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Tales Of The Abyss review

The eighth entry to Namco's Tales series finally finds its way onto 3DS

The Tales series may not have the cultural cachet of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but enjoys a devoted following and for good reason. While the games flirt with cliché they usually enjoy enough interest and innovation to warrant investigation, and Tales of the Abyss - a port of a PS2 game - is no different.

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It follows the story of Luke fon Fabre, a 17-year-old aristocratic boy who lost his memory when he was kidnapped seven years earlier. After being recovered, he was confined to the family estate where he has been made to train in martial arts and converse with servants until he reaches maturity.

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For the opening moments this is exactly what you find yourself doing. It's a slow start until a mysterious woman named Tear breaks into the house in a bid to assassinate Luke's sword-fighting instructor. However, a magical glitch transports Luke and Tear to a faraway part of the kingdom, kicking off an adventure in which the pair must return home, and prevent a large-scale war as they do so.

The story takes a while to get moving, and even when it settles into a canter, the few twists and turns are overwhelmed by a greater sense of predictability. The plot is further hurt by a copious amount of complex, made-up terminology, which can be difficult to follow.

But Tales benefits from a memorable cast of characters, who are written with light-hearted charm that makes spending time with them a joy. The need for a likeable supporting cast is crucial as the game is heavy on cutscenes and, for the first half at least, Luke is obnoxious and difficult to sympathise with.

The structure is largely traditional as you move from town to dungeon completing quests and defeating enemies. In combat, the player takes direct control of their character, running around the battle environment and attacking, defending or using skills. Three of the four characters you take into battle are controlled by the AI, which can be given general instructions

Characters can also be customised with 'cores', which grant specific statistical bonuses when you level up, while their skills or 'artes' can be upgraded with enhancing gems. The system affords a decent amount of customisation, so that in time you begin to feel as though the squad of characters is your own.

While the PS2 original was never the most artistically driven JRPG, with bland, generic environments and blocky characters, this port adds some detail and texture, and the 3D is passable.

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Tales of the Abyss is far from a hard adventure and mashing buttons will see you through many battles. Nevertheless, for players wanting a JRPG for 3DS, this offers a solid if unexceptional journey.

This is an edited version of a review that will appear in issue 77 of Official Nintendo Magazine. For more in-depth analysis and screenshots buy the magazine when it's released on 15 December.

Like this game? Here are some more reviews of games you might enjoy

Xenoblade Chronicles review

Final Fantasy IV review

Dragon Quest IX review


18 comments so far...
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  1. zelda97 Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 13:43

    This looks spectacular. A great piece of work!

  2. fisher2007 Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 13:55

    Enjoyable Japanese RPG that, despite the graphical overhaul, is showing its age. 79%

    Oh Well, Still a Good score i was expecting bit higher 80 to 84 also i know it won't get a gold award cause of the graphical overhaul,showing its age also I'm still getting this game for Christmas.

    also onm user's that guy is from eurogamer he gave Mario kart 7 3ds 8/10.

  3. mafu1989 Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 14:54

    Been playing this game since friday, currently clocked about 15hours into the game, after a rather slow start, there's plenty of twists and turns once the main story kicks in, If your a fan JRPG then its defo worth picking up.

  4. ShadowFlare1991 Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 15:03

    Deserves 85% for me because some of the characters could do with some work. Fair enough it starts off slow at the beginning but the story keeps getting better and better.

  5. ODNETNIN Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 16:12

    A bit of a low score considering what I was expecting, but I'm a huge Tales fan, so I'll probably think it's amazing anyway. P:

  6. Haru Waji Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 19:26

    I really enjoyed the ps2 version. Tho i didn't finish it, it was great fun playing with my cousin. Great cast of characters too. To have a portable version of it would be such bliss.

  7. imbusydoctorwho Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 22:19

    Nice review,I'll probably get it when it's cheaper and if I can find it.

  8. ninjafox Monday 28th Nov 2011 at 22:24

    I was hoping that it would get a score in the mid 80s. Even if it is starting to show its age a bit i know i will still enjoy it and will still be getting it for christmas as i have enjoyed past Tales games :)

  9. Jabaxaro Tuesday 29th Nov 2011 at 08:59

    Had this pre-ordered for a while so I received it a day before release...

    Been going at it slow, but I have finished the PS2 version at least twice already, so that could be a reason...

    But most importantly... the fixing of loading times is a GODSEND... I always wanted to replay this title, but it was just freakin impossible going back to horrendously optimized transitions and overworld movement... not after games like Vesperia and Graces.... especially Graces...

    Anyways, loving the fact Namdai paid attention to us, so I felt obligated to repay the effort...

  10. Riverlution Tuesday 29th Nov 2011 at 09:19

    I would personally rate this game a little higher. Its probably my favourite game on 3DS yet (probably because its the first one I've played that lasts more than three hours, and I haven't actually played on a different console). I'll agree that the 3D effect is probably the most subtle and useless I have seen so far on the 3DS, but that doesn't change the fact that you've got a lengthy 80 hour journey in front of you, something that hasn't been provided by the console so far. I really do think the characters are quite charming, and it has a relatively good storyline. I think I would have given the game 85%, possibly higher.

  11. kingeo Tuesday 29th Nov 2011 at 10:42

    Can someone confirm if the graphics are indeed better or at least at the same level with the ps2 version because other reviews report that they actually are worse

  12. MartinIsAwesome Tuesday 29th Nov 2011 at 12:22

    I was already sold on this thanks to my beloved Tales of Symphonia. with this review though I can be content in the knowlege that it probably wont be a Symphonia beater, but as long as the story is at least on the right side of fun and the battle system is decently paced, I'll be more than happy to have the chance at playing a new Tales game.

  13. squatch Thursday 1st Dec 2011 at 21:06

    Great game. Well worth picking up.

  14. masamune Thursday 1st Dec 2011 at 21:13

    oh god just looking at this review makes me want to buy a 3ds

  15. potatopac Saturday 3rd Dec 2011 at 14:46

    I'm still waiting for them to translate tales of graces and tales of xillia!
    will get xillia for ps3, and will get tales of symphonia 2 for wii

  16. Tazer_Silverscar Wednesday 22nd Feb 2012 at 14:55

    I wouldn't say it's showing its age, per-se. Sure, it's a hard game to get into if you immediately decide you hate the main character's guts, but I got into it because a character like that will be an enjoyable experience to see develop into someone more likeable. The graphics are a lot fresher looking than many of the other games, especially MGS: Snake Eater 3D, which obviously isn't even out, but you can tell all it really got was a lick of polish and a new control system. Many of the textures in that game are copy-pastes of the originals with a few tweaks.

    By all means, the game is not perfect, I'll agree to that, but I wouldn't say it feels its age. I would say it gets a bit much on the terminology side of things, but that's kinda expected in a JRPG, right?

    I'd have expected at least an 80.

  17. master sword Monday 2nd Apr 2012 at 18:38

    at first i HATED it, oh don't get me wrong gameplay wise it's fine, but i seriously wanted to kill Luke, but after the fairly slow start, now it's starting to pick up and i'm really starting to enjoy it

  18. Rabb3D Wednesday 11th Apr 2012 at 15:43

    JRPG's are my favourite type of games, so I am going to look at NGamer's (TH dark side's) score of 90%

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