Who doesn't love a good Tales game? Now, who doesn't love a fantastic Tales game?
Yes, that's my opinion of Tales of Vesperia in 20 words or less, but I'm thinking it would be best to dive into why ToV is currently sitting as my favorite Tales game.
Simply put, the games looks stunning. Graphics and aesthetics meet in beautiful harmony to make a game that not only looks great, but feels alive. The world you explore is vibrant, with even mundane fields looking bright and inviting. Not only do the locations you visit look great, but the character and enemy models are beautifully done in a style that seems like a realization of anime characters into a video game.
The gameplay is largely similar to previous Tales games, but polished to a mirror shine. While it may take a bit too long for some people before the game truly opens up and gives you all the tools you need to really lay down the hurt to your enemies it's still a blast to play through.
Once you get good enough the game can become hilariously broken though. Infinite combos and endless overlimit can destroy even the toughest of foes. This really only happens once you've accumulated the levels, skills and experience necessary, which is far greater then you'll find in an ordinary play through, so it's not an issue.
One of the more pleasant things is the sheer variety between characters. Playing as Yuri, a fast and combo intensive swordsman is completely different from playing as Estelle, who mixes between powerful light element spells and quick and deadly sword attacks. With seven playable characters each with their own unique style it's nigh impossible to tire of playing, as it's incredibly easy to pick up another character for a completely new experience.
Oh and there's also the option to have up to 4 people play the game at once, but I'll be damned if I can find one person who will play with me, but it's a great option for those with friends interested in playing together.
Now, it wouldn't be a proper Tales game if it didn't have a kickass soundtrack to go along with it, and ToV delivers. I'm a big sucker for the games main theme appearing somewhere latter in the game, which ToV pulls of not once, but twice, here's my favourite version though,
Battle music is also well done, managing to have surprising variety over the course of the game.
The voice overs are also worth mentioning, as it's superbly done. The characters are full of emotions and feelings and it really shows (sounds?) when things get heated in the story.
Tales games are always known for having diverse and interesting characters and Vesperia's no different in that regards. What's really notable though, is how unique some of them are. Yuri, the main protagonist, who could have easily been another self righteous, noble swordsman, is actually a man willing to do whatever it takes to get things done, even if that means staining his hands.
The cast of characters also has fantastic chemistry as they banter at each other in skits and band together for fights.
The story in ToV is where I think it stumbles a bit. While the world and characters are certainly interesting the story doesn't seem to make the most of them. The main problem I found was the constant changing of the antagonist role. By the time the actual villain shows up, who in true Tales fashion is more of an opposer of the ideals of the characters, there's not a whole lot of time left. While there's certainly a large amount of people who seem to get in your way a lot, and in Tales Tradition results in some great boss fights, I can't help but feel that the game would have benefited from a more... long term antagonist.
That aside the story is fun to play through, goes through it's fair share of twists and does a stupendous job at developing the characters over the course of the game.
While I think it's a shame that we'll never get the enhanced PS3 version of ToV, there is no doubt that it's still one the best JRPG's on the market right now. If you're a fan of JRPG's or looking to get into the genre there's no better game than ToV. This also marks my third Tales game completed, with only Tales of Symphonia (NGC) and Tales of Graces F left.
Also, if you're still on the fence the game features a kickass, playable character ninja dog, what more do you want?