Customer Review

120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Lost in the Abyss, February 14, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Tales of the Abyss - Nintendo 3DS (Video Game)
The Good:

+A very good story filled with engrossing characters
+Very well crafted dialog makes the story entertaining
+Incredibly fun battle system with a lot of depth
+A game that looks rather good on the 3DS
+The voice acting is actually very good
+A lengthy quest filled with lots of side quests and secrets

The Bad:

-The story can get bogged down in exposition
-The 3D conversion isn't very good
-There is nothing here that will convince those who invested in the Playstation 2 version to invest in this one; there are no 3DS exclusive extras here

In 2006 Tales of the Abyss was released on the Playstation 2. It's release was, unfortunately, overshadowed by Square-Enix's Final Fantasy XII. It's a shame because several gamers missed out on a considerable gem. And strangely enough, six years later the game is still just as good as it was then. It's aged well, and now those who missed out before may have a second chance to experience it.

Tales of the Abyss takes place in the fantasy world of Auldrant. A world ruled by "The Score." An enormous stone that more or less tells the fate. A fate that can't be changed. And the one who is likely to change this is Luke Von Fabre. He's a rich young man living in a manor. He was kidnapped seven years prior and when he was rescued couldn't remember anything. As a result he has been kept in the manor and sheltered during this time. When training with his mentor Van, a mysterious woman named Tear breaks into the manor and in an failed attempt to assassinate Van, is suddenly transported away with Luke. For the first time Luke is in the outside world. But why was Tear trying to assassinate Van? And what does Luke have to do with the score? It all comes together.

There are a couple of things about Tales of the Abyss's story that work on a lot of levels. The first and most stand out are the characters. It's got a fantastic ensemble cast. These are charming characters who will develop and change throughout the story. They each come with their own histories as well as their own personalities. Luke becomes more than just the "spoiled brat," for instance. And his entourage are there to fill more than just the steretypical role you first come to meet them in. The story is helped even further because it's got a lot of well orchestrated dialog. It's funny at times and heartbreaking at others. There can sometimes be too much focus on character, though. In between story segments you can view skits that let you know more about the characters and they'll sometimes discuss certain plot elements. They're usually humorous or add more to the story, or let you know more about the characters. They pop up a lot, however. You can, at times, feel drowned out in character development.

The story also tackles some heavy themes, but manages to go about it in a way that isn't preachy like so many JRPGs have a tendency to do. Despite what topical issues Tales of the Abyss brings up, you never feel like the game is lecturing, talking down to you or trying to teach you lessons all the time. It's primarily there to be entertaining and fun.

The Tales series does, from time to time, have a tendency to get a bit wordy and drowned out in exposition, however. As entertaining as the story can be you'll find moments where you'll go to a town, hear all sorts of exposition and then be directed to another town (sometimes with no dungeon or battles in between) just to be hit over the head with more exposition. In Tales of the Abyss this happens primarily because there's so much to take in. The story can feel overwhelming at times and convoluted at others. It's entertaining, but gets bogged down because of how much is thrown in. So much so that it slows down not because the pacing of the game calls for it... but because the story has to take a moment to explain things to the player.

Don't think this means Tales of the Abyss is absolutely no fun. It's a lot of fun. Particularly because the battle system is so amazing. Tales of the Abyss, like many Tales games, uses the linear motion battle system. You come into contact with the enemy and are whisked into a battle where you can move around freely on a line. Soon you'll be able to free roam all you want without being on a single line. You can attack normally or use special techniques called Artes. It works in such a way that battling is actually quite fun. But even the battle system adds layers at some point. This isn't just mindless button mashing. If you don't begin to learn some of the finer points of the battle system, Tales of the Abyss just might crush you.

There are two things that add to the battle experience. The first are the AD skills. At some point you'll get capacity cores that can grant a bonus to stats as you level up. As you get these bonuses you may also get AD skills. Get enough bonus to your strength, for instance and you'll learn an AD skill that might add to your attack string (so you have five swings to an attack instead of just four). The AD skills serve as a slight boost to your characters. They start off basic, letting you free run or recover form an attack that knocks you away. But soon you'll have longer combos, or perhaps a boost in speed during battle. Maybe even skills that will let you recover a small amount of HP as you take damage. You don't HAVE to play with these perks on either. If you feel they are making the game too easy you can turn them off.

