Tales of Legendia First Look

We get a look at the upcoming <i>Tales</i> game from Namco.

Namco showed off a work-in-progress version of Tales of Legendia at a press event this evening. The role-playing game is the latest entry in the developer's Tales franchise, which has long held a place in the heart of RPG fans. The unfinished game showed off a winning mix of new faces and places, and following a short demo of the game, we had the chance to try it out firsthand to see how it was coming together on the PlayStation 2.

The game's story revolves around a youngster named Senel Coolidge, who, along with his younger sister Shirley, both discover an ancient vessel named The Legacy. Though the pair is originally lost at sea, the two are swept up on to the massive island-sized deck of the craft. The truth behind the mysterious craft and the shady individuals looking to find out its origins are both part of the adventure the pair of siblings finds itself on. As with all RPGs, you'll travel all over the land while meeting all sorts of quirky folk, some of whom will join you on your quest, in addition to discovering wonders you never dreamed of. Though it sounds like a pretty by-the-numbers setup, Legendia actually offers an interesting extension of its quest, courtesy of a unique structure. The narrative is actually split in to two parts, a proper seven-chapter main story arc starring Senel and Shirley, as well as a series of character quests that open up once you finish the main game.

The gameplay in Tales of Legendia is mostly true to what's been seen in the series before. You'll explore, add members to your party, battle enemies to no end, gain experience to level up, and hone cooking skills. Yes, cooking skills. We're pleased to report that much like the previous games in the series, your party will be able to acquire some food on the battlefield, if needed, courtesy of one of the party members you'll gain. In this case, your cook will be named Mimi. Also, combat has been fleshed out more to offer additional fighting options. The system has changed a bit from Tales of Symphonia in that combat takes place on a basic 2D plane, like a one-on-one fighter. Another interesting wrinkle to combat is that, unlike Symphonia, where you would see your foes on the world map, battles are random again.

The visuals in the game are a shiny, polished collection of anime-inspired character models that are based on the designs of renowned artist Kazuto Nakazawa. The environments are an eclectic collection of familiar RPG archetypal locations and some fresh ideas. The effects used for spells are nicely done, and the overall animation is top-notch across the board.

The audio has been beefed up over the last entry in the series and now boasts full voice. The soundtrack is the product of a collaboration between the New Harmonic Japanese Orchestra and the game's composer. Voice is equally well done, for the most part. Namco is remaining mum on the specifics of the game's cast of voice actors, some of whom are known talent, to keep them from overshadowing their roles.

Based on what we played of Tales of Legendia, the game is looking like a title worthy of keeping an eye out for. The game looks good, handles nicely, and promises to be a lot of fun. Tales of Legendia is currently slated to ship early next year, so look for more on the game in the coming months.

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