[Shock Value is a weekly segment which runs down inexpensive titles that are more than worth the money spent.]
- Title: Tales of Vesperia
- Developer: Namco Tales Studio
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Genre: JRPG
- Release: August 2008
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Pricing: New: ~$22, Used: ~$15
It’s unfortunate that Namco Bandai hasn’t seen fit to bring any Tales games to the West since Tales of Vesperia, because it was such a standout title in the franchise. Not only was it the first (and, to this date, only) Tales game to land on the Xbox 360, but it was also exclusive to that platform worldwide for a year. Since then, it has been released on the PS3 in an enhanced version, in Japan only.
This game, hands down, is one of the best RPGs I’ve played this generation – and I’m not just saying that because I’m a fan of the franchise or the genre in general. If you’re even remotely into RPGs and own an Xbox 360, this is a must buy. It follows the exploits of a young man named Yuri, as he seeks to find out the secrets of “blastia”, an ancient technology that is now widely used for the function of many things that people take for granted. At the same time, little is known about it besides the fact that it can be used in various ways.
When an aque blastia gets stolen from the fountain in the city where Yuri lives, he sets off to find out who did it. This leads him to get embroiled in a feud between guilds, armies and, ultimately, royalty. Naturally he meets many friends along the way who help him on his journey. Most notably he meets Estelle, who is eventually attacked by a monster and called the “poison of the world”. Everyone wants to find out what that is all about, and if I explain any more beyond this, we start to get into heavy spoiler territory. Needless to say, it is a huge, arching story, filled with many fun characters, plot twists and action.
Nothing really stands out about the battle system, because it is a derivative of previous Tales titles, with an action-based fighting arena. However, there’s a reason it hasn’t changed a whole lot – it’s darn fun. Like few games before it, I enjoyed fighting in battles because they were fun, not because I had to to level up my character.
What I enjoyed the most about Tales of Vesperia, aside from the grand story and the anime-style artwork, was the characters. They are varied and each have their own distinct personality and personal style. They don’t conform too closely to JRPG clichés, like we see so often in the genre. The voice work was also very well done, which only added to the personality of the characters. Even though they were embroiled in this huge, fantasy tale, they still seemed somehow down to earth, like the writers really wanted the player to identify with them in some humanistic way.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, if you’re a fan of the genre at all, there’s no reason not to pick this up, at a measly $22 on Amazon. That’s a bargain for a title that will give you upwards of 100 hours of enjoyment, assuming you don’t just rush straight through the story, but stop to smell the roses along the way. The fact that the PS3 version hasn’t been localized for the West yet is disappointing, however if you have an Xbox 360, this is one must-have RPG to add to your library.