In most cases, I usually tend to read reviews about a game before I decide to buy it. However, with Tales of Symphonia, this was not so. As soon as I saw the beautiful character designs (I'm a big fan of animes), I knew I wanted to get it. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Upon its release I rushed to the store to buy it, and found my first pleasant surprise. Two discs! Then I looked at the back of the case. 80 hours of gameplay! The latter excited me the most, because I'm the type of guy who crams a bunch of playing time together on a weekend, and if a game can survive that cramming session, I get terribly disappointed. I'm happy to say ToS survived several of these. But enough of my babbling, let's talk about the game.
The story is centered around a kid named Lloyd and his friends, the most important being Colette, who is the Chosen of Regeneration. This mainly means that she needs to go on a trip to the Tower of Salvation to save the world. The goal seems pretty straightforward at first, but things quickly change and, well, we'll just say you'll have a few surprises along this adventure. I'll admit that this wasn't the most unique story in the world, but it's definitely worth playing through nonetheless.
As for the characters, they were very well developed. You've got a dumb but strong hero, an annoying little elf wizard, a perverted pink haired swordsman, and a sexy female ninja with a busty physique, just to name a few. Despite what you're thinking of these characters now, you'll definitely grow attached to at least some of them, considering you'll be spending a good 50+ hours (the case is exaggerating a bit by saying 80 hours) with these characters. In fact, think of them as your new best friends, because your real ones will probably be wondering where you are and will eventually forget about you during the course of playing this game. Just a little heads up. ;-)
I'll start with the characters here. Personally, I loved the character design in this game. The anime style really fit in with their personalities, and really made them come across as real people (in an anime type way). Okay, that didn't really make sense. Let's just say that I felt for the characters, and because of this I believe the graphics did what they were meant to do. Despite of this, there was one very minor flaw, which was an occasional blurriness. This didn't happen very often, and when it did the event passed and they were clear again.
Although I really loved the character design, I simply liked the environmental graphics. This is due to the fact that it was simply an average design. Just plain old 3D, the same type we've seen a million times before. But this wasn't really the problem. The problem was the boring design of many of the dungeons in the game, which usually had a few traps and elevating platforms. Nothing special, and many (not all) of the dungeons followed this general pattern. This is probably my biggest complaint for the game.
Are you sick of taking turns in your battles? Well then you should appreciate Tales of Symphonia's battle system. Although it still brings you to a battle screen (not randomly, you have to run into an enemy on the field), you actually get to run up to your foes and hack and slash at them. Aside from this, you have special abilities. These abilities vary from character to character. Lloyd gets special moves for his double katanas, Raine (Lloyds professor) uses healing abilities, Sheena (the sexy ninja) uses special card attacks, and so on. Although this method of battling is pretty fun, it would be nice to have a few more abilities, but I was generally happy with the selection.
As for the enemies in the game, they are really quite amazing. Not only is there a huge variety, but they all have their own unique abilities and attacks. Also, they are all beautifully animated, and ultimately add greatly to the battling experience.
The sound in Tales of Symphonia was strong in some ways and average in others. In the strong area, there was the voice acting. As long as ToS is, you wouldn't expect there to be voice acting, let alone the amount there is in the game. Although not every line of speech has voice acting, pretty much every event to do with the main story does. And, to make it even better, all of it is high quality. You may even recognize some of the voices…
And now for the weaker point. The music in Tales of Symphonia is nothing to get excited about. I can't really even remember the soundtrack except for a couple songs, which is my favorite and my least favorite, my favorite being one in a mountain pass, and my least favorite being the song for many the dungeons (so repetitive, just like the dungeons themselves).
Tales of Symphonia as a whole delivers all you could possibly want in length, and most of what you could want in every other area. Overall, this is my favorite RPG for the Gamecube, and one of my top RPGs for the current three systems. Definitely check it out. And free up your schedule for the next few months.
Fun Factor: A