You second thing is the field of fonons. As you cast certain elemental spells certain fields will appear. Stand in them and use an arte and some of your artes will morph and turn into different and more powerful artes corresponding to that element. It's amusing stuff.

The only issue is that it takes a while before the game actually introduces you to the AD skills. You'll learn some, but you won't get a capacity core for quite some time. Likewise, the game doesn't even bother to explain field of fonons for a LONG time (but the game doesn't have to explain it in order for you to take advantage of it). Other aspects get introduced slightly later as well. Every character has an overlimit gauge. When full and they go overlimit they take half damage and don't stumble. Until you get Mystic Artes (more or less Tales of the Abyss's form of a super attack) it seems like a useless perk.

You only control one character in combat, however. The others are controlled by AI, but they're usually quite competent. Usually they'll heal characters without question or exploit enemy weaknesses. The exception is that they sometimes will use items a little too freely. Luckily the game lets you customize some of these things. You can select for characters not to use items, for instance. Or to focus primarily on physical attacks or magic.

All these elements give Tales of the Abyss some depth to the battle system. And it's important to try and exploit them. The journey is long. It might well take you sixty hours to complete the game the first time through. However, the game has a lot of replay value as well as tons of optional content. In nearly every town you visit there is something extra to do. Small tiny quests. Some connect to an even bigger quest where the reward is a special item, a weapon for a character or perhaps even a title (which impacts a characters stats). There's a lot to explore in Tales of the Abyss. The main game itself can take around sixty hours, but do all the optional content and the game can be double that. There's also a New Game+ and you can alter the difficulty level in it.

In terms of what's changed from the PS2... there isn't very much. Although you will be impressed that they were able to port a Playstation 2 game to a handheld. The game certainly looks nicer on the 3DS as it looks a lot smoother and the presentation looks a little cleaner. The load times are also vastly improved over the Playstation 2 version. Most everything else is about the same, however. The voice acting is still very good and well delivered and it's nice that they retained it here. The music also still sounds good coming from the 3DS's speakers. What doesn't work out so well is the 3D. Like some of your favorite movies, some games just don't make the transition to 3D well. Tales of the Abyss is one of them. The 3D simply doesn't add anything to the experience. It isn't bad in battle, but Tales of the Abyss doesn't offer many other moments where the 3D is likely to enhance the experience. In most cases, you wouldn't even notice the game was in 3D at all. You're better off playing with the 3D turned off. Aside from that, the only other difference is that there is absolutely no multiplayer anymore. Even if you and a friend own the game, it's completely gone.

Aside from that, the game is virtually unchanged from the Playstation 2 version. There are no extra bosses or new sidequests thrown in exclusively for the 3DS. It's pretty much a straight port. This begs the question... is the game worth getting if you already have it on the Playstation 2? Well, that's hard to say. It's a smoother looking and running game, but the lack of any real extras doesn't really make it worth while for those who have the Playstation 2 version. Unless you really want it on the go or you just want to relive it there's no reason to pick it up if you've still got your Playstation 2 version. Those who have never played it and happen to have a 3DS, however, will definitely enjoy the game if they're looking for something to keep them busy for a while.

Tales of the Abyss is still a good game. One that has aged quite gracefully. If you haven't had the chance to experience this adventure and you're a fan of the JRPG, then this is a must own for 3DS owners who don't already have the Playstation 2 version.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 14, 2012 11:13:36 PM PST
MyriamM says:
Nice review. I disagree on one thing though - you say in your Good/Bad summary "There is nothing here that will convince those who invested in the Playstation 2 version to invest in this one". But the PS2 version had serious load time and frame rate issues which bothered a lot of people and have been resolved here - this in itself is a big thing for some people who owned the PS2 version.

