Tales of Eternia ReviewCain Dornan
Namcos Tales series has certainly spawned plenty of titles over the years, providing an abundance of classic role playing goodness that are usually driven with strong storylines and interesting characters. Attempting to fill the shortage of RPGs on the PlayStation Portable and further expand the renowned Tales franchise, Namco has recently opted to expand their Tales franchise by adding a new portable outing.
Tales of Eternia on the PSP, at its core, offers a strong storyline, an interesting lineup of characters and charming visuals, which is only barred by the annoyingly regular random battles and a battle system that can grow tiring rather quickly.
While you are not represented as a single character in the game, you largely take direct control of Reid: a proud, skilled fighter who is always willing to do battle. Throughout the game, you are accompanied with a small band of friends who aid you in battles and take active participation in any dialects that occur in the game. Your friends include Farah, a local girl who has been a close friend since a young age, and Keele, who you have also known as a child, although, not always for the best reasons. The fourth member of your traveling group is Meredy, a girl who arrived in a glowing orb from a nearby planet. Due to the different dialects that you speak, it isnt immediately known why she has arrived on your planet, with language differences preventing Reid and Farah from fluently communicating with their new alien friend. Returning to their home village to consult their elder on what they should do, they are informed that their new friend, Meredy, should be banished from the village, as bad things are sure to occur if she remains there. Refusing to simply dump their confused and lost friend into the wild, harsh world, Reid and Farah decide to go on a road trip to a distant city to consult a friend of theirs, Keele, to determine if they can learn why Meredy has arrived on their planet.
Youll soon find that your journey extends far beyond reaching the city where Keele resides. Tales of Eternia is certainly far from being a short RPG game. While it doesnt offer an expansive storyline that can lead in multiple directions like many other RPGs, the sheer length of the storyline will keep you engaged for some thirty hours or more. Thankfully, the interesting storyline manages to hold your interest from start to finish, which ensures that you wont become easily tired of the game prior to reaching the end. That is, of course, if you arent the type who simply gives up after several unsuccessful attempts at defeating a difficult enemy.
Tales of Eternia is presented in a mixture of both 2D and 3D visuals, with the camera being situated above your character whilst you are moving through the environments, with the camera then switching to a side-on scrolling view whenever you are involved in a battle. Many of the battles that you encounter are generated from random battles whilst roaming throughout the lands, although, there are occasional boss-like battles where you are required to battle a more powerful creature or person.
The games battle system is a relatively simple, often button-mashing affair. In order to initiate attacks, you need to press the appropriate button on the PSP the square button is used to perform your basic slashing attacks, while the circle button can perform a more varying array of attacks that are learnt as you progress through the game. As you directly control Reid in all battles, any allied characters that are also in the battle will attack according to the attack methods that you assign to them. Hitting the triangle button during battle brings up a small battle menu, which allows you to assign specific attacks to each character, determine how the computer controlled characters will attack during battles and also evaluate what weapons and items that your characters are currently using. Most of the battles are extremely similar, which limits the level of enjoyment that you gain from each encounter after playing the game for some time. Most players will likely grow tired of the battle system within a few hours of playing the game, with the strong storyline and the various characters that you meet along your journey proving to be the key reason on proceeding through the game.
Another positive aspect of Tales of Symphonia is the complete absence of any substantial load times. Moving in and out of battle, in addition to entering each new area, incurs absolutely no loading, which enables a clean and flowing game that isnt interrupted by annoyingly long loading screens. The ability to keep loading times to an absolute minimal is largely thanks to the games simple, yet surprisingly elegant and stylish graphics that are refreshing and interesting to watch. The simple classic animation, the type that many old-school gamers will appreciate, has remained untouched from todays sophisticated 3D visuals that are now present in most RPGs.
With the relatively small offering of quality role playing games on the PSP, it is safe to say that Tales of Eternia is one of the better games currently on the market. Although the battle system can become tiring after only several hours of play, the engaging storyline and interesting characters that you meet help to maintain your interest in the game through to the end. For those looking for a solid, lengthy RPG on the PSP, Tales of Eternia is worth a look.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.