Sep 052013
 

Playing Tales of Xillia made me think of Final Fantasy, which was probably not the intended effect. Of course, Xillia is unquestionably a Tales game. Its story leans heavily on the series’ core tropes – dual worlds, alienated (or alien) young women, uses of magic causing imbalances in nature – and its chaotic combat could never be confused with the more stately pace of the active time battle system. Several Tales hallmarks are downplayed, however – Xillia has possibly the simplest food system in the series, and the title and grade systems have been fused and shoved down into a submenu [Read more…]

Apr 162012
 

Status: Completed main quest, second quest… mehbe later Most Intriguing Idea: Essentially eliminating “mana” and cooldowns. Best Design Decision: The dodge/cc-regeneration mechanic. Worst Design Decision: Pretty much everything else. Summary: Thanks to Tales of Legendia, Tales of Graces f is not the worst game in the Tales series, but oh how close it came. That’s through no fault of the combat design; I found the battles to be exceptionally slick and with very few exceptions very enjoyable to play. By removing the separate “mana” gauge and linking all combat actions to a single, recharging counter, the battles gained a lot [Read more…]

May 182010
 
Who wants to be Lloyd Irving?

Having explained what I thought was wrong with Infinite Space, I feel obliged to talk about what it did right. In this context I’m going to discuss something lots of other games get wrong, from my point of view. Let me start with the proposition that games express values. That may seem trivial to anyone who has played through twenty or so JRPGs with the same neo-luddite earth-friendly themes, but I’m actually not talking about that kind of expression. Games also have intrinsic values that are communicated by the kinds of characters that are chosen as protagonists, the way that [Read more…]

Oct 162008
 

Last weekend I finished Namco-Bandai’s Tales of Vesperia for the XBox 360, a game which delivers the “Tales of” series’ characteristic action-chaos combat, lovely anime-flavored visuals, and little else. That’s not how things begin: Vesperiapresents a deeply unjust world and a genuine moral conflict about how to change it. The game’s meandering, inattentive writing, however, leaves this initial promise unfulfilled. As a consequence the story is endlessly boring and deeply disappointing.Spoilers follow, but trust me, there’s not that much to spoil. The world of Vesperia, Terca Lumireis, is politically dominated by an Empire that maintains its power through a monopoly [Read more…]