It's just that I have seen quite often comments such as this one (direct quote from an Amazon Tota discussion) - "I started playing this on the ps2 but the framerate was really killing it for me, and sometimes the loads were around a minute at a time. If this fixes the framerate issue I may finally have a reason to buy a 3DS." (usually the comments are about buying the game again, not a 3DS :-))

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2012 9:19:52 PM PST
Another thing to look at would be the general awesomeness of having it on the go. I purchased a 3DS solely for Ocarina of Time and this game, both titles I have beaten many times over. It's not that I couldn't fire up my N64 or PS2 if I wanted to, it's that I now have two legendary titles with me no matter where I am. To me, that's just too good to pass up.

I'd say something here about wanting a Symphonia port for the 3DS, but I'd rather they give us a Xillia localization... xD

Posted on Feb 19, 2012 1:35:20 PM PST
I never finished the PS2 version of the game, because it became a chore and as many have mentioned the framerate did not help. I much preferred Tales of Legendia (PS2) and Tales of Symphonia (Game Cube), but I figured I would give the game a second chance on the 3DS (the price was right -- I essentially got this game for free using credit from Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Amazon Rewards VISA pay with points).

You are absolutely right, nothing meaningful has changed. Though I seem to remember the skits being voiced-over on the PS2 version (I could be mistaken). Nevertheless, I managed to finish the game on the 3DS - finally removing the game from my ever growing list of games-to-finish.

If I had never played the PS2 version, $39.99 would probably be worth it. Having played the PS2 version, however, I needed a little bit of extra incentive to purchase the game. In any case, you hit the nail on the head; 3D gameplay should _NOT_ be a deciding factor in picking this game up - the value comes from a full-length console-developed Tales game on a portable platform (e.g. this is not a "Tales of the World" game).

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2012 1:40:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2012 1:41:24 PM PST
@Carson Hopper: A [3]DS port of Tales of Rebirth would be cool too. The only problem is, that game was sprite based - if you thought the 3D potential for Tales of the Abyss was bad ... :P

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2012 2:45:07 AM PST
Deepak Oprah says:
The skits weren't voiced in the NA version of Tales of the Abyss. Vesperia was the first Tales game released in the U.S. to have voiced skits.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 8:56:49 AM PST
Wow, what a great and insightful review! I just wanted to thank you for taking the time & effort to write such a lengthy and detailed overview =D

Posted on Apr 2, 2012 11:33:50 AM PDT
GJ says:
Good review. I am generally only disappointed by two things:

1.) The 3D is truly poor. I've tried to convince myself otherwise, but I just can't. I think there's just too much separation between the layers of depth... This game seriously hurts my eyes after about 10 minutes or so. Keep in mind that I've had no other problem with any other 3DS title for extended periods of time (I don't do that 10 minute break every hour Nintendo constantly reminds me about :)).

It's way more obvious when there's a dialog box in front of the rest of the graphics. It feels like it's about 10 feet in front of everything else and it just throws off my eyes. This is the only 3DS game I never, ever play in 3D and it's a shame because you can tell some of the camera angles would really be awesome if it was set up well.

2.) Still no voice acting during the skits, although the English PS2 version never had that anyway. But I wish they would at least allow the music to play during them. It's weird to go from a game that has music, sounds and voices everywhere else and then have TOTAL silence for the skits. It's somewhat unnerving.

Other than that the game is great and the load times are vastly improved. Some professional reviews I've read say the load times are only marginally different, but it's really notable in my opinion.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 9:34:59 PM PDT
I must to know, this game is in English or japanesse? because of screens
and if u can use it on american systems, thanks a lot!

Posted on Dec 17, 2012 9:54:05 AM PST
Good review and answered my main concern, no 3ds exclusive content. I played it on the PS2 and once was good enough and things like loading times and FPS don't concern me. I always prefer exclusive titles for any system even if it's handheld and generally only want a port if it is in someway much better than the original. Thanks again for your review, it saved me some time and $$.

Posted on Jan 16, 2014 10:29:18 AM PST
Does this game have multiple files, like with Ocarina of Time 3DS?
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