Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition Review
The Tales franchise has been one of Japan’s most popular game franchises over the last few decades and while there has been some favorable attention in the west, the franchise has yet to hit the mainstream. Hopefully that will all change, as Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition will be one of the first tales games to be released across all major platforms, at the same time.
Tales of Vesperia originally launched worldwide exclusively on the Xbox 360 back in 2008, and was considered one of the best Tales game by many fans of the franchise; the game was later rereleased on the PS3 in 2009 exclusively in Japan with brand new content. Now, that content is coming west in the Definitive Edition of Tales of Vesperia.
Tales of Vesperia follows the adventure of Yuri Lowell, a peasant boy who lives in the lower quarter in the Imperial Capital of Zaphias. Zaphias, like all cities across Terca Lumireis, require a core call Blastia in order to create a barrier around the city to protect the inhabitants from monsters. When the Lower Quarter blastia goes missing, Yuri sets off to reclaim it, and protect his childhood home.
Of course, that is a boring “save the world” scenario we’ve seen play out across many video games, and Tales of Vesperia does well to include more twists and turns than anyone would expect, creating a story and characters that really are the focus of the overall experience.
As a Japanese action role playing game, all your traditional JRPG elements are present and accounted for, including tons of loot to collect, items to craft, and optional character backstories to engage with, all backed by traditional Japanese cel-shaded graphics and a beautiful orchestral score. It is one of Bandai Namco’s best releases in the long running Tales franchise, and many improvements have been made to bring the game into the current console generation.
Outside of the story, most JRPG titles are centered around some type of battle mechanic. The Tales series uses a real time battle system as opposed to turn based system. Players take control of any of the games various characters, and primarily use one button for normal attacks, and another to perform various artes.
With up to 4 characters on the screen at once, things can get hectic. Thankfully, you can tailor your teammates to fit your play style by changing your team strategies in the menu. If you want an all out attack, this can be toggled. By default, those with high attack stats will constantly attack enemies, while those that use ranged artes or healing artes, will often hold back.
It’s not the most in depth strategy system, but it definitely works. Changing strategies depending on the situation is one of the major keys to success in Tales of Vesperia, especially against some of the games more difficult bosses.
The World of Terca Lumireis
When not exploring the detailed cities, dungeons, and camps that dot the landscape of Terca Lumireis, players will roam around an overworld map, where enemies are visible, but also avoidable if a player so desires. The maps often lacks detail you’d hope to find in a AAA video game experience, but the various towns and buildings will often more than make up for that in terms of detail, number of NPCs, and more.
Sometimes, however, the interiors of less-important buildings – random houses for example – and some dungeons lack a bit of spice, and also make it difficult to remember (at times) where exactly you are within a dungeon. There are often few landmarks to orient yourself, so should you need to backtrack to find a chest you missed, or an enemy you need to identify for your Monster Manual, doing so could be fairly difficult, time consuming, and frankly, annoying.
While most of Tales of Vesperia is beautifully designed and created, there are still too many instances where you see something that just doesn’t look right – most noticeable in some cut scenes – which creates a sense of inconsistency throughout the experience, and can be a drawback, especially for longtime fans.
The Characters of Vesperia
Throughout your adventure, you will encounter many unique characters that will be added to your party. All of these characters can be leveled up, and loot can be applied to them via the detailed menu, where players can not only check their characters equipment and stats, but also the Artes that they have learned, the plethora of Titles that they can attach to themselves, and much more.
The various characters in Vesperia are wildly different, and each have their own unique characteristics that make engaging with them, and using them in your four person party, a ton of fun. Swapping between characters might not always be the best solution to progressing through the game efficiently, but does allow you learn more about those around you. Thankfully, Bandai Namco understood that Characters and Story power the Tales franchise, and have made sure these two aspects shine through.
Updated graphics and enhanced audio give the game a fresh coat of paint, and the previously released content only available in Japan is a welcome addition, especially for those who have played the original English release back in 2008, but never the Japanese re-release in 2009. It doesn’t change a lot, and the main story will play out as it has before, but having the option to have new characters in your party, new items to find and use, and all cut scenes and optional skits voice acted makes you feel like you are playing a brand new title.
Here is what has been included in the definitive version of Tales of Vesperia:
Flynn Scifo and brand new character Patty Fleur as a permanent party member.
Full Voice Acting for the Entire Game.
Addition of Characters from the Tales of Vesperia: First Strike anime film.
New Cutscenes and story moments, new Skits, and new music tracks.
New bosses spread across the games open world and dungeons.
New Artes, Equipment, and Skills for each character
New costumes including the Tales of the Abyss set and the Bandai Namco set, with costumes from Xenosaga, SoulCalibur, and more.
Ability to skip cutscenes
New minigames to give you a break from the main story.
New post-game dungeons.
Ability to replay boss battles on Nam Cobanda Island
New Team Coliseum.
Since so many people missed out on one of the best Tales games ever, it’s great to see Bandai Namco bringing the experience back, and updated, across all platforms and countries! At times, Tales of Vesperia still shows it’s age, and I feel that more could have been done to create a consistent updated graphical look across the entire game. Still, it’s great to see all the content from the Japanese game come to the West, with the option to play in English or Japanese. Compile that with brand new dialogue and the fact that almost everything is now voice acted, and you definitely have a definitive version of Tales of Vesperia.