Tales of Legendia review
The "blacksheep" of the Tales of series, it gets a lot of heat for all the wrong reasons.
You know, I'm pretty sure that some of the people that trashed Tales of Legendia were completly spoiled by Tales of Symphonia. That's not to say Tales of Symphonia wasn't a good game, because it was, but because of it, Tales of Legendia seems to get the silent treatment from a lot of people. I've seen plenty of people say that Tales of Legendia sucks, and then they say they only played it for about two hours before giving up. And that's what just infuriates me right there. They don't play long enough to actually give it a shot. While it's not the next Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Legendia is certainly a fun game and a good addition to the Tales Of series.
Tales of Legendia follows the story of a young Alliance Marine named Senel. He's traveling by sea with his sister, Shirley, who can fall ill quite easily just by the sea breeze alone. (she has an odd structure that makes her ill to seawater) During their little trip, Senel and Shirley find themselves nearly crashing head on to what appears to be another, but much larger, ship in the ocean. Upon setting foot on this ship, Senel finds out that this is actually a ship that never moves; The Legacy. From here on out, Senel joins others as he ventures out to find answers and stop a certain person he knows from his past from doing any kind of harm. Sure, the story is pretty bland for the most part, but it's the way that it's told that catches your attention. As you venture further into the game, you'll learn more and more about The Legacy, what it is, and what kind of things live on this island, both good and evil.
Tales of Legendia goes for a 3D type look with the characters. While they certainly aren't the best looking, or the prettiest, the end result is decent enough which results in interesting looking characters, with facial details clearly present, although it's a bit hard to see them as most of the time, as you'll have the camera zoomed out during the dungeons of the game. Along with the characters, there's no doubt that the environments are pretty nice for the most part. There are a lot of different places on the Legacy, each holding their own type of theme and environment to it. Research labs have a dark feeling to them, whereas places such as the Great Hollow are just downright gorgeous.
The soundtrack to Tales of Legendia is just downright excellent. You have orchestrated tracks this time to listen to, which is a step up from Tales of Symphonia for sure. Along with those, some of the tunes carry a jazz beat of sorts, which are both great and catchy at the same time. Each track seems to fit the current mood, as well as fit the current dungeon as well. Like if you're in a dungeon, and your objective is to get to the end as fast as possible to prevent anything from happening, a fast paced type of music will play, making it feel like you're racing against the clock. Great job with the soundtrack. There's also some voice acting in Tales of Legendia, and for the most part, it's pretty decent. Each VA for each character has their voice fit in really well with the character they're playing, and the VAs really pour out the emotions when the time comes. That's not to say that the voice acting is perfect, because it isn't, but it's still a great job overall. However, there's only voice acting for the first half of the game. The second half of the game has no voice acting except for skits and certain cutscenes. This wasn't done on purpose, though, as a budget had a role to play with this. Despite the voice acting disappearing in the second half, it's still a great job overall.
Like with the other Tales Of games, Tales of Legendia uses a real time battle system. But here's where all those people that only played for two hours come in. The biggest gripe they had was that the battle field was in 2D. While this is true, they tend to forget that the true Tales Of battle system is actually a 2D Plain. It started out like that, and Tales of Legendia picks back up on it. While it's not to say that a 3D battlefield wouldn't have worked, a 2D battlefield seems to go back to the roots of the series, and it seemed to work out well enough in the end. You can only move left and right during battles, and then attack your enemies. It's a simple battle system to learn, which is great, but it can turn into a real button masher a couple of hours in. Once you've gotten the feel of the battle system, normal enemies can be taken down easily just by mashing the attack button over and over and over again. Boss fights, however, are different. These actually do take a little planning, as some of the bosses can be downright nasty and a "run and gun" type of tactic will certainly get you killed off fast. Because of this, this imbalances the battle system, making it only challenging for certain parts of the game.
