Tales of Graces F Hands-On Impressions

We take a trip to the forest and slay some beasts with the help of a lonely boy and his loyal friends.

Namco Bandai's Tales franchise has come a long way since it was first created in 1995. The console fantasy role-playing game series now spans 12 titles and four animated works, a celebration of anime and Japanese culture featuring a handful of charming, childlike characters that populate an array of colorful fantasy environments.

Tales of Graces is the latest title in the series, released in Japan on the Wii in December last year and coming to the PlayStation 3 later this year (named Tales of Graces F). The game follows protagonist Asbel in his quest for greater strength and wisdom (did we mention it was a Japanese RPG?), a journey we were able to share with him during our recent hands-on session with the PS3 version of the game at Tokyo Game Show 2010.

The Japanese-only demo began with a cutscene depicting our tiny heroes battling an enormous flylike creature before making a rather narrow escape. The game takes place on Efinea, a planet dominated by three kingdoms competing for the right to rule. After losing a close friend, Asbel, the eldest son of a feudal lord, enlists in a knight’s academy in his kingdom’s capital to learn to better protect those he loves. After his father’s death, Asbel takes his place as a feudal lord and the adventure begins.

As in other Tales games, Tales of Graces doesn’t use a traditional world map; rather, you journey from town to town using interconnected locations, parts of which you have to unlock to proceed. During our short demo, we travelled around in a forest locale; our path was blocked in several directions, and only by doing battle with several of the forest creatures could we unlock new directions.

Entering battles proved easy enough: We literally had to walk into the creature we wanted to fight. Although Asbel was journeying alone during our demo, once we entered a battle, we found his friends came to his aid. During battles, you can switch among these different characters using the D pad; characters come with their own individual abilities and weapons.

Because the demo was in Japanese, the battle system was a little hard to grasp. The first few battles were tutorials, where we learned the artes attack (artes being a substance used by the people of Efinea) and something called the burst attack. The game uses the SS-LMBS (Style Shift Linear Motion Battle System); in this system, each character can choose between two different fighting styles. The set of moves using artes are predetermined; however, you can also choose from another set of attacks and switch between the two in the middle of a battle. Don’t ask us how this is actually done because we couldn’t figure it out.

We did figure out that characters can free run (L2) and do a nifty 360-degree side step around enemies (square button plus the direction you want to go in). The demo was very lenient and taught us how to choose between our assigned weapons (triangle button), but once again, we got lost in the language barrier and could only work out that at least one of the weapons was a sword. As for the others, we couldn’t tell (one looked like a chess board and another looked like an ironing board, but we’re guessing that’s not correct).

As we progressed through the forest, we found the battles got harder, with more creatures to fight, and the game demanded a set number of combos to gain the experience points needed to progress. This was rather fun: The battles were not hard, and the bright colors and lighting effects made the whole thing visually pleasing.

After our demo ended, we took a sneaky look at our neighbor and saw a screen where you can assign the experience points earned to different character attributes and abilities, but we had to leave it there because the line to play the game had already stretched around the corner.

Given the Wii version of Tales of Graces sold 143, 215 units in its first week of sale in Japan, we have no doubt the PS3 version is setting the same course for success.

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Discussion

49 comments
jjdomo
jjdomo

I remain shocked and a little disappointed that Gamespot doesn't have any staff members who can read/speak japanese. Considering how much coverage they do on japanese games, you'd think they would at least have ONE person on the payroll who could help them out with stuff like this.

Kou-Nurasaka
Kou-Nurasaka

I am just finishing up Tales of Vesperia, so two new Tales games sounds great! Abyss is by far my favorite.

PartyOnGarth
PartyOnGarth

@Aderdunn_3 Yes of course opinions will differ. I think we can both agree that we need more Tales games in the US though!

Aderdunn_3
Aderdunn_3

@PartyOnGarth Okay...opinions differ...Of course DQ8 was far better than RG(250 hours and 57 hours respectively) but this doesn't mean it was bad(imo)....Anyway , I am happy that jrpgs like Tales of Xillia and Tales of Graces F gonna be released for PS3.....At least these beautiful-looking games may fulfill my request for more great jrpgs in Europe and America...

PartyOnGarth
PartyOnGarth

@Aderdunn_3 Ugh really? Rogue Galaxy was terribad. The combat was interesting for the first few hours, but the late game skills are game-breaking, the sidequests are more chore-like than enjoyable, and the very long dungeons are just the same exact room rearranged over and over again. Plus the world feels like it consists entirely of corridors. Considering Level 5's level development in DQ8, I thought RG was a HUGE step backwards.

twztid13
twztid13

why can't we get the wii version? namco-bandai isn't all there. do they not realize the wii has a far greater install base? either way is fine, but i want to play this freakin' game.

hellpolice
hellpolice

@GamerYnoX: Indeed! Xseed are among my favorite publishers...great they came out to fill the place that Working Design (Lunar games on ps1) left empty after they went out of business. Atlus game catalog is great too!

GamerYnoX
GamerYnoX

Why most anime style rpg never gets translated to english? Altus and XSeed Games I thank you ;D

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

@GamerYnoX nope sadly they announced months ago back in august i think that they have no plans of bringing graces over on either the wii or ps3.

santinegrete
santinegrete

Namco: I don't care of your generic Dragon Ball games. Bring more Tales games here. Stop dreaming big with sales and just bucking fring it, you owe some respect to the fans of tales saga.

packtop
packtop

Damn sometime i wish they would stop posting game that won't be released in US or at least no planned yet.This is really fustrating when they release a game i really want but only in jap and i don't understand jap. Stupide Namco instead of realesing a good tales games here they don't stop giving use stupid Dragonball games.

