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Tales of Rebirth
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Tales Studio / Namco
Genre: Real-Time RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Released: US TBA
Japan 12/16/04



Scorecard
Graphics: 93%
Sound: 85%
Gameplay: 95%
Control: 95%
Story: 90%
Overall: 92%
Reviews Grading Scale
 
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Action-packed battles rule the day.
 
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"ENHANCE EXECUTABLE!"
 
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A raft ride slightly more complicated than that of FFVI.
 
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"No sir, I don't rightly know of a Mo-tel Six in this here land."
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Zain
Tales of Rebirth
01/30/05
Zain

The Tales series has recently become my favorite series out there, after Tales of Symphonia. So, when Tales of Rebirth came out I had to import it. What I got was a great RPG that is now one of my favorite games of all time.

This game, while the successor to Tales of Symphonia, plays much more like Tales of Destiny 2. The battle system is not completely 3d like Symphonia's was; rather, it plays like a normal Tales battle system, only instead of just the one 2d line, there are 3, which you can switch between at will. This takes some getting used to after ToS's system, but once you get used to it, its just as good as ToS's.

Getting GRADE in this game is also very different from its predecessors. In earlier Tales games, you got graded after every battle, be it positive or negative. Here you only get GRADE after accomplishing certain feats in battle, such as a combo of over 10 hits, or winning the battle in less than 30 seconds. However, the game only counts getting specific grades a certain number of times in each area. GRADE is not taken away, though unlike ToS, once you spend GRADE in the GRADE shop after the end of the game, it's gone. Spent GRADE does not carry over to the next playthrough.

Getting techs is also different here. In ToS you got extensions of tech by using the techs a certain number of times. Here you have to kill enemies with the techs, then spend the points you get from that (Called Smash Points) on extensions of the techs. Also, randomly in battle, you can finish off enemies with a different type of tech, called Hi-Ougi, which is great for getting those combos for GRADE.

There's also a weapons and armor strengthening system in place here. As you win battles, you get Enhance Points, or EP for short, and as you get them, you can enhance your weapons and armor in different categories, such as defense or hp regeneration (Armor regenerates HP at random intervals in this game.) You can also carry over the enhancements you make to your weapons and armor into the next weapons and armor you buy.

Menus are easy to navigate here, as long as you can understand katakana and hiragana. There are a few things that are in kanji (such as the stats being enhanced,) but an understanding of the kana will get you through nicely.

You can also cook in this game. In towns, sometimes people will ask you "Do you want to eat?" Saying yes will yield a new recipe, and you can cook it between battles to replenish HP. Cooking the same recipe enough times will allow you to master it, and when you cook it again, you'll get bonuses, such as "4x experience.

There are also no traditional healing spells, the closest thing to it being a spell that allows you to regenerate HP quickly if you stand inside a circle. Using items effectively and cooking are key here, while your healing mage has been rendered almost completely useless. Also, offensive magic doesn't stop the action as it does in such games as Star Ocean 2, thereby speeding up battles and making it so that impatient people will not automatically swap out the offensive mages the first chance they get.

This game also seems easier than previous Tales games. I only died a few times, and if you REALLY can't beat a boss, you can always put the game on easy mode for that boss battle.

The control in battles is very responsive and in my two-plus playthroughs, I have not noticed any problems with it, which can only be thought of as a good thing.

Graphics are 2d, and as such look a lot more like Tales of Destiny 2's style than Tales of Symphonia's. The graphics are beautiful and look as good as nearly any of the "more realistic" games out there (albeit with a more animated style.) The graphics are mostly anime-style, with the only real exceptions being a few of the FMVs that are 3d CGI rendered. Still, they all look good. The town environments are varied, but fit into the RPG cliche categories of "Asian Town," "Snow Town," "Sunny Town" (which is even the actual NAME of a town), etc. Many of the dungeons look like similar brick hallways, though it's not as bad as Rhapsody in that not EVERY dugeon looks like that. The 3d world map looks good -- not as good as Symphonia's did, but certainly better than Tales of Destiny 2's.

The music in this game is a mixed bag. Some songs are fantastic (most of the battle themes are in this category,) and when they are, they're fantastic, but the majority are just forgettable, while a few are awful. There's a certain battle theme (that you'll know right away if you choose to play the game) that does NOT sound like it was meant to be a battle theme at all. It sounds more like Namco had to rush the game out the door and didn't have time to make a new battle theme, so they used a dungeon or town theme instead. There are a variety of musical styles in this game, from Sakuraba's progressive rock-style battle themes, to some classical pieces. The music stands well on its own outside the game, too.

One odd thing about the music here: In previous Tales games, there have been more than one world or time period used to add in more Battle and World Map themes. Here, the switch between those songs occurs more like in a Breath of Fire game, changing after a certain event.

As for sound effects, you have your typical RPG sword swings, chings when an attack is guarded, and footsteps, all of which work well within the context of the game.

There is a ton of voice acting in this game. Every line, save those of random townspeople and very few events, are voice acted, and voice acted well, with voice talent coming from Inuyasha, and even The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Veigue's voice is done by the same guy who did Adult Link.) The voice acting always fits the character, from Tytree's humorous voice, to Eugene's deeper, more serious timbre.

The story is divided into two very clear halves in this game. The story centers around Veigue, whose girlfriend Claire is kidnapped by a group of soldiers called "The King's Shield" that are going around kidnapping maidens. Thus, Veigue must go on a quest to save her. Veigue is very reminiscent of Alex from Lunar at times, speaking about little else except his girlfriend.

The story changes in the middle, however, in a fashion comparable to Tales of Destiny, in which the heroes complete their quest and return to their homes, but then something else goes wrong and they're forced back into action to save the world again. The second half of the story revolves heavily around the theme of racism between Humas and gajumas, a race of animal people, which is only hinted at in the first half.

The characters are interesting. There's Mao, the boy who knows nothing of his past, Eugene, who deserted the King's Shield, Tytree, on a quest to save his sister from the King's Shield, Annie, who's father was killed by Eugene for mysterious reasons, and Hilda, a half-huma half-gajuma (if you've played Tales of Symphonia you can guess how half-breeds are treated here.) There are also many B-characters who are likeable and all have their own personalities.

The story moves along at a decent pace. The first half is mostly trying to get to the town where the King's Shield has taken the maidens, and the second half is a typical Tales series finding of the x number of summon spirits (although you don't summon them.)

Tales of Rebirth is one of the strongest games of this hardware generation, if not of all time. The story is interesting, and the gameplay is fun enough to keep you going.



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