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Tales of Eternia is an RPG game for the PSP. I've found that certain games play better on the PSP than others and it's usually the ones with less button smashing and quick movements that play best. That's not to say the PSP can't handle fast movements or lots of action because it can, but I just find these games are better on a home console. That does, however, mean Tales of Eternia is perfectly suited for the console. You spend time walking around and there are battles, but they don't involve a lot of button smashing. But while it may be well designed for the console is it a good RPG game?
Being an RPG the story is important. The back of the case simply says "follow the amazing adventures of two friends, Reid and Farah, in the legendary RPG Tales of Eternia." Not only does this sound really unoriginal, but it doesn't sound an in-depth story that keeps you wanting to play to find out how it all ends. With it also claiming 60 hours of gameplay on the back which is a lot of time to spend gaming if it turns out there really isn't much of a story.
The story begins near Reid and Farah's hometown of Rashea where the pair visit the crash site of a spaceship. A mysterious girl turns up who speaks an unknown language. The girl is Meredy and she came to prevent a collision between her world and theirs, which leads them on a journey to find the truth behind what is going to happen. First though they have to find a way to understand the girl, which leaves them searching for friends to help them. As the story unfolds you get to learn more about each character.
It is an original storyline and it is easy to follow what is happening.
You control Reid and Farah (and their friends and Meredy). There is a good sized map, although when you're walking it can seem to be taking a long time to get to where you're heading, especially as there are random battles along the way.
You travel across various terrain and visit towns. When you reach certain points there are cut scenes, which can be quite long and all the speech is in text form so if you're not a big fan of long scenes or reading in games this game probably isn't for you!
I found that there were far too many battles when walking along and the battles could be improved. Fights are messy as it's hard to see who is doing what and it is just a mad rush of one side into the other. If there weren't so many fights it wouldn't be so bad. You can run from battles, but you have to be ready to run the second a battle starts otherwise you'll most likely suffer damage. On the plus side, the people you battle vary in difficulty and you can level up by winning which adds to the game.
It doesn't take much for one of your group to die in a battle. There are items you can buy including a life potion which will bring you back to life, but these can be quite expensive. You also need to win at least some battles to get the money (known as gald) to buy these items. With so many battles there's plenty of chances to get hurt and you don't really want to be spending all your money on life potions, but it probably is a good idea to stock up on them while you can just in case. There are a number of different potions, items and food that do certain things such as restoring some of your HP (Health Points) so you need to consider which items will be most useful to you and make sure you have enough gald if you are planning on buying life potions.
There are clear instructions on which place to go to, but I quickly forget what they are as it's mentioned during cut scenes and as soon as you continue you're back to battling again. Luckily you can press Select when out on the field to get a clue. This is spoken though so make sure to turn you your volume up at this point and listen carefully because the reminder is quite fast!
I still tend to wander aimlessly until I make it somewhere as the reminder is only of the place and not which direction to go. There is a compass so you can always use that to guide you, but it helps if you at least know the direction of where you are trying to find. If you press Start the compass is replaced with a small map and if you press it again you can get both guides up (or press it again and they both vanish).
When the characters are walking they all go into one person so you don't have the group walking along. This is good as the others don't get in the way (although in towns where other people are walking you do get this problem at times), but it is rather strange. I see no real reason for it to just show one person rather than the group.
I noticed the back of the case mentioned mentions "tons of mini-games". I'm not sure what it means as I've not played any mini-games, but perhaps there's something I've missed. It's not mentioned in the manual so I have no idea what type of games they are either.
The main menu is ok and it is fairly obvious what everything is. The options are Skills, Strategy, Equip, Cook, Customize, Items, Formation (when fighting), Status, CCage and Save. With the exception of CCage and perhaps formation you can tell at a glance what each section of the menu is going to be and once you start playing it is obvious what the other two are as well.
The controls are simple and you can find them all in the manual. The characters all move as they should and it's quite easy to remember the controls, especially if you played similar games on the PSP or any PS console, even though they vary depending on where you are (e.g. field, battle or a menu).
The audio isn't great. The music is tinny, high pitched at points and repetitive. I just found it annoying and ended up turning the volume right down.
The graphics are decent. The game is in 2D. It looks better during the cut scenes than during gameplay. The opening video before it gets to the start menu is in anime style and looks far better than anything in the game which is rather disappointing.
It's rare I bother looking at a game manual, but when I do I expect it to tell me all the important things I need to know. Bringing a character back to life is, to me, an important thing to add - after all trying to battle with one weak character left alive only a few hours into the game when you can still see them in the menu and in cut scenes suggests that there must be something you can do.
Sadly the manual is rather useless. It didn't tell me how to bring characters back to life or even give any hint as to whether it was at all possible. It basically just explains the main menu and controls all of which were pretty obvious to me anyway. It mentioned the words item and magic power with a very short description stating they had an affect or could be used in some way. Something along the lines of being able to buy items like health or life potions and use them would have been far more helpful.
You can pick this game up for around £18 on Play.com and Amazon.
Overall this is a decent RPG. It would be better with less battles, or at least improved battles, but if you want a long game with an interesting storyline this is a good game to check out.
Tales of Eternia is a real-time action RPG that takes place within two massive worlds. Its engaging storyline presents a huge cast of characters, each with distinctive personalities and talents. Intriguing sub worlds and countless mini-games lie within this quest all of which provides over 60 hours of gameplay.