Capsule Reviews 1: Some Games You May Have Missed (Me Yak About)

Well, 2015 zipped by too quickly (he typed, knowing that the year isn’t quite over but hey, everyone else seems to be doing year-end articles) and I while didn’t get to write as many reviews as I’d have liked to, I took a ton of notes on things so I could sit down and catch up a some point. The best laid plans of mice and men (and Bemis!) often go wildly astray, so instead of long form full reviews, I’m going to do a bunch of capsule commentary on games, films and books over the next few days just so you have a little something to read when you pop by. Anyway, some quickie game impressions to get started: 

Tales of Zestiria Cast 

Tales of Zestiria (PS4/PS3/PC, $59.99/$49.99 respectively) – Namco’s Tales Studio pulls out all the stops in this latest installment in the long running JRPG franchise (15 Tales to date!) with a game that’s part throwback and homage to the first Tales (of Phantasia) back on the Super Famicom while bringing in an all-new cast, storyline and for the first time, an open world map to explore. Although PS4 owners get the better visual end of the deal on console, the PC version should more than please those fans who pick it up looking for something to play and show off to friends. The game is consistently entertaining from the fast-paced combat to the usual humor found in character interaction and dialog choices. Yes, the use of classic literary references, myth and other tropes is piled on thicker than your mom ever spread mayonnaise, but it works well enough to keep the game fun. I’m actually still playing this one because there’s an extraordinary amount of things to do, stuff to collect and some 93 hours in, I’m close to the endgame but will probably dive in again at some point to revisit a few save files. There are enough divergent paths and interesting encounters (make friends with the Normin you meet!) to keep this one in the play stack for a while. Score: A- (90%)
 
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Tales of Zestiria Launches: Your Royal Time-Killer Hath Arrived


 

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No, I haven’t even started Tales of Zestiria yet. But that’s only because my review copy hasn’t arrived. This is actually a good thing because once I start the game (yes, I’m going to be playing the PS3 version just to keep my ancient launch day console happy), I’m not coming up for air any time soon. I’m already buried under backlog stuff from all sides, but a Tales game demands to be played in huge chunks of time so that players become fully immersed in the story and world Tales Studio has so carefully crafted.

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That said, based on my hands-on time a little while ago, it’s safe to say that PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Steam/PC users are the very lucky recipients of one of the best games in the long-running franchise to date. I know that some Steam users are already reporting some mild performance issues (which is what happens when you port a game to be played on consoles to machines with millions of different user and factory configurations), but no one is screaming for their money back.

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If you’re thinking of grabbing the game for yourself or as a gift, listen up. Bandai Namco is giving away a free DLC pack for the first 30 days after the release of the game. Players will be able to download the epilogue chapter “Alisha’s Conviction” free of charge on the PlayStation Network store (for PS3 and PS4) or through Steam if they own the PC version. According to the press release:

the epilogue follows Alisha and Rose with hours of additional story elements and gameplay taking place after the events of Tales of Zestiria. The “Alisha’s Conviction” downloadable content will be priced at $9.99 after the 30 day promotion ends.

Tales of Zestiria is rated T for TEEN by the ESRB and is available for purchase at video game retailers today in North America and Latin America for the PlayStation 4 (MSRP $59.99) and PS3 system (MSRP $39.99). The PC version (available now on Steam) is $49.99.

Tales of Zestiria Hands-On: Old Reliable And The New(ish) Platform

Tales of Zestiria logosmallblk
 

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In the case of and for Namco’s long-running Tales franchise, familiarity certainly doesn’t breed any contempt at all. Some hands on time recently with the PlayStation 4 version of Tales of Zestiria reveals producer Hideo Baba and the development team at tri-Crescendo in fine form with a game that’s a throwback to Tales of Phantasia and its more epic medieval fantasy approach in terms of character design and settings. There are also some changes to the combat system and even better, battles now play out on maps without those brief transitions from previous games in the series. Continue reading

Tales of Zestiria Trailer: Your October Surprise (Plus Tales Tax)


 

Bandai Namco Games is rolling out not one, but two Tales games between this year and next, one new and one old but new for PC gamers who may be interested in one of the earlier entries in the long-running franchise. Tales of Zestiria is coming to PS3, PS4 and PC on October 20, 2015. PC Gamers who hop on board the Steam pre-order train will have the opportunity to nab the upcoming HD port of Tales of Symphonia for FREE as a bonus tier item. This great deal may not convince some who only collect physical media to grab the game, but for those of you PS4 owners looking for a ton of swag, there’s as nice Collector’s Edition packed with the following:

TALES OF ZESTIRIA game for the PlayStation 4 system

Serialized premium box packaging

Exclusive SteelBook case

Chibi Kyun Chara figure set

DLC pack

TALES OF ZESTIRIA hardcover art book

Three TALES OF ZESTIRIA pixel-styled character key chains

TALES OF ZESTIRIA 40 minute “Dawn of the Shepherd” OVA anime Blu-ray disc

That’s a nice chunk of shelf space, I bet. I’ll post some pics of the set once I’m at a place with a better connection speed. Or you can just check out all the info on the official Tales Blog.