Review – Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of The New World [PS3]

Posted: May 3, 2014 in Playstation 3, Reviews, Uncategorized
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It had to be done really, I couldn’t review just one half of the game without considering the latter portion, it just wouldn’t be professional. Plus I’d pretty much forgotten everything about the game so had to refresh my memory. I feel I owed it to myself considering how much money I spent on this…

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Instead of continuing another game in my possession I decided to leap straight from the original Tales of Symphonia into the sequel, set two years after the successful world regeneration of Lloyd, Colette and chums which has brought the two worlds of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla into balance with each other, however the persecution the Sylvaranti faced with the Desians is no replaced by the Tethe’allans looking down on them. Considering the original aim of the first Symphonia was to create a world where everyone is treated the same it has surely backfired.

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There are few non-stereotypical lead protagonists in the RPG world, or indeed some animé, the majority of them focus on toting the values of being righteous in the world and how everything should be amazingly perfect with no downsides – no matter how unobtainable they may be. Yet we find ourselves semi-identifying with these characters as they can reflect our innermost thoughts – Why can’t the world be like that? However you do get the exceptions, the one I refer to in particular is the self-doubting whiny pussy character. The kind which although finds the inner… whatever, courage or something to conquer the bad guy later on in the series or game but the transition to which is long (or feels like it), arduous and painful for both the eyes and the ears – I introduce to you Emil, star of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.

Never before I have seen such a whiny little bitch I’ve wanted to hit so hard since Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I almost stopped playing. However I remember playing this to the end the first time I owned it on the Wii, so something must’ve kept me interested. Thankfully it only took me around an hour for Emil to almost find the backbone to continue on his quest by becoming a Knight of Ratatosk, Lord of all Monsters. Ratatosk, along with his eight guardians, dubbed Centurions, have lain dormant in their “Core” state. The Core of Ratatosk has somehow attached itself to the forehead of a girl named Marta, who for unexplained reasons is infatuated with Emil.

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Another reason which kept me playing was trying to uncover the truth. For those who have played the first Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd was a champion of good (see my former example of RPG characters), however in the first minutes you see him slaying Emil’s parents in cold blood. Something is amiss, that much is sure. It is later revealed that Lloyd is after the Centurion’s Cores as well, for reasons also unknown. The mystery driving this is one of the major draw points and is a great assistance in overlooking the annoying character structure.

Emil and Marta make up the majority of your party in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of The New World, which leads to the empty slots filled in by period stints of the original Tales of Symphonia gang lending you their assistance. However most of the time you may find yourself using monsters to fill the extra two spaces in your battle party. As a Knight of Ratatosk, Emil can form pacts with monsters and have them battle by his side, a la Pokémon. They can level up and evolve into new forms after reaching a certain level and eating. Evolution comes at a price of having the base stats reduced but the upside of reaching a more powerful creature later. You could, if you wanted to, attempt to ‘Catch ‘em All!’, however it’s not a case of beating them up and throwing a ball of them. Only at the end of a battle they may decide they “want” to join you, only for them to run away when you try to let them. As such it makes the whole collection concept rather unattractive.

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As the characters are recycled, so is the world. Even though two worlds have been brought into existence with each other, you can only visit a handful that the game chooses you to access, via an automated path walking map screen, with no overworld field to speak of, severely hindering potential for exploration. All your experience and battling must be gained in the dungeons, which many have also been reused. I did find it convenient that since I decided to play this immediately after the original, I knew where everything was in a town and dungeon and could make my way there with relative ease, however it comes at the cost of losing that sense of wonder and initial step into the unknown that comes with stepping into a village for the first time in a new game.

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of The New World isn’t necessarily a bad game, it just isn’t that good a Tales game. Although it is a nice homage to the Gamecube classic, with returning characters and locations it has no decent element to make it stand out from the crowd. In fact, it’s a game many Tales fans would like to forget.

Pr0’s

A] An intriguingly mysterious opening
B] The Pokémon-esque element is… OK.
C] Return of familiar faces
D] Fully voice acted skits

Cons
A] Average gameplay
B] Too much recycling of previous characters/locations
C] Emil

Graphics 3/5
Sound 4/5
Gameplay 3/5
Playability 3/5
Lifespan 3/5

Final Score

6/10

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