Tales of Symphonia: Quick Impressions

I’m about 4 hours into Tales of Symphonia so far, and so far so good. The story at this point is your run-of-the-mill teenage anime hero/heroine is the Chosen One who must save the world with the help of not the army or anything, but of course, childhood friends and random mysterious strangers. Lots of teenage characters with relatively mysterious pasts ready for some plot-related forays into their tortured, likely mentally-blocked backgrounds.

Despite the retread of a plotline, the game does have a charming cel-shaded graphical charm, and the action-oriented combat is fun and engaging. Lots of Final-Fight-style combo-based fighting, and the game does offer quite a few ways to customize the combat AI of your party, allowing you to tweak positioning, movement patterns, spell/skill usage, and attack preferences. The combo tracker in battle does serve as a bit of incentive to try to string together better, more devastatiing attack combinations.

Graphics aren’t overdone - they’re clean and sharp, and most of the flash is saved for attack and spell effects in battle.

Sound is decent - the music is run-of-the-mill console rpg fantasy, but the voicework is well done, with some recognizable regulars such as the voice of Robin from Teen Titans as the hero, Lloyd; Jennifer Hale as (IIRC) the teacher, Raine Sage; and Cam Clarke as well, Cam Clarke vocalizing the mercenary, Kratos.

At this point, the storyline is nothing special, and bears a strong similarity to FF-X, but the characters show a bit of personality (mainly through the optional character conversations utilizing the Z button), the combat is fast and fun, and the story does hint at the requisite twists and turns of the genre. It’s pleasant enough for me to want to keep playing it, so far.

I second Balut’s impressions, both good and bad, in every way but one- I would like to slightly emphasize my enjoyment of the battle system. We shall see if I get tired of it later, but for now it’s more action packed than your average console RPG, and is a lot of fun. Boss battles are particularly cool. More later!

Mark L

I hate you all.

Somebody evidently decided that Canadians don’t want to buy this game, at least not at EB Games. My usual EB didn’t get enough to meet their pre-orders, and another EB nearby, one that moves high volumes of product, received a grand total of ONE copy. :?

I am told that more copies will be forthcoming… a week from now. Hopefully. :roll:

Try Gameshack in the Atrium on Bay.

Yeah, I’m enjoying the fights, but it is a pretty hard game compared to your average RPG. I’m not talking Dragon Quarter hard, but I lost the first boss fight a few times and got wiped out in the wilderness on my way to the very first dungeon a few times.

The realtime combats are cool but they do go awfully fast – it can be a bit ovewhelming. I note that it allows co-op play in the battles, which is cool, I may have to try that out.

On the whole it’s pretty fun so far…

Yeah, the boss fights usually take a bit more strategy to beat than the norm - in fact, I have a specific Order set called “Boss Fight” that forces my spellcasters to stay as far back as possible and use attack spells all out, while my healer focuses on diverting attacks from whoever in the party is getting hit the hardest, while healing everyone; this leaves the character under my control to do the dodge-and-weave dance with the boss while throwing out my manually controlled combos. Once I feel the battle is all but won, I can switch party orders to “Coup de Grace” where everyone just charges forward and melee attacks.

I just love how customizable and flexible the combat AI sets can be in this game, and that you can change and rename the strategic combat order sets for the party.

I guess I should have emphasized the joy of the real-time action combat more in my initial post.

Thanks for the tip, Charles, but I work in Markham and live in Etobicoke. My commute takes me around the edge of the city; I don’t go downtown unless I absolutely must. :)

Ahh, too bad. Cause they have it in stock.

Those dirty bastards!

I decide to go pick it up cause they say they have it, I get there, and they’ve sold out!

Hmmm, I haven’t seen it mentioned here, so I don’t know whether you picked it up or not, but other than combos, getting high grades in battle is pretty damn important. So master those evasion techniques and make sure you use your defensive skills (X+down, not defensive magic) when you feel a an enemy about to unleash a hot, sticky can of whoop ass on your sore red buns. Later on, when you enter some parts of the game that are more non-linear, you’ll get chances to go places with some sharp difficulty spikes in enemies, and air rolls become more important, as enemies will knock you into other enemy’s attack like a ping pong ball if you don’t, so don’t make it, an “Eh, I’ll do it later thing.”

