I hadn't originally planned to do a review for Alloy Seven since I had previously reviewed the game several years ago when I first played it. However, I came across that original review and was shocked by how much my opinion of the game had changed having completed every single quest and achievement Vesperia had to offer.
Vesperia was my second experience with games in the Tales series. My first was Symphonia, which I only moderately enjoyed. The same was true of my first run with Vesperia. I felt it was a good game, but nothing supernatural. But now, with my 1000 Gamerscore in hand, I have a very different perspective of the game.
Tales of Vesperia is the best Japanese Role Playing Game on the current generation of consoles.
Ok, so objectively speaking, there is no 'best.' But it's by far my favorite. By completing Vesperia entirely, I came to realize just how much of the game I had missed in my first play. From story elements to combat augmentations that allowed me to have more fun with the battle system, Tales of Vesperia was clearly made with completionists in mind.
Aight, so I'll go ahead and step down from the ole soap box, jump into the category breakdowns and tell you guys and gals why Vesperia is one of the best.
Bookworms - I love it when games are able to properly incorporate humor into the plot. Vesperia shines in this area. While the general storyline centers around the typical, 'let's save the world from ultimate destruction' theme that we can't seem to escape, Tales handles the execution with a very welcome twist. On top of the well-handled plot, you have what I consider to be some of the best lead characters and villains in the history of RPGs. I especially liked the lead character and the way the supporting characters balanced him out.
Builders - I didn't truly appreciate the leveling and customization systems during my first run with Vesperia. But again, that was because I didn't actually level enough throughout the game to make the best parts of the system available. In short, leveling allows you to learn skills specific to your character. On top of that, you also level your equipment by using it in battle. Doing so grants you the abilities embedded in the weapons using blastia (Vesperia's less complicated version of Materia). As you level, you also gain action points that allow you to equip said skills even if you have moved on to using other weapons to learn their skills. In terms of customization, there are few RPGs that allow you to control so much of what happens in the game. From picking the formation your combatants use in battles all the way down to character's clothing changing when you equip new items, Vesperia is a dream come true for you customization freaks.
Explorers - Vesperia takes it way back to the old school with a huge map, boats and eventually the almighty airship. If, like me, you grew up during Final Fantasy's glory days, you will feel right at home with vesperia. There are so many areas to explore, so much loot to find and so many great monsters scattered across the world just itching to fight and help you level your characters.
Strategists - Equiping the right mix of skills and mix-and-matching your teams in battle is where Vesperia truly shines in the gameplay department. Once you've effectively leveled your party to compete with the monsters at your current story placemark, you can truly begin to shape what happens on the battlefield. If you play enough, you'll develop favorite parties and begin to enjoy just how deep the combat, customization and strategy elements of this game really are.
Action Junkie - I finally get to say a traditional RPG is right for action junkies. Vesperia employes a semi-real-time battle system that is very fast-paced and exciting. I was very surprised by the fact that Vesperia was able to incorporate good tactical play into a battle system that moves this quickly.
Achievers - Tales of Vesperia is either an achiever's dream-come-true or a horrible nightmare. Completing all the quests, acquiring all the items and conducting all the secret moves during boss fights is not for the feint of heart. If you are not the consumate obsessive achiever, 100%-ing Vesperia can be a serious chore. However, fully completing the game grants you access to some of the best story elements. It also allows you to level such that you can experience how truly outstanding the combat system is. In my first play, I had several complaints about the battle system. Turns out it wasn't the system that was broken, it was my under-leveled characters that couldn't make use of all the system had to offer. With all this in mind, please understand that you will not fully complete this game without a strategy guide. [Strategy Guide Provided by Xbox360Achievements.org]
Audiophile - There are no bad tracks in the Tales of Vesperia soundtrack. There are some that aren't phenomenal. However, everything is appropriately well made and as with many RPGs there are some tracks that really stand out as excellent. On top of the soundtrack, you've got some really outstanding voice work. Voice work that makes each character unique and really come alive.
Visualist - The anime-style visuals are something I wish more RPGs would use. Either way, the visuals in Tales of Vesperia are excellent in almost every way. It's a 3-year old game that could easily stand up to games being pushed out in 2012.
If you are an RPG fan, I honestly don't believe any category you fall into will be disappointed by this game. However, if you don't like traditional RPGs, then stay far away from this game.
The only category of gamer I could see potentially disliking Tales of Vesperia (even if you do like RPGs) is the Tourist category. Getting the most out of ToV requires an extremely high time investment. If you prefer games that are short and sweet, look elsewhere.
To wrap things up, I'm extremely happy that I went back to Tales of Vesperia for another go. I still contend that it is among the best that this generation has to offer in terms of JRPGs. I've only played one other Tales game, but I can easily say Vesperia was a better experience. And judging from some of the complaints I've heard about other Tales games, it makes sense to me that I've heard so many people contend that Vesperia was the best in the series.
Either way, if you are into JRPGs and somehow didn't play Tales of Vesperia, I recommend you put it on your list. As always, if you've already played it, please leave us some comentary about your experience. Do you agree that ToV is one of the best for this generation?
With that said friends, thanks for watching and I'll see you back here for my next category review.