Each character has their own set of special attacks (or Eres) that they can use during battles. There are two types of Eres characters in the game: Iron and Crystal. Iron Erens are your physical attackers, and get the physical skills to use. Crystal Erens are your spell casters, and they tend to stay back and cast spells. Iron Erens learn their skills by leveling up, but Crystal Erens have a different way of learning their spells. Instead of just learning the skill and being able to use it, you need to collect certain Eres stones from certain enemies to learn a new spell. You need a certain amount as well, which in the end can make you farm them, which gets a bit annoying at times, but at the same time, this still makes you work to actually learn your spells instead of just leveling up as you go. It's a double edged sword, but it still works. Both Erens are able to combine certain Erens to learn a special type of Eres attack. Each character gets their own special type of Eres attack if you do decide to combine Eres or Arcane Eres. You probably won't be using this much, though, as there's really hardly any different between your normal Eres and the special Eres, and it's not worth the time, nor the TP cost to make and use them, as the normal Eres works fine enough as it is.
Dungeons in the game are probably my biggest problem with the game. Each dungeon design is bland and just so straightforward, it doesn't give you the option of just exploring different things, or learning different things about a certain thing or someone. Instead, once you enter a dungeon, you pretty much follow a linear path to the end, in which you find that item you're looking for or fight that boss at the end. This makes the dungeon exploring very boring, and it feels like you're constricted to just learn what the game throws at you instead of actually learning more details about something or someone.
However, dungeons aren't all that bad. The only thing that salvages these dungeons are the Puzzle Booths. During the game, you'll find yourself inside these booths in almost every dungeon. You can tell when you're about to enter a Puzzle Booth when you see a green type of duct in the middle of the dungeon. Puzzle Booths are exactly what they sound like: rooms with puzzles. It's a great change from the dungeons, since some of these puzzles can actually be pretty tricky and some of them make you stop and think, making several different possible solutions in your head. If you do get stuck, you get the chance of either starting over, or having one of your characters do the puzzle for you. The later puzzles can be really challenging, and are a nice change of pace.
My favorite thing about the entire game though are the characters and the character development. If there's one thing many games lack today, it's the characters and how they interact with each other. Tales of Legendia certainly brings each character to the spotlight, with each character meeting under different circumstances. But as you venture further on, you'll find out that while the characters may have a lot of stereotypes following them, they each still shine in their own unique way. The deep character interaction often gives a history or a background to that character, which is clearly shown during the character quests. After the main quest, you're able to play the character quests, which is actually part of the game. The character quests really shine, as they give you the history of each character, where they came from, and what happened to them in the past that makes them who they are today. This was an excellent thing to do. More games need deep characters and a deep character interaction like this.
Tales of Legendia is lacking on sidequests, though. While there may seem plenty to do, such as hunting down recipes, or finding rare monsters, much of this can be completed as you're progressing the storyline, making it feel like it's not really optional at all. Even then, the sidequests that can be completed are sometimes time restricted, meaning you can easily look past a sidequest, because you had no idea you could do it back on Chapter 4 or something along those lines. The game is also about 50-60 hours long, so it can take some time to complete.
It's hard to give Tales of Legendia a difficulty rating, because the game tends to change difficulty so fast. The main quest is pretty much gearing you up, tossing you mostly cupcake type enemies and bosses. Because of this, the game makes you believe it's easy, but once you start the character quests, you'll soon find out that the games difficulty ramps up so much, that you may find yourself having trouble since the bosses and enemies become much, much, tougher. If anything, I were to say the difficulty was inconsistent.
All in all, while Tales of Legendia does have its flaws, it's still a good game that a lot of people pass up, mainly because they listen to people who only played the game for two hours and called it crap from there. There's actually good storytelling, as well as excellent characters and character development and character interaction, alongside with a fun, but button mashing battle system. If you're looking for some time to waste, and like puzzles and great character interaction, Tales of Legendia is for you.
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- Tales of Xillia2013