Ever since playing Tales of Phantasia for
the first time over six years ago, I've become a huge fan of the series,
and as such will admit a slight bias towards any game from this massive
series from Namco. Not to say that there haven't been some misses in
the series though, and there are more than a few people who are turned
off by its trademark real-time battles. Nevertheless, the latest
incarnation in the series, Tales of the Abyss, should please those who
wish the series to continue, and out of all of the titles I previewed
at this year's Tokyo Game Show, it's my personal favorite.
"...out of all of the titles I previewed
at this year's Tokyo Game Show, it's my personal favorite."
As battles are central to Tales games, fans
will be happy to know that they are very quick, and for all intents and
purposes, they are 3D as well. Not true 3D in the sense of the Star
Ocean series, but each character is able to fight on an individual
line to take on an enemy. The neat thing to this though is that
characters can change directions and switch lines with little to no effort at
all, not to mention firing off an number of skills or attacks as they
see fit. It makes for quick battles, and these battles are also timed
and average as they have been in previous titles.
The 10-minute demo allowed by Namco showed off a
sequence near the beginning of the game in a forest/jungle like
environment which showed that the game has an impressive look to it as well.
It's not necessarily the most polished of all the PS2 RPGs at the show
(that honor would have to go to Suikoden V or Kingdom Hearts
II), but it is certainly a great step up from the sprite-based days
of the PlayStation Tales titles.
Given the relative strength of the series and its
completion (it looks pretty much ready to go), this title should move a
few units and then some. While the only confirmed release date is
December 15th for Japan, if the success of Tales of Symphonia was
any indication, chances are likely that this title will make its way to
North America in the near future. At the very least, it will give
Tales fans on the other side of the Pacific a reason to celebrate
owning a non-modded PS2.