Tales of Eternia User Review
My experience with this game was primarily on the PS1 version, but I felt that with the PSP as the likely version of choice this late in the game, I would post the review under this title. However, if you do not have a PSP and you're thinking of finding some used PS1 classics, pick up "Tales of Destiny 2".
Released late in the PS1 days, this game did a tremendous job of using the abilities of the PS1. This game is a tremendous experience that likely got grossly overlooked since it was released around the time PS2 made it's debut. For all RPG fans, this was a fantastic experience that turned my impulse purchase into a winning lottery of fun.
Graphically, this game captured the potential of the PS1 (and it's nothing to sneeze at on the PSP either!). Characters can run around in a 3D environment (although you can't rotate your camera, really) with great backdrops, unique towns, and spectacular special effects. The battles are real time side-scrolling battles -as is the norm in "Tales of " titles-, but they are fast paced and visually appealing. Spells and special attacks are spectacular to look at and are full of color.
Gameplay is surprisingly AWESOME. The battles always push you to come up with new ways of fighting. Different enemies are vulnerable to different attacks. Even the way you swing your sword can be more or less effective than others. In fact, if slashing an enemy doesn't work, then thrust at them. In fact, why not switch your weapon mid battle to a spear!
The player only controls one character at a time during battle. However, you can change your ally's attack strategy at any point. If you want them to focus on a particular set of spells, you can even disable the ones you don't want them to use. Going to fight a heavily fire based boss? Turn off every spell that isn't water based, and you're good to go! If you're worried in an emergency, you can also open up the menu to freeze time for a second, and manually select the spell you want your friends to use. Need to focus on a specific character? Just make them the leader and control them yourself! Basically, even though you only control one person, you still have a tremendous amount of control on everyone else.
Outside of battle, gameplay is still extremely impressive. There are mini-games galore, and they're all fun. In a town early in the game, there's a weird game with big bouncy balls you use in a sort of mega-dodgeball like game against one opponent. There's lots of little icons you can collect and hit to change which ball hurts who or to speed up the ball. It's hard to explain unless you see it, but I spent 2 hours just playing that mini-game. It wasn't a mini-game for the sake of having a mini-game. It was fun! There's even a mini-game that centers around your cooking skills. You can cook a variety of meals with items throughout the game, and you can put your skill in making dishes to the test. There's also an arena for elite battlers.
Dungeons are great too. There's puzzles and tonnes of exploration. An RPG-er's dream. By the way, there are summons, too.
Sound is fantastic. The music is good, the sound effects are good, and there is complete voice acting! Every important cut-scene and even a number of unimportant ones have voice acting! And it's wonderfully done, too. Everything Reid and Farrah say is believable.
Control is flawless. At first, I hated the battles because I couldn't stop my character from running if I wanted to attack. Which bugged me at first, but very early in the game you learn how to switch that to being 100% manual control. You decide in battle when to jump, run, thrust, slash, block, everything. The gamer is given complete control of how they behave in battle.
Replay battle is great. This game is so much fun. I rarely play through games more than once or twice, but I have beaten this game 4 or 5 times now. The mini games always add a new challenge, and there are a huge number of ways to adjust how everyone behaves in battle. This will not disappoint.
In the end, you have a fantastic game that likely never got the recognition it deserved. Timing is everything, and I admit this game came out at a very strange time for Namco to have invested in a high quality game. The only reason I picked it up was because I was poor and couldn't afford a PS2. So while all my friends played FFX, I was playing Tales of Destiny 2 (Tales of Eternia on PSP). Fortunately for me, although it wasn't the revolutionary powerhouse FFX turned out to be, it still game me a top-notch gaming experience I still go back to once in a while today... even though I have a PS3.
If you own a PSP, this game is a must-buy for RPG fans. If you don't own one, this is a good classic to grab if you ever find it on EBAY or something.
High grades from me!!
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.