japanese Anime like videos, which looks pure amazing by the way. You can tell lots of detail and time went into them although there is only twenty-one short video animations which kind of make it confusing to know that they made all this great detailed work only to be shown five to ten seconds at a time (a couple are a little longer). Graphically the game is beautiful, a great cast of characters that are well developed and designed with their own unique personality and a stunning Japanese Anime/Manga feel (the again this game was made in Japan).

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Everyone who has played a Tales game before knows about the fast paced battle system, and Tales of Legendia doesn’t break away from the trend. In the battle system the whole map is three dimensional but you will be playing in a two dimensional screen meaning you can only go left, right and jump up, know going around in circles. This is exactly like the previous games, which is good because this system is a classic, but they have upped it from before. The in-game battles are beautiful to look at with the colorful three-dimensional world and the cheerful looking characters even though you are stuck on a two-dimensional screen. This is similar to Tales of Symphonia for the Nintendo Gamecube, although that the game has a cel-shaded look to it, the game has three dimensional backgrounds yet you are limited to what you see left right and up. This can be a little awkward for newcomers but very easy to get into, it’s almost like a button masher but it’s a fun and enjoyable experience any game will have. In battles there are a couple things you can do. Attack of course but you can set Eres attacks (special attacks) like previous game to a specific order of buttons (example: left and circle). This gives the game a more creative and customizable feel to it. There is also something called a Climax mode, this builds up by beating on enemies for a while and when it’s full you can unleash it by pressing a specific button. This slows down time for your enemy and gives you more time to smack your enemy around or run back and heal, hit the button once again and you’ll unleash a special move where all character in the battle will team up and spring a huge combo on an enemy that will take great damage but the only thing sis that, no matter who you are, the climax move is basically the same, they could have added a few different specials in the game. Now one of the best things about the battle system is the ability to choose one of the eight unique characters in the game to play as, in each battle. This gives the game a bit of replayability but you’ll just find yourself choosing the two characters who deal with close combat like Senel and Chloe (a female knight) only because its not that much fun standing back and casting magic. Another factor in the battle system is the ‘grades’. Based on your performance in each battle, the game will reward you with a grand from -100 (worst) to +100 (best). At first I didn’t know what it was for but after you beat the game you can purchase various items, weapons/amour and even special costumes for your characters. This will make you want to fight as many battles in order to obtain these cool valuables. The Tales of Legendia battle system is one of the greatest systems in video game history (based on my opinion) as it always keeps you on the edge of your seat. Its pure fun to be had although I’m still questioning what ever happened to the multiplayer? It’d be awesome to sit down with a friend and fight along side with him but I suppose we will just have to wait and see what Namco does for the next game.

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Namco always surprises me in the sound department. No only are the Eres attacks well designed, visually, but the sound effects are all top notch and not to mention the music in the game, its some of the best orchestrated and well placed cinematic moments I’ve heard in along time, it makes you feel like you’re really traveling around in this gorgeous world. Voice acting is another plus only because nearly every single scene you encounter is fully voiced by great voice actors (like Cam Clarke, best know from his role in Tales of Symphonia as Kratos or Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Solid). The whole experience just makes you want to play more into the game just to hear what kooky thing the characters will say next. These voice actors are pretty good but sometimes become a bit embarrassing but their voices do bring a more believable feel to each character. My personal favorite is Moses’ voice because he has such a spunky and laid back attitude (not to mention his pet dog Giet, although you don’t get to see him much). The sound quality is very well done, every voice over is well put and preformed, and the best part is that there are hundreds of if not in the thousands of voiced lines in the script but the only thing that would have been nice is if they got voice over for the Character Quests after the main game ends. There are absolutely no voiceovers (other than an embarrassing song) which makes you wonder what happened, because you have been so use to listening to the crazy voiceovers but now you have to read all this text without a hint of voices, its like they lost not only their narration but their personalities as well.

The main game last roughly thirty to forty hours and then a variety of hours after the main quest ends with the character quests, which is nice to see more replayability and closing all the open gaps they left open at the end of the main quest. There is also a battle difficulty meter you can fool with which have the setting, easy, normal and hard, but they aren’t much of a difference. There is also a customization shop after the main game where you can mix items in order to make more powerful weapons, armor and items, a fun way to see what you can do after the game. And of course the grade shop [I was talking about] when you beat the character quests. This allows you to purchase new items to play through on your second time around because the game will keep track of your completions. These are many factors that help the game accomplish a more replayable value and will have you playing the game for many hours to come.

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Overall the game is brilliant in many ways. A story that’ll keep you interested eight unique playable characters, a fast paced battle system and lots of replayability with Character Quests and customization shops. While it feels weird to have Grandia III released a week after Tales of Legendia, both games go up against each other, and personally I have to give the nudge to Tales of Legendia. This game gives the Role Playing title a good name, as it uses advanced old school mechanics and just a colorful massive world they left you to explore. This game is so good, I could see it being turned into a Japanese Anime like Tales of Eternia and Phantasia did. There are a couple things Namco could have added, like Multiplayer or voiceovers in the Character Quests but for now, we will just have to live with it and enjoy this rare experience.

By Adam Beck - 03/04/06
ESRB Details: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes
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Screenshots for Tales of Legendia

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