The Tales series has been one most popular and long-running JRPG series exported to the United States. It has an exciting and battle system that is very fast paced and attentive, a wide variety of environments, as well as unique abilities and techniques with which to customize your characters. However, what makes it so notable is the way it tells a story, building a world and at the same time deconstructing, creating a vortex of drama, suspense,comedy and tragedy to draw in the player. Vesperia was fun, but I never was sucked in and upon playing a second time, I realized how awful the story was for this entry.
The characters for this game are irritating. They are largely composed of walking two-dimensional RPG stereotypes. Rita is an insufferably abusive tsundere that I wanted to throw off the edge of the final stage dungeon by the end of the game. Karol is the annoying tag along kid with a voice like nails on chalk board. Raven and Judith have phoned in voice actors with the emotional range of a teaspoon. Estelle is a Colette expy, but far more bland and unoriginal. Yuri is a Karma Houndini with a strong affinity for self-righteous speeches and indecisive monologuing. They are all flawed characters but instead of trying to improve themselves like previous protagonists they instead decide it better to spout off their Freudian Excuses as if it completely justifies their actions. A good way to examine a story is comparing characters at the beginning to their personalities at the end. Unfortunately, Vesperia's characters remain stagnant and that's the worst insult I can give to a Tales game.
The schizophrenic plot does the game no favors. The story starts as a bunch of unexciting guild quests, switches to a transparent political drama, before plunging head deep into a "Save The World" plot. The pacing for this game is terrible, making the player slog through boring exposition dumps before throwing five curve balls. The villain for this game is the unholy union of Sephiroth and Captain Planet with all the Narm of both perfectly preserved. Even worse, the main characters constantly kiss this guy's ass and in spite of causing the deaths of countless innocents and trying to kill more, he is "forgiven" and allowed to live.
Vesperia is a fun game but do yourself a favor and skip the plot. There's even an achievement for it.