Tales of the Abyss is a fun game and some hardcore gameplay..
Tales of the Abyss features a revamped battle system. Characters have both a regular and special attack available to them, as well as the option to guard from incoming attacks. The guard isn't provided to completely escape damage; instead it lessens the impact of a strike that you receive. However, past these general moves comes the option to also move around on the battlefield, positioning your characters to the side or behind monsters to inflict more damage or set up combination attacks with your party members. As time goes on, you'll also discover new abilities called artes which you can assign to one of eight shortcuts that can be used in battle, and special gems that you can equip in places known as fon slot chambers to boost the effectiveness of an activated arte. You can also strengthen your party members with the use of Capacity Cores, special items that augment your character stats like the power of your strikes or your magical defense. Once again, you probably won't unlock every Capacity Core or arte, giving you even more of a reason to replay the game to collect stronger attacks and abilities.
You'll take any one of your four party members into battle, and while you have the opportunity to have up to three other friends control the other party members via multi-tap, you're not really going to use this feature often, simply because your friends would merely be sitting around until you run into a fight. In their place, you'll rely on the AI of the computer and various settings that you'll place on your party members to fight alongside you. For the most part, the computer will do exactly what you want it to, attacking or using their skills effectively. However, there are moments when you will want to shoot them because they'll run directly into harm's way, not use an item or skill to heal themselves, or stand around ineffectively. You'll also wish that there were some fights that you could have the game skip or fight for you, because the loading screens between battles can sometimes take longer than the actual fights themselves. Finally, and perhaps one of the most confusing facets of the battle system comes in the fact that you'll be exposed to certain elements of it before it's cleanly explained to you. I stumbled my way through using fonon fields and specific arts for more than 10 hours before I had all of them cleanly explained by one character in the game. Why the game decides to handle combat in this manner is anyone's guess.