Tales of Mild Disappointment

I have been playing Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World for about 15 hours total over the course of around two weeks.  I’m sorry to say it really doesn’t live up to its predecessor.

There are several reasons for this; first is that what Tales of Symphonia did best was broken.  Load times, for example, are fine, but combat feels very… uncomfortable.  Enemies will slip out of your range for no apparent reason; your special moves might miss an enemy because said enemy is too short, or you happened to hit them with a regular attack that knocked them just far enough away.  That’s when the special moves are worth using; many of them actually do less damage than your normal attacks.

Enemies are more aggressive, too, and can attack under unreasonable circumstances.  If you’re hit once, you’re “interrupted” and can’t immediately counter; meanwhile, if you interrupt an enemy they will often just keep on hitting you (thus interrupting you, etc).  In the all-too-common occurrance of being double-teamed, you may not be able to do anything at all – except perhaps block, if you’re lucky – until you just die.

Many will likely complain about the protagonist, Emil.  Half of his lines in the first hour involve apologizing, sometimes for over-apologizing.   Some have said that he is worse than FFX’s Tidus; I disagree, because Emil not only has a half-decent voice actor, he has actually shown the capacity to grow and become a moderately interesting character.

While the combat system is the main disappointment, other aspects of the game have been simplified to nothing.  EX skills, which had all kinds of useful combos and strategy, were removed in favor of (just) skills, gained on level up, which use a point-based system to equip.

Overall, it’s not terrible or anything – just not as good as its more worthy predecessor.  It reminds me of Suikoden IV in a lot of ways – the previous game was somewhat clunky and maybe a bit too exaggerated, so what came out of it was a sequel which looks bland and plays worse.

It does, naturally, have its upshot – the “Skits”, little character-interaction segments in the game, are really well-voiced (much better than the in-game work) and really bring out the personalities of the characters.  I’m going to keep playing to see what happens in the plot, but not with the excitement with which I finished the first Tales of Symphonia.

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