EasyNormalHard
EasyNormalHard

Namco you suck! Piece of garbage not giving me this game for the US. Sell the franchise to someone who can put this game out for all to enjoy!

Blink3r
Blink3r

GTFO Namco Bandai... ATLUS is WAY better... They care about the people that don't speak japanese... And all their games are awesome!

Zynqu
Zynqu

wtf i thought it was meant for the wii. this is pure bs. honestly i believe ps3 was a waste of mopney anyways and games like these should stay on nintendo and xbox

GamerYnoX
GamerYnoX

No english version on Wii planed?

quicksilver_03
quicksilver_03

Yeah...This is Namco-Bandai we're talking about...always excited to announce the release of another Tales game in Japan, but what about in the US? I believe it's their company's loss for not expanding most of their RPG and strategy games since the first launch of PS3 and they believe that they'll make profit exclusively through XBox 360. Playstation is notorious on most of the RPG and strategy game release, (which Xbox isn't) since the first Final Fantasy 7 became very popular and it became their trend genre signature. So I hope Namco-Bandai will have to trust their faith back to PS3 US consumers to boost up their sales again.

Yukihirou
Yukihirou

Never coming out, a lost cause.

rpg-god
rpg-god

@trueProphecy yea it seem they have abandoned us u.s gamers

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

Probably not coming out in the US.. it seems Namco-Bandai has abandoned the US market for Tales games.

StarkFlame
StarkFlame

@rpg-god its coming to the us. but if you don't live in us just import from there when it is realesed

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I loved the tales games but it seems we us gamers are getting the shaft on them the last two games for the ps3... Pfff makes me wish I spoke japenese so I could just import it... Oh well I got other games to buy...

rpg-god
rpg-god

@lowkey254 yea i could do that but i cant speak japanese so i think i will pass

lowkey254
lowkey254

@rpg-god If it's on the ps3 you can import it... it may cost a bit but if you really want to play it you can.

rpg-god
rpg-god

wats the use in even telling the u.s gamers about this game if nine out of ten it want even be released in the u.s jus like tales of vesperia for the PS3... dumb namco bandia!!!

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

this is a total teaser..... I've been waiting for a Wii release here while their just picking their %$$ putting it on the PS3....how annoying..... Vesperia on the PS3 hasn't even come to the US yet.... this is bothering me horribly

BLACKWINGS17
BLACKWINGS17

Agreed! Tales of Vesperia is one of my favorite RPG's of all time, and was really the only reason I had a 360. Now they have an even better version of it for the PS3, but we can't have it. I don't know why they even bother teasing us with this if we aren't even gonna be able to play it here in America. "You can import it." - Yeah, we could import it, if we wanted to print off few thousands pages of the english translated script online or have a Japanese interpreter nearby. We would be reading more than we would be actually playing the game. Believe it or not, Namco, not all of us Americans like shooting people. Some of us prefer a long adventure over another cookie-cutter Death Match.

Supabul
Supabul

Namco need's to release it for 360 and PS3, I still don't understand why they don't release Tales of Vesperia on PS3, it's done its in english, its on PS3 in Japan, how hard would it be to get it released

AnimeKen15
AnimeKen15

Ever since Tales of Symphonia i became a huge fan of the Tales series. Please bring this to America no one needs another CoD or some crappy FPS. We need good rpgs and the Tales series can deliver em

Zangan_Zack
Zangan_Zack

I got Tales Of Vesperia for my Xbox360 it was probably my favorite Tales game of all time, Please Namco bring this to North America for the Xbox360 and PS3!

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

So while GS was there at TGS, did they take the time to ask if any of the Namco staff if these Tales games will be making it to North America and/or Europe??? Especially the PS3 version of Tales of Vesperia.

QtrArt
QtrArt

when is coming NA. ??

HollowNinja
HollowNinja

Please, for the love of god, localize it.

Enforcer246
Enforcer246

But then again..it might not come to NA. People too busy playing crappy shooters.

nitehaze
nitehaze

finally ps3 i am still hoping for vesperia to come our

pooyanh
pooyanh

Namco is weird. They have gone through the trouble of translating and voice acting Tales of Vesperia in English, but never released it for PS3. Why not release it for PS3 as well to earn some extra bucks? Who is their marketing manager? He totally needs a kick in the butt. That being said, Tales of Vesperia is in my top 5 games of this generation. Do play it, even if it means burrowing a friend's 360 for a couple of weeks.

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

Can't wait for it. Hopefully Namco Bandai do release it in the West for PS3 unlike Tales of Vesperia which they still haven't.

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

I need to learn Japanese to play Tales series. Thus I doubt the studio will last long since their games only sold in Japan now thanks to their poor treatment to Western fans. PS2 port of Tales of Symphonia never come out of Japan. Tales of Legendia and Tales of the Abyss never came to EU. :( Namco hates to invest money in the west. There's no doubt about it.

bigmouthkid
bigmouthkid

Given how Bandai Namco treats the western PS3 fanbase like crap I highly doubt that they will send this game over to the states. We kept begging them to port Tales of Vesperia over to the U.S, hell we even made several petitions and still nothing happened. I don't get why they are so damn selfish with their JRPGs.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

At least PS3 is region free, so I can import this if I so choose. Given that the Wii version didn't get an international release, I'm certain the more expensive port won't be seeing a release outside of Japan either. A shame too...the battle system alone in Tales games is worth the price of admission.

Witchsight
Witchsight

This... Is probably too JRPG for me. Im sure there would be a market for it here though (as opposed to the non-market Western games have there).

pooyanh
pooyanh

This will totally come to western markets......not in this life. Western audience is busy playing crappy action games.

BFKamui503
BFKamui503

Hopefully there will be an american release too.

Hanzoadam
Hanzoadam

I heard it was coming to the PS3 well I'm happy its confirmed