<div align="center"> <img src="http://img5.imageshack.us/img5/668/tosrcover.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /> Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Review</div> Story ----------- 8.0 Gameplay ----- 7.0 Graphics ------- 7.0 Sound ---------- 8.0 Tilt/Value ----- 8.0 Story ----------- 8.0 The story begins 2 years after the events of Tales of Symphonia with the main character Emil Castagnier and Marta Lualdi. The world of Tethe’alla and Sylvarant that was separated in the previous game has now been combined into one single unified world due to the actions of the Chosen’s group during the World Regeneration. However, even though the worlds are now combined into one there are strange weather occurrences happening all over the world. As if that was not enough, the Tethe’allans are discriminating against the Sylvaranti due to their lack of technological development. This type of action causes a battle to break out between the religious group called the Church of Martel from the Tethe’alla and the Vanguard, also known as the Sylvaranti Liberation Front. One day a massacre happens in a city called Palmacosta due to the city’s association with the Vanguard. The Church of Martel uses this opportunity to wipe out the city’s population without mercy; this was called the Blood Purge. In the midst of the slaughter, a young girl named Marta runs through the city hoping to escape with a strange jewel. Unfortunately the girl is cornered by the Church but fortunate enough to be saved by a mysterious yellow haired boy. The boy walks away from the girl and the story continues when they are reunited 6 months later. Tales of Symphonia had a complex story line for the genre at the time but not enough to dazzle any fans of the genre. Regardless of how gamers criticize Symphonia, the story is something that people remember very well as one of their fan favorites. As a result of this, a direct sequel called Dawn of the New World (or Knight of Ratatosk in Japanese) is created to further develop and tell what happened after Lloyd, the main character of the first game, and his friends finished their journey. Although the story doesn’t match up to the magnificence of Symphonia because of the lack of “epicness” and length, Dawn of the New World does a sufficient job enough to please the fans and satiate some of the RPG hungry gamers on the Wii. The story’s main strength lies in the interaction between Emil and Marta, the two main characters of the game, and their relationship with each other. The conversations that they hold together and the actions that occur because of their bond is something that holds this game together regardless of how bad certain aspects of the game gets. Emil, the male protagonist, is a fascinating character in that he experiences dynamic change throughout the game and is very evident. Marta, the female protagonist, is Emil’s buffer and support and helps to complicate the story and the situation for the better. With all said and done, or with all things watched and heard, the game does a good job with the story on many portions, and even better than a few RPGs, but it has its shortcomings. The main shortcoming to this game is that confusion will often occur if the player didn’t play the first game. Because this game is a direct sequel to it, players will need to have prior knowledge of the game in order to grasp certain aspects of the story and the drama that occurs later on, although optional. Even though the players can understand what is going on by browsing through online sources to find out what happened, or by listening in on some of the extra conversations offered throughout the game, this isn’t something that can be easily remedied unless you play the first game. However, this doesn’t mean that the story of the game is bad, the story is quite good and stands on its own feet, but this is a game meant to be played by the fans and understood by the fans also. Gameplay ----- 7.0 The gameplay in DotNW is very solid, in fact there are few minor errors in the main formula at all, but there are technicalities here and there that ultimately bring DotNW to a second-rate RPG. The game is a very typical RPG with the player controlling a main character in an area and then goes into a battle when he runs into a monster in dungeons. The game utilizes typical RPG mechanics but adds in certain things into the mix to create an identity of its own. One of the main things that the Tales of franchise has been widely known for is its fun and addicting battle system. They have vastly improved the battle engine from the previous Symphonia game but nothing compared to the new engine that Tales of Vesperia runs. The engine that runs DotNW is called Flex-Range Element Enhanced Linear Motion Battle System or FREE-LMBS in short. When a player runs into a monster in a dungeon, a battle will occur where the player is placed in a battle area with 4 characters. The player controls one character and the other three are run by an AI. The battle area is a very large circle with invisible boundaries. When battling with the character that the player controls there are two types of attack buttons which are normal attacks and Artes. Normal attacks are done by clicking the A-button near an enemy and Artes are accessed by the B-button with a direction on the Nunchuck joystick. The battle is very quick and very fast paced. Along with the regular attack buttons players are granted a few more features that they can use in combat. When fighting an enemy the player fights a single monster on a linear plane, however, by holding the Z-button the player has the ability to Free-run wherever he chooses. The battle is very accessible with this feature and is a necessity. Along with the Free-run ability, Unison Attacks make a return in the game. Although, the depth of this feature has gone down it is still a very helpful feature. When attacking or attacked, a bar below the character’s status bars fills up. After the bar has been filled up a certain amount the player can Unison Attack. The last notable feature about DotNW is that monsters can be used on your side when battling. When Emil defeats a monster in battle, he may have the option to make a pact with it and make it fight on your side. Although this feature feels a little gimmicky, it is a necessity when players are playing on the harder difficulties. The player has the option to evolve the monsters and teach it a variety of skills. The depth that the game offers in monster customization is very well implemented. Eventually, your monsters might even best the human characters that you might recruit later on in the game. When the player isn’t battling, he will control Emil and navigate him around the various areas that you will explore. These locations can range from a snowy city or a hot desert temple. Players can buy new items and restock on healing items in towns, while they may encounter grunt enemies in dungeons to proceed through the plot. There isn’t much slowdown in the story at all due to its length and the gameplay flow is very consistent throughout. Each town has its own unique identity and the dungeons have a different puzzle that the player must figure out before proceeding to another area. Although veterans of Symphonia might find the rehash of certain areas tedious, the game stays consistent with many places staying the way it used to