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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.
I call BS on Yuri being a Karma Houdini. Ragou and Cumore deserved to die. Hell, Yuri gave them far too merciful deaths for the atrocities they pulled.
And you think Judith and especially Raven were "phoned in"? I couldn't disagree more. Hell, I disagree with pretty much all your character complaints except for Estelle being bland and Karol's voice being annoying.
Yes, Raven and Judith have terrible voice actors. The only tone they seem to speak in is alarmingly casual. Take the scene where Raven learns that he has a blastia core in his chest and has been secretly working for Alexei. Rather than having fear or anger in his voice he instead speaks in his goofy tone as if this is far from a life changing revelation it should be. His later confrontation with Yeager should have evoked melancholy or sorrow, but he keeps that same tone. Judith has this problem as well even though she has less emotional scenes. In one scene, she is cornered by her former friends under the threat of death but she sounds as completely relaxed as she always does in spite of this being a very stressful situation. When a character sounds the same regardless of situation it comes off as obnoxious and takes the viewer out of the experience. This results in dramatic scenes losing effectiveness. These actors lack emotional range for their characters or can't keep the voice sounding consistent if they try to show stronger emotion.
You disagree that Rita is one of worst tsunderes ever to grace video games, let alone the character archetype? Forget Karol, Rita is the worst character in this game. Everything that comes out of her mouth is caustic garbage. She is always jump to conclusions and think the worst of people. She's a stuffy know-it-all that talks down to the rest of the group like they are idiots. She openly attacks people and they feel it is fine to let it go. She uses Karol as a personal punching bag and the audience is supposed to find it funny. I don't care how people think of Karol, watching a ten year old getting beat up should never be funny. She is Jerk Sue incarnate and to stand out amoung a group of lackluster performances it should tell you how terrible she truly is.
Yuri is a Karma Houndini, not because the villains did not deserve to pay, but because he broke the law. He comes as a hypocrite believing in a system and then breaking the law because others break the law and he doesn't have faith in that system working. Whats the use in supporting a system that doesn't work? I hate that being a vigilante is Yuri's one flaw and more often then not its glorified. The only person in the group that learns of Yuri's transgressions is Karol and he just shrugs it off. No one ever questions Yuri's actions or tells him, he's wrong. Yuri comes off as self=righteous, with judgement that is above all others. It doesn't help that he is the leader in all but name and makes most of the decisions.
I greatly agree with you on this review regarding the plot. Compared to other Tales games this one was an utter trainwreck. While it started promising seemingly meant to deconstruct "Justice" but it just ended up as wasted potential.
There's an achievement for skipping the plot?
No. There is not. There is an achievement for doing a speed run but that's on New Game+.
I personally liked all the characters. Yes, even Karol. Also, I don\'t agree with you saying Raven and Judith have bad voice actors. I thought the voice acting for both of those characters was quite good. Finally, while the plot isn\'t perfect it\'s definitely not the trainwreck you make it sound like.
I hadn't seen this review before, so I'm four years late commenting. Anyhoo, I gotta disagree about the characters not changing by the end.
For example: Estelle starts of as a sheltered princess with little knowledge of the outside world, other than what she'd read about. But her journey with Yuri reveals much of what she thought she knew was either outdated, or factually incorrect. So Rita educates her by having Estelle fill in the information for their collectipedia.
She also finds out she's the last remnant of a near extinct civilization and the impact her very existence has the world's Aer. Thus, her otherwise selfless nature becomes a double-edged sword, which forces her to restrain her natural inclination to use her healing arts.
Rita starts of being an outcast, because her fellow researchers thought she was weird and Witcher was jealous of her. But her friendship with Estelle and the others gradually brings out her softer side. By game's end, she's no longer the cranky girl she was at the beginning because, now, she had something to care about, besides her blastia research. Several of the in-game skits even shows you how much she changed.
I don't know what skits you are talking about, unless you are reading into Rita talking to the party in general without being condescending as character development, which is sort of like giving a gold star to a bully for not to harassing her classmates on a specific day. The only person she tries to change her negative perspective toward is Judith, someone who despite being a complete ideological opposite, is still less harassed than her male counterparts.
You are free to like Estelle if you want. For me, I felt none of her relationships with the rest of the party were very developed. The protagonist Yuri jumps out of an airship to save her but I never felt like they showed a friendship strong enough to justify it. This is all immediately ruined by Yuri contemplating killing her when they finally do reach her. Rita leaps from aloof companion to smitten schoolgirl without any sort of middle ground simply because Estelle took a hit for her.
As for the plot itself, it comes down to super weapons being buried in the world like discarded toys in a sandbox. Seriously, these weapons are the size of cities and yet the highly developed nations of the world just leave them lying around without any search team scouting out or trying to secure their power.
The narrative can't decide whether the Great War happened twenty years ago, or many decades ago. I have no idea what age Duke is, and, unlike Raven, there is no explanation as to why he looks so young if he is any age past 50. Even if the Great War happened many years ago, why did everyone just decide to bury super weapons in random locations. Even if the people in charge wanted to hide them, burying weapons as large Tarquaron would take years, with the public willfully casting a blind eye to the burial in spite of its enormous size and catastrophic power.
The main villain, Alexei, spends years organizing a plan to conquer the world yet somehow thinks a barrier is some kind of reality warping device of world conquest.
Duke summons Tarquaron to destroy humanity and then proceeds to sit with thumbs up his butt while the protagonists go through four dungeons trying to stop the other humanity threatening disaster. I have no idea why he doesn't fire it off immediately. If it required maintenance, why didn't he do that before launching the weapon? For that matter how would he know how to repair and fire it in the first place? He's a general, not a mechanical engineer. If it did require repairs, the repairs would take years from the sheer scale and complexity of the weapon. Duke has no organization of followers so he would have to do all of this himself.
Somehow, the world leaders seem to prioritize the safety of a single city population to stopping two potential humanity ending threats. Its not like they couldn't have tried to do something, like repair Alexei's cannon super weapon and try to blow Tarquaron out of the sky or used an armed escort to protect Estelle and Rita while they traveled to different locations, while the rest of the group deals with Duke. The final act reeks of lazy writing and cliche plot development.
@Immortalbear: I'll address the latter half first, since it's a question that can be asked of most any rpg, or fantasy series ever, because many of their stories involve unearthng ancient weapons and technologies from lost civilizations that'd be better off destroyed. The reason they aren't is simple: without them, there wouldn't be any stakes; therefore, no plot.
As for the suddenness of Rita's development, she's a 15 year old girl experiencing her first crush, on top of making her first friend that wasn't an inanimate object. In that context, it's hardly surprising that she'd become attached to Estelle as quickly and as strongly as she did.
She also becomes less abrasive towards the others, which was noted by one of the alleged victims of her "bullying". Raven also alludes to it during the skit that takes place if the player uses Rita to clear the 200-Man Melee. And so do Yuri and Judith, during the skit where both of them call Rita out on making excuses just so she could visit Estelle. So yes, she not only changes her attitude, the characters point it out themselves.
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