Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Tales of Graces f
Score: 89%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
The Tales series has been around for many years now, spanning quite a few different gaming systems. Now, the latest saga in the story, Tales of Graces f is available on the PS3.

The first thing you'll see in any game is the intro video. Normally, I just skip them quickly but for some reason, I wanted to watch this one. The opening music isn't quite what I expected. I'm not used to hearing a song whose chorus is, "I believe your love, I believe in your love..." as the theme to an RPG. The whole intro looks more like a romantic anime than a fighting game, but it is a beautiful intro and the game is much more action than the intro makes it look like. Once you get into the game, you will notice that the animation, characters, and the area maps look and feel just like the previous Tales games. Since they take place on the same world, in some places you'll find that you even recognize the areas from previous games. Some of the enemies also look very similar as well, but just a bit different as if they have changed over time. I really like that even though you're picking up a totally new game, things still feel a bit familiar.


Gameplay:
First things first. Be prepared to give your system just a bit of time before you can start playing Tales of Graces f as it has to install game data. It only took a few minutes though, about 8 on my system. After you start a new game, you will be playing as Asbel Lhant, 11 years old. Asbel and his younger brother Hubert are on their way up the cliffs of Lhant Hill to look at the flowers. Although that seems like an odd idea for an 11 year old boy, he wants to go there because their dad said not to. At the top in the flowers, they find a girl who's a bit older than Asbel. She doesn't seem to know anything about this world. She said she had been asleep, but his voice woke her up. She can't tell them her name or where she's from or anything, really, so they decide that she has amnesia and take her back to town with them. They run into Cheria there. Cheria is about the same age as Asbel and has a crush on him. Cheria gets tired very easily though, because she has an illness so they left her behind when they went to Lhant Hill.

When they get back from the hill, Lord Lhant tells them that there is a guest coming from the capital and even though he is their age, they are not to disturb him for any reason. Of course, kids aren't going to listen, so they sneak in the window and meet Richard, whom they later learn is the prince. Richard, Asbel, and Sophie (the amnesia) make a friendship pact in the large tree at the top of the cliff after surviving an adventure. Asbel along with Sophie will be your main character. Joining them at various times will be Richard, Cheria, Hubert, and quite a few others, after they grow up. A few hours into the game (4 hours for me), everything changes and the real challenge starts. Your characters will have aged 7 years and be reunited over the course of time. I did find it hard to play through some of the beginning as you just don't have your full artes and such yet, but once things really got going, Tales of Graces f was addictive. After several more hours (12 total for me), things completely change yet again and just like in the real world, your characters will learn that things aren't always as they seem. I'm still dying to find out what happens and at about 20 hours, I'm hopefully nearing halfway. There is just so much to do in the game! There are all sorts of bonus things to do like collect seeds for Sophie to plant in Lhant, find discoveries, collect titles, collect Magic Carta cards for a game (some of your favorite characters from past games show up in the Magic Carta cards), and much more!

There is also a new selection on the Title Screen after you've created a game save. It is called Trial of Graces. Basically, it is just a collection of new "special" battles that you can't find during the game. When you select it, it will use the current party from whatever game save you select. You can use any game save that you have on your system.


Difficulty:
Tales of Graces f provides several different difficulty levels so that you can play it easy and just enjoy the storyline or you can make it very difficult and enjoy the challenge as well. At first, you can choose from Easy, Normal, Moderate or Hard. There is also a Chaos level available, but you will have to unlock it before you can play it. You can't start right off in Chaos, no matter how many previous Tales games you have beaten.

Like any RPG, you can make your life as difficult or as easy as you want. If you run around killing monsters continually to just level up, you will find things a lot easier, but that also takes a lot of time. Tales of Graces f provides things you can do as you go to make it so that you don't have to grind as much. For instance, each character has their own set of titles. Each titles have 5 skills that you can learn when that title is equipped. Once you learn a skill, you have it so make sure that you keep up with these titles and learn the skills that you want more. As with any RPG, there are healing items. But, you can only hold 15 of any one item, so you better get to mixing if you want a whole bunch of healing potions on hand. Cooking is a bit different from before. Instead of cooking on the road, you have a Mixer that you can equip dishes, books, and more in. While in battle, your mixer will automatically cook up dishes that will help you if you have the ingredients and have enough Eleth in the mixer. This means that you need to keep various items on hand and make sure to keep your mixer charged. You can upgrade your armor, weapons, and other items at the shops with Dualize. You can make gels, items, and pretty much anything with a process called Dualize at any shop in the town. For example, gel seed + apple = apple gel. I highly recommend you do this to keep your weapons and armor at the highest level you can get. You will also have to Dualize dishes to learn them before you can put them in the mixer. Also, check in at the inns. There are requests at the inn that if you bring certain items, you will get things in return. These can be very helpful!


Game Mechanics:
If you've played any of the Tales games before, the controls in Tales of Graces f will feel very familiar to you as they are the same as before. The game does a really great job of going over the basics as you need them, but there are a few that you won't learn until later on. You also will need to learn some things from talking to people and animals. I found the dogs had a lot of advice. Things like if you forget where to go, hold down L1 (while not in battle) and it will tell you. I learned from a dog! Although the world might look like you can free-roam, there are often things to block your way keeping you on specific paths. I like this in a way because it blocks off paths that will just waste my time a lot of the time, but I do like to be able to go wherever I want, so I did find it annoying at times.

I really do love the Tales series. Although I was not as addicted to Tales of Graces f instantly like I was with Tales of the Abyss or Tales of Vesperia, once I got further into it, I found the complexities fascinating. Now I just need time to find out what happens to these characters that I have really come to love! If you're a fan of RPGs, I recommend that you pick up Tales of Graces f today. It is a great addition to the series!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Related Links:



This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.