be. Unfortunately, the game has now World Map travel. To be more precise, traveling from one area to another no longer requires the player’s exploration of the world and instead uses a single button to go from one place to another. This “point and click” system on the world map cuts down major traveling time in the game but removes the fun and exploration of the world that many RPGs have to offer. The mechanics that DotNW implements are well done and make the game very enjoyable. The battles are very satisfying and the amounts of sidequests or extras are enough to satisfy a game of this magnitude. The overall gameplay portion isn’t something that many previous games of the genre can beat but can be overlooked when compared to Tales of Vesperia or Final Fantasy. Though there are many things to be praised about in DotNW’s gameplay mechanics there are minor problems that deter the game’s overall playability. There isn’t anything major that brings the quality of the game down but when the minor mistakes are added up, there seems to be a lack of refinement. The first major thing that can be noticed around 2 hours into the game is frame-rate. The game flows very very nicely through the game but there are portions of the game where the frame rate drops and the movements of characters become jagged. Another problem with the game is the uncontrollable difficulty. The grunt fights are unbelievably easy for the player to complete the boss fights are considerably different. The first problem that the boss fights have is that the players will most likely die to them once or numerous times before actually beating the boss. This is due to immense amount of damage that the boss inflicts upon you. Not only that, but the recovery time given for you to escape chained attacks will not always be sufficient, causing your death. Skill is something that players will need but also patience, and maybe a couple of your friends to help with the boss fights. To only add the difficulty of the fights are the Mystic Artes. Mystic Artes are the ultimate moves granted to each player character in the game, and majority of the bosses. The move is virtually inescapable and will ultimately cause your characters to fall to 1 HP. This is nearly unacceptable as the players will be harshly punished for the gap of difficulty between fights and definitely noticeable on the harder difficulty modes. The last major minor problem that the game has is the length and feel for the game. The battles are smooth and addictive but the game feels very arcade-like at times and therefore diminishing the feeling of a console game. This isn’t a bad thing but if a game feels like this then there is something that gives less value to overall experience of the game. Other than that, the battle portion is very well-implemented and executed. The length is acceptable but is very short for an RPG. The flow of the game, as mentioned, is fairly consistent but at times it feels rushed to the point where the player is bombarded with a series of revelations and plot twists. This isn’t anything major and probably adds to the drama that the game offers but one can’t but feel a little lost and overwhelmed at times. Graphics ------- 7.0 The graphics of the game isn’t something that will dazzle many players of the genre but is something that can be tolerated. The whole entire game is graphically consistent as the cutscenes and animations are all done seamlessly. There isn’t any change of graphical style other than the anime opening in the beginning of the game. The character models look great, more realistically than Symphonia, and the artistic direction of the game looks better than before also. The only problem that the game has visually is its lack of detail. This graphics engine could probably be used on the Gamecube but somehow Namco-Bandai decided that it was okay to use an “okay” graphical engine. The graphics aren’t something that players will be puking over, but it’s certainly not the best that it can do on the system. The colors are vibrant but at the same time seem bland. The flashy lights still glow when using certain Artes but other than that, extreme colors are non-existent. Overall, people can’t complain about the direction that the game went graphically but one can always advise Namco-Bandai to use a better engine next time. Sound ---------- 8.0 The sound in the game is exceptional and has come a long way especially when someone compares it to the original Symphonia. Music ranges from rehashes of Symphonia to new mixes from DotNW. The music that plays when you explore a dungeon from the previous Symphonia can definitely be a remix of the original tune or the original tune itself. Regardless of the reusing of the same tune, the quality of the tunes is still great. Music doesn’t play a major emphasis on the players but is still something nice for them to hear time to time. Character voices are done exceptionally well for this game and stands out as one of the strong points. Unfortunately people will compare the previous voice actors to the current voice actors and how the new actors are not good but when this difference is set aside the voices are good. Emil has two different personalities and both of them are portrayed very well. The other human casts have voices that fit their personality and their emotions are presented effectively. The major difference between this game and the previous game is the voiced skits. Skits are fun side-conversations that can be accessed throughout the game. The characters are very emotional in these conversations and the sounds of their hearts are excellently presented. Nothing bad can be said about the sound quality or the overall sound of the game other than the lack of emphasis and supreme excellence. Tilt/Value ----- 8.0 The game is currently priced at $40 out of the $50 dollars for a full-priced Wii game. DotNW is very short in length only lasting about 20-30 hours on your first playthrough if you rush it. However, the game’s playability truly shines when the player plays through it a second time using the GRADE shop. GRADE is something that is earned throughout the game and with it players can use it to buy perks for the next playthrough such as inherit skills, inherits titles, and such. The game is worth playing multiple times and is very amusing for a quick run through such as reading a novel. For not being a full-priced game, DotNW is quite a grab. Conclusion: Final Score ---------- 7.6 Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is an excellent RPG with its own merits. The game is very amusing to go through and is very funny at times. DotNW offers something that not many RPGs can do right due to its own separate identity that it holds even though it is an RPG. The game’s battle system is very fun and action packed that can easily have a player addicted to it. The story is heartwarming, dramatic, and somewhat suspenseful. The graphics and animations are amazing to look at, especially during cutscene fights. The sound is outstanding due to the great work put by the voice actors. Last but not least, the value that the game has with only $40 is quite a deal. With nearly everything said, Tales of Symphonia does more rights than it does wrongs and the wrongs that it has can be easily overlooked when you enjoy the game. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is an adventure that fans of the series will not forget.