Tales of Graces f is an interesting entry in the series, starting off on the Wii and then being given an HD port to the PS3 with an added post game storyline. The main theme of the game is...
Well Written Skits, Long Story, Great Combat
Theme of Friendship is Overdone, Over the Top Violence is out of Place
Tales of Graces f is an interesting entry in the series, starting off on the Wii and then being given an HD port to the PS3 with an added post game storyline. The main theme of the game is friendship, but it clashes with the violence of war that is present throughout. The cell shading also clashes with the violence, watching a cute deformed character brutally carve up a dead soldier is just... bizarre. Don't let the colorful artstyle fool you, this game is not for kids.
The story follows the lives of Asbel, Cheria, Richard, Hubert, and Sophie from their childhood all the way through adulthood. Malick and Pascal join in the adult chapter and everyone has a reason for being there and has a real relevance to the plot, not one of them is a simple throwaway who is just along for the ride, which is rare in an RPG. The plot is well paced with plenty of development through the full adventure, ranging from supernatural action to political intrigue, I just wish that Friendship wasn't thrown around so much.
The skits are once again the highlight of the performance, with plenty of character development outside the core story. Even without the skits there is plenty of character development, which is rare for the Tales series. I really wish more RPGs used something similar to skits for added character development, it really pays off for the Tales series.
The battle system has a lot of hold overs from it's Wii heritage, using a two button arte system for attacks. You would think that this would make combat simpler, but far from it. This is easily the most complex Tales battle system and probably won't be letting go of that title anytime soon. Those who take the time to master this system will find a very deep and rewarding combo system that few games can match, those who don't will find a competent button masher at best. Personally, I never found a need to master the combat, except for boss fights which clearly required more skill and investment than the random encounters.
Overworld exploration is handled using a fixed camera angle that follows the player in relation to the environment with enemies appearing on the field. Fast travel is present and can really cut down on travel time since the game has a lot of back tracking through low level areas.
Everything screams HD remaster, graphics are sharp and low poly. The generic soldiers early on look like PS1 characters in the cutscenes. The bright colors will shine on an HD display. Given the simplistic visuals, it is a wonder that the game doesn't run at 1080p, but I would imagine the desire for a 60fps update in battle trumped higher resolution.
A great voice cast delivers a performance that will be hard to forget. (especially Malik, he steals the show) Aside from the Friendship heavy jpop intro song the music is top notch. Sadly there is no dual audio.
Linage and Legacies
The PS3 port received a after story that takes place a few months after the ending of the main game and expands on the plot in many meaningful ways (even if a few points seem forced) The skits are once again the star of the show, providing a constant source of humor and character development. The romance sub plots are given much more attention and are a constant source of amusement right until the end. The conclusion is well worth the journey in this additional chapter.
Graces f was not one of my favorites in the series, I didn't care for the battle system and never took the time to master it. The solid plot and fantastic skit writing were more than enough to carry the game for me.
Native 720p with 60fps in battle, 30fps in everything else
Played to completion in 68 hours on my Sharp 70LE732 with stock speakers