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25th December
written by Splash

Title: Tales of Graces F
Console: PS3
Genre: Action RPG, Fantasy
Language: Japanese
Company: Namco
Summary: Currently at around 200 hours of gameplay, I’m on my fourth run which might be my last even though I STILL didn’t get every grade shop upgrade I wanted. ORZ Maybe in a decade later if things are still moving along, I’ll feel the nostalgia enough to pull through a fifth playthrough. XD It’s one of those good ones.
Story: 7. Story starts off better than most Tales games I’ve played, but it gets as predictable as a kid’s book as it moves on, worse than any Tales games I’ve played, really. Eh, but I honestly don’t care about how predictable a game is if it’s THIS FUN. Although the story progression is rather childish, the overall theme of “protecting what’s precious to you” is pretty nice. And MAMORUMAMORU makes some nice gag material outside the story. I liked it, but I would have liked even more something with more depth with a game this fun to play.

Although there’s a HUGE amount of dialogue, there really isn’t much STORY in it. My speed run (skipping through every cutscene) took 6 hours to complete the main story, and I tend to be slow even in a speed run. I bet some crazy person could do it in 3 hours. You only need within 10 hours to get the full grade bonus though so I spent a couple more hours doing Zoon Cage and fighting extra bosses to rack up more grade points.
Characters: 9. Personally, I felt that the Vesperia characters had more depth and a certain kind of maturity I appreciated more, but I do still love the Graces characters for their own reasons. The Graces gags were much more entertaining too XD; The “protect” theme got a little too… much sometimes, but I think at least the writers were at least quite aware of it, just like Veigue and his “KUREAAAAAA” for Rebirth. XD;
Personal ramblings as I play…
The prologue feels like Rococo and Aphrodi hooking it up with a bit of Coach Kudou on the side. WHY DID THEY HAVE TO GROW UP

I mean, I like Sakurai and Namikawa’s voices kind of, but I was getting such NICE SQUISHY vibes from the girls voicing guys for ONCE and it’s all because of Inazuma Eleven hahahaha. orz It really didn’t help that young Richard (Sanpei Yuuko) looked like Aphrodi with a haircut and spoke with the same speech patterns. And Asbel (Kaida Yuki, but Sakurai when he gets older) uses “nante ne!” as one of his victory quotes. Wtfffffffff

Well, at least Mizushima comes in later >w< ~ I just wish his character had a better haircut. As a side note, it's amazing how Kaida and Sanpei really did sound like younger versions of Sakurai and Namikawa in the game. Graphics: 10. These more recent Tales titles are always pretty, and this game is no exception. The character expressions are an extra step up from Vesperia, so I shall give it the full boost.
Sound: 9.5. More on this later?
Gameplay: 10. Again, smart on the seamless gameplay thanks to game installation. Still getting comfortable with the system, but it’s been entertaining thus far. More challenging than Vesperia, but in a generally better way.

I am a tiny bit turned down by the level of chaos this game system brings, however. Especially for the first 20 or so hours of gameplay, it lacks a lot of variety, and it’s really easy to get tired of hearing the same move noises over and over again. I REALLY don’t need to hear Asbel going “IKAZUCHI YO!” like 5 times in a single monster battle. At least the characters in Vesperia were more interactive with each other and thus created more aural variety during battles. XD; As someone who’s ultra ultra sensitive to the audio variation, this part of the gameplay experience definitely could use some work. I’ve even turned the battle sounds/voices super low since I’ve gotten tired of it after a while. Thus far, this seems to be a good solution, as further down the line when the characters FINALLY learn more than a couple techniques, there turns out to be so much random noise that turning it down makes it that much easier to take. XD;

Anyway, yeah, the starting barrier is a pretty big chore, as I’ve noticed in a lot of Tales games. Unfortunately, that’s probably what disappoints a lot of RPG players who try out the Tales titles from the recent generation consoles. You really need to invest a lot of time into the game before the battles really become worthwhile. Like… 100 hours before you can even start on the real awesomeness it contains.

One end complaint I have about the system, I hate so much that you can’t even carry over upgraded weapons onto the next gameplay. I hope Xillia has a better Grade Shop system.

Replay Value: As per usual, a 3rd play is demanded in order to obtain all the worthwhile grade shop upgrades. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to get it in just 2 playthroughs with the setup in this game, since you earn grade through certain accomplishments rather than through battle grinding, although grinding is still part of it. I never really appreciated that aspect about the Tales series, and one of the biggest reasons why I love Vesperia is because you can get all the grade you need during the first playthrough rather easily, and thus you spare yourself a LOT of pointless grinding or just time in general. We’ll see what I’ll be able to manage with Graces F. XD;;;
Overall: 10. They boast the Future arc having a script 2/3 as long as the original story, but a lot of that Future script is pretty… gag-filled. Which I was personally okay with, but I bet some others would have a fit with it.
Regardless of any of that story quirkiness, there’s just so much good stuff in this RPG. It deserves a good score.

I’m not going to get into the whole Wii versus PS3 thing except that the Wii version was obviously a pseudo-beta for the PS3 version anyway, so eh.

In terms of Graces F versus Vesperia, however, I will say both of them are amazing in their own ways. Gameplay-wise… The rare civil conversation on Gamefaqs does a pretty good job at portraying the differences. In my personal way of summarizing it, Graces F is more enjoyable in general battling. But Vesperia offers a more unique challenge with the Overlimit Hi-ougi (I’ve yet to pull off Yuri and Flynn’s combo because I suck XDDD). Where Vesperia has faults in its overdependence on Overlimits, one could say Graces F has just as much fault in not reaching that extreme extra level in combo technique. It’s not to say Graces F doesn’t offer a challenge, there’s always raising hits (although it’s one-sided all up to Hubert XDDD) and such.

Also, it could be I just don’t have access to it yet, but the battle arena doesn’t have a team mode to start off with? Soloing bores me, to be masochistically honest. I like having my AI allies even if they aren’t as useful XD

PS3 wiki
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