Release Date: January 11, 2019 (Original release August 7, 2008)
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc
Players: 1-4(local co-op is available as well)
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC.
If you missed Tales of Vesperia on the Xbox 360 and always wanted to play it, well now is your chance. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition has been out since January 11th 2019 and includes all the content that the Japanese version did back in the PS3 era(which, if I’m remembering correctly never saw the light of day outside of Japan due to Microsoft wanting to keep it a 360 exclusive here in the West). It’s one of the best entries in the series and with all the content on one disc you can’t go wrong. Also, since this is a review of the re-release of an older game, I’ll keep it simple and to the point(as much as you can with a JRPG).
The story takes a little while to get rolling and normally that would seem like a negative. However, character development seems to take center stage. You get to know the characters and you get to see how they interact with each other and grow on/with each other. This helps strengthen your connection to certain characters so events that happen later on have more of an impact. You genuinely get to like the characters and care what happens to them. This is done through quite a few cut scenes and little skits that play out whenever you get to a new area/dungeon and do things that trigger them. While saving the world ultimately is the end goal of the story, by the time that comes around you care more about what happens with the characters than the world itself in my experience.
The general idea of the story is a thief steals the Blastia core from the Lower Quarter’s fountain, causing it to flood. Yuri and Repede reside in the Lower Quarter so they go off to try and track down the thief, and run into Estelle. Tracking down the Blastia thief sets them on their journey, letting them meet other playable characters from which you build your party. Along the way, Yuri makes a couple of morally questionable choices and Estelle turns out to be something quite different from what she appears to be. There’s an ancient organization who are trying to activate an ancient weapon called the Enduring Shrine of Zaude and remake the world.
Once that is activated it turns out to have been a shield of sorts to keep out the Adaphagos. After that happens it’s up to Yuri and company(known as the Brave Vesperia) to defeat the Adaphagos. When the Adaphagos is defeated the Entelexeia that formed the Adaphagos are then converted into spirits that revitalize the planet. From there you’re left with a post-credit cut scene that shows Brave Vesperia trailing off to continue their adventures…which sadly never happens because there is no sequel to this game.
The synopsis of the story I gave you, despite being long, is actually somewhat bare bones; I just hit some of the major points. There’s more to the story, especially with the addition of two other characters never seen before here in the West; Flynn and Patty Fleur. They each have their own unique story archs that add to the base story of the game and pepper in some unique little skits as well.
Yuri is by far one of the more interesting main characters in the Tales series. Even though he ultimately does some questionable moral things, they swing more into the acceptable range than actually bad. He feels as though he’s responsible for taking care of the little person and sees nothing wrong with administering his own form of justice where the law fails the common people. Which also ends up putting him at odds with his longtime friend, Flynn. Also, Repede is the bestest of bois and poor Estelle; the young noblewoman you meet very early on in the game and immediately feel the need to protect.
There are your typical anime style tropes throughout the game as well, so be prepared for a couple “interesting” interactions/scenes. It is, after all, an anime based game so you should expect this sort of thing.
The game runs at 1080p and 30fps during battles/exploration of levels, and 60fps on the world map while playing on the Xbox One. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition runs at 1080p/60fps on the Playstation 4 everywhere(during hectic battles it will dip down to 30fps)and on the PC there’s a 4k resolution option on top of 60fps.
That being said the game looks fantastic compared to what it did on the 360. Colors are more vivid and everything just seems, overall, enhanced and polished. There are some hiccups though, such as enemies taking time to pop up and be visible on the world map to random weather effects popping in and out of existence while you travel the world map hindering the overall view. Honestly, the world map is going to be the “worst” graphical experience you’ll have with this game.
In traditional JRPG standards, you have a world map that you traverse for getting from point A to point B, later on getting a type of airship to help you go to places where you couldn’t just walk. Once you find a town or an area you can explore you enter the area and are put into a standard level. You can walk around and interact with NPC’s, buy stuff from stores with gald(the in-game currency), and explore the area to find chests. All of your standard JRPG stuff is here as far as that kind of stuff goes, right down to the enemies popping up on both maps(world/level) so you can either avoid fights, get the drop on your enemy or grind until your heart’s content, which this game does require some grinding in typical JRPG fashion as well. The fact that if you engage in an encounter with other enemies close by, they also join the fight, helps up the overall monster count per encounter thus gaining more experience so the grind isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.
The battle system uses a variation on the series’ trademark action-oriented Linear Motion Battle System call the “Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System”. Battles then take place in a linear battle zone where you control one of the characters and the AI controls the rest. You can alter the AI to better fit your own personal fighting style as far as when they use buffs, spells, and items. There’s also a 4 player co-op system in place as well which makes chaining attacks together easier to be able to take full advantage of the combat system in place, which can go pretty deep if you want to delve down into it. Making continual strikes activates the chance for a Fatal Strike, which kills normal enemies and heavily damages bosses which is easier to accomplish with friends playing other characters, unless you go in and heavily modify the AI. Otherwise, you can get by on your standard mix of attacks, special attacks and Artes(basically magical attacks).
Leveling up is also fairly standard. After each battle, there is a results screen which shows you how much XP and gald you’ve acquired after the encounter. Your characters learn skills/artes as they level up and will even learn skills that are attached to their equipment once the Learning Points meter has filled. The skills/artes your character can equip are also limited by the number of Skill Points your character has and everyone also gets a Mystical Arte, an extra powerful cinematic attack. You can also use some artes outside of battle to heal characters and there are also recipes you can find throughout the world by locating the Wonder Chef. Recipes restore HP and Technical points while sometimes offering other buffs as well.
It’s also worth noting that the Definitive edition adds in extra boss fights, dual Mystic Arte with Yuri and Flynn, new artes, skills and equipment for all characters. Everything the exclusive Japan PS3 version had, this game has.
All in all, this is a solid entry into the Tales franchise, albeit an older entry. Tales will show its age in some things but they are easily overlooked just due to the sheer quality of the game itself. Don’t sleep on this title again if you missed it the first time around because you didn’t own a 360.
The music is spot on and if you prefer original Japanese voice acting to the dubbed American voices, you can change that in the settings. Everything is fully voice acted. The other two playable characters added in the Definitive edition, Flynn and Patty Fleur, are a welcome addition but don’t really make or break the game as a whole. You can do just fine with the standard roster of characters and the extra story bits and skits they do add is a nice touch.