Tales of Vesperia Hands-On Impressions

We visit the lovely world of Namco Bandai's upcoming role-playing game.

While never really recognized as a role-playing-game-friendly platform, the Xbox 360 is getting more and more attention on the role-playing front these days. The latest such boon is Tales of Vesperia, the newest installment of Namco Bandai's venerable Tales series and the first to hit the 360. While a lot of story details are still locked away, our hands-on time with the game has left us decidedly optimistic about exploring this attractive new world.

Who says the Xbox 360 isn't RPG friendly? Tales of Vesperia looks to bring a distinctive Japanese RPG flavor to the console.
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The first aspect of this game that springs out and grabs you by the retinas is the look, which of course features a lot of Japanese anime-inspired design. The anime studio Production I.G. (known for producing the television series version of Ghost in the Shell) provided an attractive cinematic intro accompanied by a catchy tune voiced by Japanese vocalist Bonnie Pink. The characters in the game are bright, as well as detailed and expressive with fluid animation, with little in the way of jagged edges from what we could see. The graphical punch provided by the 360 seems put to good use--the smoothness of movement and the lack of any prominent cel-shaded type of outlines makes some of the in-engine scenes approach the look of a true animated film. This was especially evident against the detailed environs of cities and the dungeon we were shown. The Shaikos Ruins were positively aglow with soft blues and greens, lending an almost watercolor backdrop with a lot of depth to the scenes as they unfolded. Another city was wrapped around the roots and boughs of a giant tree, replete with lush greenery. We saw a few different types of monsters, from fishlike creatures and bats to large stone golems that loomed and lumbered about; being the good adventurers we were, we admired the monsters briefly before clubbing them into ruin. .

As far as the main narrative goes, we still don't know much, though we did glean some information about the characters and the world they inhabit. The lands of Tales of Vesperia are powered by ancient technology in the form of blastia--mysterious items that are mined from ruins far and wide. They're used as energy sources with a variety of applications, one of the major ones being that they sustain protective barriers around cities to keep nasty fanged beasties out. They've also created a stratified society with sharp divisions between those with access to blastia and those without access.

Yuri, the dashing swordsman at the center of this particular tale, joined an order of knights along with his best buddy Flynn with the noble aim of helping the people. While Yuri became quickly disillusioned with the status quo and left to pursue some freelance justice work, Flynn remains a knight, so the two friends apparently end up bumping heads quite a bit. Their compatriots in the game include Estelle, a naive young maiden who spent her time in our demo trying to warn Flynn about some dire news; Rita, a spunky young researcher who denies vehemently that she's a blastia thief; and Repede, a stately canine who carries the pipe of his former master clamped in his jaws at all times. We don't know much about how they all come together yet, but it'll be interesting to see the dynamics of this particular crew. In an added touch, the frequent character interaction in the game is all fully voiced, including the world map conversations you can trigger by hanging around. What voice we heard had good delivery to it, which is nice because the character interactions are historically a big part of Tales games.

If you've played a game in the series before, the gameplay should be very familiar--all characters in your party freely roam the battlefield while you control the main character, and you can move in on foes to execute normal attacks or chain together special moves, called artes. In addition to each character's special artes, your characters can learn skills by equipping weapons, which have extra attributes (such as increased defense). Initially, you'll only have the skills if you have the items equipped, but as you fight battles, you'll gain points toward skills, and eventually, you'll learn the skill outright regardless of whether you're wearing the weapon or not. Fights seem typical of Tales games gone by--fast-paced, action-oriented, and forgiving of button mashing as you're learning the ropes. You'll get into fights by running into monsters on the map, and in an added twist, if you're nearby multiple groups of monsters, you'll end up chaining them together to fight the whole pack. We also participated in some multiplayer action because the game supports up to four players, letting each player control a character on the battlefield. The controls are the same as normal play, and it seems like a neat way to allow friends or family in on the monster-slashing good times.

Yuri, Flynn and their companions will explore a bright, colorful cel-shaded world.

In dungeons, you'll be able to gain access to a ring that shoots magical energy. This is used in puzzles to activate special crests that power doors or stairways and to pester the enemies around you. If you shoot roaming monsters with your ring, you can stun them for a battle advantage, freeze them in fear, or actually enrage them further so that they chase you looking for a fight.

As far as extras go, we're happy to note that cooking has remained a series fixture, letting you create delicious and restorative dishes from ingredients dropped by the creatures you encounter. You'll also be able to craft items and armor, with non-player characters helpfully available in the game to give you tips. They'll tell you what materials to combine to make certain items (leaving out some of the guesswork and guide reading that can plague such options) and let you know what stats to expect ahead of time, so you can plan your crafting activities wisely.

