|SANTA CLARA, Calif., (February 27, 2008) – NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. today announced Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World for Wii. Marking the 10th anniversary of the Tales franchise in North America, these two new games expand the series' winning combination of real-time combat, captivating storylines and remarkable graphics while introducing original elements that set a new standard for role-playing gameplay and interactive storytelling.
The debut of the Tales series on the Xbox 360, Tales of Vesperia launches the series to new heights of interactive narrative and engrossing gameplay with incredible anime-style graphics, a captivating storyline and characters as well as an upgraded battle system. Set in a world reliant on a mysterious ancient technology known as "blastia," the game follows former knight Yuri as he delves into a shadowy plot to use these magical devices to control civilization, or destroy it.
A bold new interpretation of the elements that made the Tales series a hit with gamers around the world, Tales of Vesperia delivers a standard-setting RPG experience on the Xbox 360. Using an all-new graphics engine and character designs by the renowned Kosuke Fujishima (Ah! My Goddess, Sakura Taisen), the game delivers high-quality HD character models and environments that are indistinguishable from traditional cel-based anime. The game also makes significant additions to the series' trademark real-time combat system, allowing players to do battle in massive battlefields and learn new special attacks that are tied to individual weapons. New finishing blows allow players to take down enemies in a single hit with correctly timed button combinations, while mission-based battles increase the variety of each encounter as players gain unique items by fulfilling various battle objectives. Players can also use materials collected by successfully executing finishing moves to craft rare and unique equipment for their characters.
Set two years after the events of the award-winning Tales of Symphonia for the Nintendo GameCube, Dawn of the New World follows the journey of two new young heroes, Emil Castagnier and Marta Lualdi, as they seek to uncover the mystery of why their world has fallen into ruin. In their quest, their paths will cross with the original cast of Tales of Symphonia including Lloyd and Colette, as well as a summon spirit known as Ratatosk who claims to be the lord of all monsters.
Advancing the combination of story, characters and real-time battles that made Tales of Symphonia one of the best-selling and highest-rated role-playing games for the Nintendo GameCube, Dawn of the New World introduces a new monster recruitment feature in which players can capture more than 200 unique enemies and train them to actively participate in battle. Players can then feed these monsters to make them more effective, and even evolve them into several new fearsome forms. The game also features an updated real-time battle system that lets players move freely in all directions around the battlefield, execute powerful unison attacks and take advantage of a new elemental alignment system for even more strategic depth. Dawn of the New World gives players complete control over a full roster of Tales of Symphonia characters and ally monsters, letting them customize their adventure party into hundreds of unique combinations.
"The Tales series is one of our most successful and well-regarded franchises, and we're celebrating its 10th anniversary in a big way with two new games that redefine role-playing on the Xbox 360 and Wii," said Todd Thorson, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. "Not only can gamers look forward to playing these two incredible titles later this year, but we'll be supporting special anniversary-themed programs throughout the year to thank all the fans of the series for their dedication and enthusiasm."
Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox 360 and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World for Wii will be available in stores later this year. Tales of Vesperia is currently featured in the March issue of Play magazine, and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is featured in the March issue of Nintendo Power magazine, both now on sale nationwide. For more information on the Tales series, please visit www.namcobandaigames.com.
|While never really recognized as a role-playing-game-friendly platform, the Xbox 360 is getting more and more attention on the role-playing front these days. The latest such boon is Tales of Vesperia, the newest installment of Namco Bandai's venerable Tales series and the first to hit the 360. While a lot of story details are still locked away, our hands-on time with the game has left us decidedly optimistic about exploring this attractive new world.
Who says the Xbox 360 isn't RPG friendly? Tales of Vesperia looks to bring a distinctive Japanese RPG flavor to the console.
