Tales of Symphonia returns to the Nintendo platform after its highly acclaimed showing on the Nintendo Gamecube. It's been four years since Tales originally was released which means the timing could be better for Namco Bandai to re-introduce the franchise on a new gaming platform. Following two new heroes into a world of ruin to confront the lord of all monsters, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is everything the original was, and then more. Prepare for a bit of the same, and a little bit of the new in this new adventure, Tales-style.
Gamers who have enjoyed Tales of Symphonia (2004) on the Gamecube will be happy to see Tales of Symphonia returning to the Wii with Dawn of the New World. This Wii exclusive brings a much needed dose of role-playing action to the RPG starved Nintendo. Tales will be instantly familiar to those who have played the first game as Namco's Tales Studios keeps Dawn of the New World close to the original.
In Japan Tales is a lot more popular than its North American, so Namco Bandai is hoping North American audiences can get into tales like their homeland. Looking backwards, and reconizing the original games success, it looks like Namco Bandai could be in for a repeat performance in 2008.
Dawn of the New World caries on the “Tales” series into a familiar format that every RPG fan has seen before. The storyline is set up two years after the Gamecube version and surprisngly doesn't carry the same feeling as the orignal, actually Dawn of the New World feels very more like its opposite, unoriginal and overused. This doesn't mean Dawn isn't mildly interesting. Tales still has some charm, but the thing you will like best is seeing the old characters return for some more action. The storyline starts off with the world that you stabilized in the original Tales being disrupted by a slumbering Ratatoskr, and a growing discomfort between the two worlds of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla. It is simple really, the Tethe’alla people believe they are better than everyone, and the Sylvarants are building an army and launch an attack on the Tethe’alla’s Church of Martel.
Caught in the middle of the warring factions is the city of Palmacostan which is turned into a blood bath, and out of this city our hero emerges, a young timmed man Emil Castagnier. Emil meets up with our second hero, Marta Lualdi who is on the other side of the stick, a former member of the Sylvarant Vanguard army. Marta being a rouge agent is being hunted by her own army... so Emil steps up to the plate and acts as her protecter that binds their tale together with a united cause. Then bring in the magical influence of a Centurion Spirit Tenebrae, and Emil and Marta learn the can restore the balance between the worlds and restore the current situation. Ah, it's like the have done this before, isn't it.
This storyline feels fairly involved when you think about all the elements thrown into the pot, however is Tales is wordy, and bluntly stereotypical approach makes it hard to feel compassion for the world created. We have all seen this scenario before in a hundred other Japanese role-playing games, so Dawn of the New World comes off a little warn, muddled and used. Plus, Emil doesn’t help things either with his meek attitude. Nothing concerning the characters and story line feels fresh. Dawn of the New World is just another flavour in the bucket. Now if the pacing was a little quicker and Namco ditched a lot of the unessary dialog skits, then thing might have been a more interesting. However this is Tales, and for a lot of gamers this is exactly what they want.
Keeping with tradition, the gameplay is very linear, so don’t expect too much besides the main quest. Tales is rated Teen, but it feels like it could be suited for all ages of gamers given how much the game holds your hand. This is good and bad at the same time, depending on what you want out of your role-playing games. In towns you can expect to do the usual run around/fetching quests, jumping back into the main quest with more action and battling. The controls in Tales can’t be substituted for the classic controller, or the Gamecube controller which would have been nice. For your time in the adventure you will call the Wii-mote and Nunchuk your friends. Expect a workout if your plan on sitting down and completing a few chapters at a time. In total Tales includes eight chapters and a few side quests to take on. It's not all that long for a JRPG, but with that Wii-mote in your hand you will feel the extra weight.
The battling in Tales uses a modified system similar to the last game with an enhanced Elemental Grid system. The encounters are not random and play out in real time. This makes Tales a little more exciting as you can button mash through combat. In combat you can use magic, normal attacks, chain attacks and hook up for a team attacks. As you earn experience points through combat, each character will learn new skills. Up to four friends can also get into the action (combat only) if you want to hook up more controllers and do the do. In combat you can also snag up monsters and add them to your party. This is a new feature in Tales making the captured beasts fight along side your heroes. Adding monsters gives a little more variation to the characters you can amount in the game, plus it makes combat a little more rewarding if you are monster hunting. Monsters can also evolve learning new skills which hap level caps attached to them.
The graphics won’t win any awards, but they are nice enough to pass the time. I wish Namco would have incorporated more interaction with the game world, however keeping with that tradition, we are left only to poke bookcases and press buttons against random objects. The load times are also frequent and can take a little bit to load which might grown against your patience level. For the Wii, the graphics have a lot of cool effects and is slightly above the average, but overall Tales feels a little too much like last-gen. Once you get into the groove and stop focusing on the blurry textures and dated animation, Tales is acceptable and likely on par with your expectations.
Dawn of a New World also supports the New Game+ feature which is excellent for those who players who want to collect everything, and play through the adventure again. There are three different endings in the game which might also peak your interest for redoing the advetnure, along with an extra level of difficulty that you can activate after you finish the game. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World might not be the hottest and most revolutary title for the Wii, but it is still enjoyable, if you know what you're getting into.
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is a lengthy linear role-playing game that will please fans of the series who aren’t looking for something new. Tales holds your hand as you battle through a muddled storyline with hours upon hours of questing and combat. The presentation isn’t improved much on the Wii, but that doesn’t halt the gameplay. Dawn of a New World is rated Teen, however I suspect younger gamers might enough the game as well. If you play it by ear and keep the level up strategies to the basics, there is a lot of fun for a younger audience. Experienced role-playing fans, you will want to look past this Wii edition of Tales and wait for something else to come down the pipeline. It’s a shame Nintendo hasn’t pushed role-playing localization for the Western audience a little more for their new console. We are all going into withdrawal with fond memories from the company that used to host all the best JRPGs.
Gameplay:6.5, Graphics:7, Sound:6, Innovation:6, Mojo:6.5 Final: 6.4 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 12.08.08
- Cast includes familiar characters
- Fun fast-paced combat with mp support
- New Game + Feature
- Multiple endings
- Accessable to a wide range of gamers
- Monster catching
- A decent RPG on the Wii!
- Plot and character development is unoriginal
- Combat is a lot of mashing
- As expected the voice talent is weak
- Graphic quality hasn’t improved much
- Different name, basically the same game