Tales of Vesperia looks like an eye-pleasing and solid new installment of the series that's right at home on the Xbox 360. Fans of the series and the Japanese role-playing games should definitely keep this game on their adventure-seeking radar. The game is currently anticipated for release in late August, so stay tuned to this gamespace for further updates on Yuri and his pals.

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Discussion

110 comments
Ganon86
Ganon86

is it coming out un the uk

Marder-I
Marder-I

I'm thinking about this one, but I want to finish a couple others first, lookin' good though, the reviews should be interesting I hope!! Cheers Tom

lolwutksar
lolwutksar

Been watching this one for a while. Since I am a fan of the Tales series, I might just go out and buy an xbox 360 just for this. That is, if it gets great reviews.

geminilovechild
geminilovechild

This game looks like its going to be really cool. I can't wait. Maybe i should have preordered it.

jjroma
jjroma

I could not understand a single thing I was doing while fighting in the demo. I am new to the tales series, and I could not know how to use arts, how to change caracter, how to walk away, anything.

hawaiiinsomniac
hawaiiinsomniac

I pre-ordered this game... I seriously can't wait. Finally a jRpg!

ArctheLad19
ArctheLad19

Every single Tales series I've sat down and played sucked me in (Except for the PSP one...Where they all come back to life for no apparent reason) Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Legendia, Tales of the Abyss...great great great! Even Eternia and Phantasia were awesome, so its fair to say this is going to be a great game

hellpolice
hellpolice

I'm glad I got a 360 Don't get me wrong I'm Sony guy all the way but the upcoming JRPG's coming out this year and the next are looking good for Microsoft plus they established a deal with Atlus a few months back so I can't wait what they come up with next year.

TrapInNewYork
TrapInNewYork

Finally a real and good RPG for the 360. It's about damn time!

soldjango
soldjango

All of these jrpgs look alike, including FF @ParisSun: I'll give you the FF part because almost all use the same art style (though that doesn't make them all look the same), but the graphics in JRPG's are pretty varied. For example: Tales of~ graphics /=/ FF graphics, and Eternal Sonata graphics /=/ The Last Remnant graphics

ParisSun
ParisSun

Looks good, but what about more western rpgs like Mass Effect. I can't wait for Fallout. All of these jrpgs look alike, including FF. But I will pick this one up because I'm an rpg nut.

spicyramen08
spicyramen08

I am interested in this game for the beautiful graphics and because I am new to the Tales series for the most part; I need a new game for my X360, a game that is a RPG.

bin-hiding
bin-hiding

just played the demo and it looks amazing... just a couple more weeks and the full version will be available to enjoy.

Ed_The_Great
Ed_The_Great

Tales of Vesperia,Infinite Undiscoveries,Last Remnant,Oh Yeah!The demo was great!

anOompaLoompa
anOompaLoompa

This.. Is pretty funny. I always remembered playstation for having the good RPG's. Not anymore. I played the demo of this game and it is amazing. And on top of that, 360 is getting FF XIII. So.. PS3.. You can suck a nice 360 d**k.

TMontana1004
TMontana1004

I hope they add some extra content fpr the pre-order! This is my most anticipated JRPG for 2008 :D

Rugby_Gentleman
Rugby_Gentleman

I can't believe I'm saying this but this game has made me go XBOX over PS3, sorry Sony :( I feel like a traitor... gettin' that 360 tomorrow!

roxythethegreat
roxythethegreat

just for the record, eternal sonata, worst RPG i ever played

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

I'm sorry, but whether you like them all or any of them at all, the 360 is leading this gen with RPG's, I mean I can go to the store RIGHT NOW and get , Lost Oddasy, Blue Dragon, Eternal Sonata, plus action RPG's like Mass Effect. I just find it so wierd that Sony has so few RPG's of ANY kind almost TWO years into the PS3's life. They are putting all their eggs in one basket with FFXIII and in the meantime Square announced another handfull on NEW RPG's for the 360. It's all about the games, and a lot of RPG freaks that have been waiting to buy a new console based on FFXIII are gonna start realizing that the 360 has the better variety and selection of RPG's, and the 360 is delving in with the "Age of Conan" and a handful of this type for the MMO angle . I would of never thought this gen would start turning out this way. I was a real hardcore PS2 player and went right for the PS3, but after a year with nothing I have a 360 now as well, and am happy as a clam.

Tacoman001
Tacoman001

Tales + 360 should equal awesome. I'll reserve judgement till I've spent 20 hours with it. But so far it looks promising.

