Tales of Graces f

Everyone Thinks We Should Escape Through The Butt, Cheria.

It's time for a lesson in friendship with Tales of Graces f.
Author: Kirsten Weaver
Published: March 23, 2012
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I have a confession to make: I have never played a Tales game. I know, I know the series constantly sits atop many peopleís favorite RPG lists. Tales of Vesperia is routinely called out as one of the best RPGs of the generation. So until I got the opportunity to review Tales of Graces f I felt as though there was this big, awesome party and everyone was invited except me. After playing more than 40 hours and saving the world from an unspeakable evil I can happily say that I finally see what all the hullabaloo was about. The Tales franchises deserves every superlative that is thrown at its feet and then some.

Tales of Graces f follows Asbel Lhant, a young man who is destined to be heir to his fatherís lordship of the city that shares his familyís name. Asbel is the adventurous type and constantly gets into trouble and wants to explore the world. He enlists his shy and scaredy-cat younger brother, Hubert, on many of his misadventures. The world as they know it is innocent and filled with defying their parentsí orders and attempting to dodge Cheria, a young girl who would follow Asbel to the ends of the Earth. Normally young boys avoid girls because of their cooties but in this case Asbel just doesnít want to get Cheria hurt. You see, Cheria is sick and she canít keep up with the other kids and constantly has to rest and recuperate. Her lines in the childhood arc are some of the most depressing I have ever had the displeasure of hearing.

Their world is turned upside down when, during a trip to Lhant Hill, they come across the purple pigtailed girl who they dub Sophie. Not much is really explained about why or how Sophie came to be there but the kids quickly learn that Sophie must have hit her head and has amnesia. She cannot remember and thing and has to have simple emotions and tasks explained to her in great detail. In a gesture of good faith the kids bring Sophie back to the city to try and help her find her family or anyone who can recognize her. Around this time an unexpected guest arrives, Richard the Prince of the Windor Kingdom.

After an unexpected tragedy the kids end up going their separate ways. Asbel heads to the Knight Academy in a way to gain further strength and to fulfill his childhood dream. By doing this he figuratively spits on the idea of taking his fatherís title and the decision, along with his actions as a child, set off the chain of events within Tales of Graces f.

Sure, there are times where the overbearing message of friendship caused me to want to bash my head against the wall. And yes, the way the characters interact from beginning to end nearly makes me gag. One particular character who is obsessed with poking Sophie makes me want to punch something in the jaw. The skits (basically cutscenes that you have to press select to initiate at specific areas) provide even more cutscene skipping opportunities. However, and I canít believe Iím saying this, I really truly enjoyed the story and found myself wanting to learn more about the world and press on to see what would happen next. Sure, some scenes were telegraphed far in advance and most people can probably guess where the plot is going hours before it happens. Itís really a testament to how well done the game really is that they managed to make a glaringly obvious story quite engaging.

When you get thrust into combat the game really shines. Battles operate in a beat-em-up system with combos and special moves available if you choose to use them. The characters are also different enough that I would recommend playing through each to find which one you like the best. For example, Asbel uses multiple stances and attacks differently with his sword in its sheath and when it is drawn. Sophie, on the other hand, uses her fists to pulverize enemies and relies heavily on special attacks to force opponents into submission. Switching characters mid-battle is as easy as pressing a button on the d-pad and you can set the AI to doing specific tasks. If you want Cheria to focus on healing spells and B-Artes then you can do just that. This is an absolute necessity during boss battles because it allows you to exploit their weaknesses without micromanaging everything on the field. The AI is stellar for the most parts but there are times where you have to babysit them. Your allies seem to think that they can block and take every hit of an enemyís unblockable attacks and this leads to using up a lot more Life Bottles than you may have anticipated.
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