Tales of Vesperia is a bit of an anomaly. It’s similar to Tales of Symphonia where it’s one of the better-known games in the franchise and is considered one of the best the franchise has to offer. It’s entirely possible that a big deal of the hype surrounding the game is just like Symphonia where most of its praise and hype were due to it being exclusive for a console that’s somewhat void of JRPG’s (outside of Japan). Due to this, the game sticks out like a sore thumb unlike, say an RPG on a Sony console, like the vast majority of the franchise. This is largely speculation, as I’m not far enough in the game to cast a real judgment if its worthy of its praise amongst the rest of the franchise. Onto the game itself.
I’ll start off with the biggest criticism I have with the game itself, it’s still at a fixed camera angle. It’s definitely weird that JRPG’s are one of the last genres to really become fully three-dimensional. It is a genre that’s fairly slow to break away from tradition, as it took awhile to really break away from random encounters, and being stuck in a fixed camera angle is also probably a style that the genre got stuck in. It made sense that the genre got stuck in the style because of the limitations of the PS1, and early knowledge of how to program for the PS2 (Final Fantasy was guilty of this with X and X-2). Though seeing that other big name RPG titles on the PS2 got full 3D games, it took Tales until Xillia, a later PS3 title, to transition to 3D. You would think that developing a game on a more powerful console would allow you to create a JRPG in full 3D, and Blue Dragon (a game that came out 2 years earlier) was able to be a 3D game. It doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the game, but it’s weird that RPG’s on the seventh gen consoles took awhile to be fully 3D.
The game feels very similar to Tales of the Abyss, which isn’t a surprise, as it’s the game that came directly before it. The Tales Team probably felt it was safe to just take the engine and make it with better graphics. So if you’ve played Abyss, you’ll feel at home with Vesperia. Overall battling feels like your typical Tales venture, not much to really comment on here. The only weird thing is how attacking feels weird. The A button is used to confirm menus and such, but it’s the block button, and the B button, used to cancel menus, is the attack button. It’s possible that the buttons fit how it is in Japan, as those button placements match how PlayStation games are in Japan, and Nintendo games in general, and they forgot to program the battles to fit with the North American placement of buttons. The only other game in the franchise I’ve played to this point that has this reversed button placement for battles and menus would be Zesteria.
So far the characters are pretty fun and entertaining. Yuri is a fun protagonist to play as, especially with his IDGAF attitude towards things. Estelle is an entertaining foil for Yuri’s personality, as she’s a prim and proper princess type character, and her overall ignorance of the outside world is cute and fun. Then there’s Rita, who’s the quirkier out of the initial main party members, and her quick to set people on fire is great. Repede is a badass dog, what more needs to be said? Karol is the only character who’s kind of a letdown, but we’ll see how he progresses as a character.
So far Vesperia is a pretty fun romp, and definitely a great game to pick up on the RPG starved Xbox 360.