Shinkada
Shinkada

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The characters in this are sounding approximately 10% as interesting as Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss ALONE, let alone the entire cast. A 'dashing swordsman driven to knighthood by the search for justice'? Hardly beats spoilt brat of a noble who's been locked in a mansion for literally as long as he can remember. I'm going to give it a fair chance, because Tales games have surprised me before, but so far it looks like I'll return this game 5 days after I buy it when I inevitably hate all the boring, archetypical, ripped-straight-from-any-one-of-five-billion-anime-series' characters.

bin-hiding
bin-hiding

the tale games are always amazing, and they manage to do it all in different platforms, the xbox is in dire need of another good RPG, this game will make m drop CoD4 for at least a couple of days

shujikun07
shujikun07

Tales of Symphonia was the first Tales game I played, and I loved it. Can't wait for this... Of course I love JRPG's... I found Eternal Sonata to be an excellent experience myself...

businessfox
businessfox

Looks and sounds good, I just hope is plays the same way as well.

imperial_agent
imperial_agent

not a big fan of jrpgs (Eternal Sonata was terrible imo), but this doesn't look so bad.

mauigamer91
mauigamer91

I love how the Tales series manages to be above average even though there's a new game in it practically every year. I just wonder how awesome the games could be if a lot more time was spent making them (that's a positive comment, btw) On another note, Repede is looking to be one of the most BA animals since Amaterasu

zeqs
zeqs

Kudos to BaMco!! i'll never for get the predecessors~! I just hope they bring over the rest of their great games.. Im currenntly playing Phantasia:FVE and its great! I hope one day destiny: Directors Cut, Destiny 2, rebirth, innocence, tempest, and the rest can be enjoyed by US players, as well.. Thanks bamco! :)

rbop
rbop

XBOX 360!!! ...Home of the RPG???

peterj_123
peterj_123

Yay another great looking rpg coming to 360! and there bringing out another tales of symphonia game for the wii!

sinx1971
sinx1971

Looks like a good start of upcoming solid RPG's releases for the Xbox 360

DIGN
DIGN

looks pretty awesome i'll play it cuz I love all RPGs except 1 Radiata Stories sucked. no offence it's fun but then when you start to like the gameplay I got lost and didn't know where to go no hints no nothin.

DIGN
DIGN

looks pretty awesome i'll play it cuz I love all RPGs except 1 Radiata Stories sucked. no offence it's fun but then when you start to like the gameplay I got lost and didn't know where to go no hints no nothin.

Ra-Devil
Ra-Devil

I loved Tales of Symphonia, I hope this is right on track with that game. And why does this article say that this game is trying to bring the RPG feel to the 360? What about Enchanted Arms, Eternal Sonata, Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey? Were those NOT suppose to bring the whole Standar RPG (JRPG) feel to the 360? I mean, who wrote that sentence under that picture? I may not be a big fan, as I didn't play a single one of those games, but seariously, I'm not going to dismiss them as trying to make JRPGs sell on the 360.

Sunrie
Sunrie

This looks very interesting and I'll end up at least checking it out. I'm still looking forward to Star Ocean 4, however.

sandshark8
sandshark8

is this by the same people that made Eternal Sonata? They look near identical

Ravurn
Ravurn

Looks crazy...I would most definitely want to get my hands on this :)

dee200
dee200

i am now an xbox fan i hate what i once loved nintendo u let me done.But i cant believe xbox juz wen i thought it was over for xbox it shook back onthis 360 wit a lot off good games maube because its the first american made system other then the pc got dam i love xbox now p.s the ps3 anit looking so goof either its downing me to.

October_Tide
October_Tide

Wow this is looking good. The only tales game i have played was Tales of Symphonia back on GC and i did love that game. I will definitly give this one a look.

PhantomPhoot
PhantomPhoot

It's funny how the 360 has a truckload more RPG's than the PS3, and we all thought the opposite would happen.

Raivon
Raivon

I will get this one !!

Mr_Kappa
Mr_Kappa

you guys right, my bad. namco(-bandai), not capcom^^ but the point is the same

deadstarr
deadstarr

Cool, coming out soon too, so I'll pick that up.

Zarzha
Zarzha

*minor spoiler* This is a tales game on a new console, but I hope they still put in abyssion, cuz he's badass to fight against, especially on Unknown. *minor spoiler ends* Tales games are extremely fun, especially the battles. I hope they imrpoved healer's AI further when i don't have friends over. Besides that, this game is looking good.

Azhar85
Azhar85

look fun...and great to play...but MS must get rid of their hardware failure first.....(maybe jasper unit will realise this objective)

Dragoniser
Dragoniser

SWEEEEEET !!! love the tales series ....... cant wait ......