The first aspect of this game that springs out and grabs you by the retinas is the look, which of course features a lot of Japanese anime-inspired design. The anime studio Production I.G. (known for producing the television series version of Ghost in the Shell) provided an attractive cinematic intro accompanied by a catchy tune voiced by Japanese vocalist Bonnie Pink. The characters in the game are bright, as well as detailed and expressive with fluid animation, with little in the way of jagged edges from what we could see. The graphical punch provided by the 360 seems put to good use--the smoothness of movement and the lack of any prominent cel-shaded type of outlines makes some of the in-engine scenes approach the look of a true animated film. This was especially evident against the detailed environs of cities and the dungeon we were shown. The Shaikos Ruins were positively aglow with soft blues and greens, lending an almost watercolor backdrop with a lot of depth to the scenes as they unfolded. Another city was wrapped around the roots and boughs of a giant tree, replete with lush greenery. We saw a few different types of monsters, from fishlike creatures and bats to large stone golems that loomed and lumbered about; being the good adventurers we were, we admired the monsters briefly before clubbing them into ruin. .
As far as the main narrative goes, we still don't know much, though we did glean some information about the characters and the world they inhabit. The lands of Tales of Vesperia are powered by ancient technology in the form of blastia--mysterious items that are mined from ruins far and wide. They're used as energy sources with a variety of applications, one of the major ones being that they sustain protective barriers around cities to keep nasty fanged beasties out. They've also created a stratified society with sharp divisions between those with access to blastia and those without access.
Yuri, the dashing swordsman at the center of this particular tale, joined an order of knights along with his best buddy Flynn with the noble aim of helping the people. While Yuri became quickly disillusioned with the status quo and left to pursue some freelance justice work, Flynn remains a knight, so the two friends apparently end up bumping heads quite a bit. Their compatriots in the game include Estelle, a naive young maiden who spent her time in our demo trying to warn Flynn about some dire news; Rita, a spunky young researcher who denies vehemently that she's a blastia thief; and Repede, a stately canine who carries the pipe of his former master clamped in his jaws at all times. We don't know much about how they all come together yet, but it'll be interesting to see the dynamics of this particular crew. In an added touch, the frequent character interaction in the game is all fully voiced, including the world map conversations you can trigger by hanging around. What voice we heard had good delivery to it, which is nice because the character interactions are historically a big part of Tales games.
If you've played a game in the series before, the gameplay should be very familiar--all characters in your party freely roam the battlefield while you control the main character, and you can move in on foes to execute normal attacks or chain together special moves, called artes. In addition to each character's special artes, your characters can learn skills by equipping weapons, which have extra attributes (such as increased defense). Initially, you'll only have the skills if you have the items equipped, but as you fight battles, you'll gain points toward skills, and eventually, you'll learn the skill outright regardless of whether you're wearing the weapon or not. Fights seem typical of Tales games gone by--fast-paced, action-oriented, and forgiving of button mashing as you're learning the ropes. You'll get into fights by running into monsters on the map, and in an added twist, if you're nearby multiple groups of monsters, you'll end up chaining them together to fight the whole pack. We also participated in some multiplayer action because the game supports up to four players, letting each player control a character on the battlefield. The controls are the same as normal play, and it seems like a neat way to allow friends or family in on the monster-slashing good times.
Yuri, Flynn and their companions will explore a bright, colorful cel-shaded world.
In dungeons, you'll be able to gain access to a ring that shoots magical energy. This is used in puzzles to activate special crests that power doors or stairways and to pester the enemies around you. If you shoot roaming monsters with your ring, you can stun them for a battle advantage, freeze them in fear, or actually enrage them further so that they chase you looking for a fight.
As far as extras go, we're happy to note that cooking has remained a series fixture, letting you create delicious and restorative dishes from ingredients dropped by the creatures you encounter. You'll also be able to craft items and armor, with non-player characters helpfully available in the game to give you tips. They'll tell you what materials to combine to make certain items (leaving out some of the guesswork and guide reading that can plague such options) and let you know what stats to expect ahead of time, so you can plan your crafting activities wisely.
Tales of Vesperia looks like an eye-pleasing and solid new installment of the series that's right at home on the Xbox 360. Fans of the series and the Japanese role-playing games should definitely keep this game on their adventure-seeking radar. The game is currently anticipated for release in late August, so stay tuned to this gamespace for further updates on Yuri and his pals.