Otherwise, taunt, taunt, taunt if you’ve got a lot of long-range magic users and then link into unison attacks.

Also, don’t forget the importance of choosing nicknames. :)

-Kitsune

Well, I’m at the point where I can trade Grades in for Gems, but I’m holding off on trading in my Grade 53 for a Level 1 Gem, in order to get a Level 2 Gem with a Grade 100 trade in.

I’m not sure if Grades are used for anything else, though.

They are.

And that’s all I’m telling you for now. :P

Sometimes its a good idea to get a lot of smaller level EX gems that you can tinker around with more combination EX skills, but I can tell you that you won’t be short on EX gems at all if you do all the sidequests and take your time through the game.

-Kitsune

Okay, so hold off on trading in Grades for Gems entirely then. Check. :)

Ummm…ummm…not quite, but, well…I wouldn’t exactly hold off, just be concietious, you’ll see, but don’t expect it for a while though. :D If this board supported spoiler text, I’d use that.

-Kitsune

I’ve been doing the nickname thing so far, so that’s covered.

I just got to the Efreet Ruins, and promptly got my ass handed to me by a stinking Fake Treasure Chest. Everyone in my party is level 9, but I guess I need to level up a bit more or something, cause either the entire battle was one big clusterfuck, or that Faker is somewhat beyond us, because it just owned my crew.

Fake (mimic?)'s are immune to physical damage! Take in everyone but Lloyd and you should be fine. Use only magic attacks. Also, you can trap yourself so that some chests are unreachable in that area and the only way to get them will be to hire an explorer for an expensive price to get it for you. Make sure you examine all the torches before you fire any of them with the sorcerer’s ring and do it in the right order so that you can get all the chests. You know you can stun enemies with the sorcerer’s ring, right?

Also, don’t forget to explore the world map as much as possible. There are a lot of optional conversations that can create nicknames (not Z skits, different ones, they happen where the light is shining on the ground). Also if you travel a lot characters might get bored, thirsty, tired, etc. and z skits will come up based on that so stay in the overworld for a while, practicing, leveling up, cooperating with the exploration league, whatever. Neither of these happen if you are riding on Lloyd’s beast pet unless the conversation concerns him, BTW.

Oh yeah, if you use magic lens in battle to help out Raine and her monster research, there will sometimes be special voiced dialogues in and after battle.

You can check how your character’s relationships are doing at the fortune teller, and it has a small affect on Unison Attacks.

-Kitsune

Wandering conversations. Got some. Check.

Light circle overland conversations. Got some. Check.

Stun enemies with Sorcerer Ring. Figured it out. Check.

Didn’t know about the magic lens and Raine, though. Gotta try that.

Fortune teller and relationships. Check.

Are relationships affected by who use use in your party most often? I tend to ignore Kratos because I like the “core” party of Lloyd, Collette, and the Sage siblings better than Cam Clarke, er Kratos.

No, they aren’t. That would be Star Ocean that affects depending on who you pick for battle and who uses defensive magic/or bails someone out in battle. The two games have interesting interrelated histories, though the development teams are different.

However, you will soon get Unison Attacks unlocked and Raine isn’t good for them, so if you want to rely on them a lot, it might good to switch to Kratos a little more, in say, oh about 2 hours to 3 hours, maybe? Depending on how much you wander.

Just who is Cam Clarke anyway?

One last thing! The Japanese version had some nasty bugs, so make sure you’re saving in more than one slot.

-Kitsune

What the FUCK is wrong with the AI in this game for party members? I have a mage. I set this incredibly fragile mage to stay at long range, attack the farthest enemy, and use long range magic skills. So what does he do? Of course, he runs right up to the most dangerous nasty enemy he can find, literally pressing up against him, and hits him with his TOTALLY WORTHLESS melee attack, so that he can ensure he’ll be instantly struck down by the counter attack that he doesn’t bother to block.

What the hell? I’ve checked and rechecked my “strategy” settings, and the fucking mage keeps totally ignoring his set strategy in favor of doing the dumbest shit he can think of. Has anyone else noticed problems like this, with the party members ignoring their set strategies?