Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World - Reader Review  

Mish Mash of Love and Ratatosk Mode!
by Jared Prewitt

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20-40 Hours
+ Monster evolutions, which strengthens the creatures and the party
+ Good voice acting
+ Memorable characters
+ Fast paced action with plenty of cinema scenes
- Not a lot of sidequests
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   Heroes of the past leave a trail of accomplishments and expectations. When a sequal comes into bloom, after blossoming from the story that preceded it, many gamers question whether or not the second installment will be up to par. Fortunately, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World delivers a memorable experience where RPG fans revisit the world that sparked a huge fanbase. The sequal entertains players with a new cast of heroes that obtain assistance from the protagonists that fought the noble cause of World Regeneration. With only a couple of years passing from the first game, the sequal dives into a new story, which ultimately centers on saving the world. While the sequal boasts similir features from its predecessor, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World manages to convey a constructed plot that intrigues players in wanting to know more about the main characters. The protagonist in the game sports the conventional motifs of other RPG games, but the truth behind the ensuing chaos is worth investigating.

   The story revolves around the protagonists, Emil and Marta, whose duty is to retreive the Centurion's cores and awake the mighty Ratatosk in order to restore balance to the world. Emil is a character that is shy, weak, becomes scared easily, and wants revenge against Lloyd due to Palmacosta's downfall. The main character eventually leaves his home town upon getting entangled with the second protagonist who is the polar opposite of Emil. Marta, a strong willed an energetic love obssessed heroine with Ratatosk's core on her forehead, serves to counter, contrast, and fulfill Emil's flaws as Emil makes a pact with Tenebrae, Centurion of Darkness accompanying Marta, in order to protect her. Her infatuation with Emil becomes apparent when she reunites with him, after being saved by him before, but is being chased by Richter, a member of the heinous group known as the Vanguard. Richter and the Vanguard propel the plot by serving as the adversaries that want to obtain the Centurions' cores and stop the awakening of Ratatosk. Emil's joining Marta on her quests intrigues gamers as Emil's pact endows him with power, which alters his demeanor. Marta's encounter with Emil allows gamers to see both the comical and interesting aspects of the two's relationship as she tries to force her feelings upon him, while he cowers away and tries to take a passive stance.

"Why do you have to be so forward?" "Why do you have to be so forward?"

   The fully voiced character skits entertains RPG fans as Emil and Marta's frequent love spats, providing more insight into their personality quirks, makes each character adorable. The visuals coincide with the cinema scenes in the game that engrosses gamers to see what is going to happen next. Visually, the three-dimensional polygons that compose the characters make the game beautiful as its predicessor through the main characters spouting out their feelings and have to battle with the turmoil of the world and their own inner conflicts. Along the way gamers see familiar faces of previous Tales of characters as they take on the support role and want to figure out why Lloyd is acting the way he is. The usage of previous towns from the first game sets the stage for future events that lead into the truth behind the Centurions' cores, the role of Ratatosk, Lloyd's motives, and Emil's destiny as a Knight of Ratatosk.

   Battling is set in real time and repeats the standard conventions that other Tales games embody. The use of the Wii controller does not hinder the experience. The "A" button is the primary source of regular attacks, while the "B" button underneath is the trigger for artes. Interestingly, the game does not incorporate the number of uses of certain technique. In fact, the artes do not evolve into more powerful abilities. Instead, the player acquires new artes and skills to equip through leveling. The skills serve to empower the protagonist with better resistance against status effects, have additional combos, and alter an arte on occaision. Unfortunately, there is not strategic command that allows to set characters to just healing. Many times the RPG player has to use items or issue a command to Marta, or a monster that has been given a healing spell, to cleanse Emil of his wounds. Aside from the moderate challenge of the hands on battling, the battle system evolves with the use of monsters. The gamer's party will consist of using monsters that are obtained after battle if the player is lucky enough to initiate a spellbind finishing blow upon the enemy. The protagonist will be prompted to answer the question of whether or not they want to have a monster join. If a monster is already in the party, that has a similar alignment, then the player can power up that monster when given the option.

   The opportunity to acquire monsters contributes to the interaction portion of the game as players want to obtain various monsters in order to build their own team to make the critters evolve. In order to evolve the beasts, players must travel to town and speak with the Kat Guild Members. The Kat people hosts options such as switching out monsters with other ones into the party, doing quests, and cooking, which strengthens and evoles monsters. The use of the quests that the Kat Guild provides offers up some interaction engaging gamers to do something else other than follow from point A to B on the nonexistent World Map. The quests are limited and monotonous as many dungeons are repeated along with the same requests. It is not essential in completeing the Kat Guild quests unless the gamer wants to get more stuff. There are a couple of sidequests in the actual game, but the player must travel back to and forth to different towns, hoping to trigger a scene.

"I "I'm still cooler than you!"

   The rehashing of characters, towns, and dungeons invokes the feeling of nostalgia for many, but lacks on the originality. The game's setting of taking place two years after the first installment does not leave much for the player to imagine or explore that is new. Though the story is different, however, the plot resembles the moral struggles of the prequal as the prejudices and discriminations of different races serve to be the foundation for much of the conflict. Even the use of the same characters and designing of areas makes the player expect more of the same both visually and stylistically. But the different character traits that various characters have makes the RPG appealing, especially with Marta's constant in Emil's face utterances of love and affection. The Music and sound is different, but not groundbreaking. It is not completely original as many of the musical scores are used from the first game. The sequal delivers a similar experience as before, but attempts to be its own entity through the involvement of Emil and Marta's quests to awake Ratatosk. Though the game does not support a lot of defining features to make it unique, the length of the story is decent due to the fact the fast paced story is consumed with many voiced over scenes, being accompanied with guitar and orchestral melodies.

   Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World offers up a continuation to an installment that ensnare many RPG fans into the series. The sequal explores into some unanswered questions, allowing fans to see what happen to the group and what the new crisis is all about. But because it is tagged as a sequal to Tales of Symphonia, many gamers will come bearing high expectations. The game's experience is enhanced through affiiliation of having familiar faces rejoin the party, but the designers made the game work by not focusing too much on the heroes of legend. The frequent changes that Emil undertakes as the adventure continues keeps players interested in finishing the 20-40 hour sequal. Its uniqueness is not present, but the feeling of it being called a Tales game remains through the influence of using stock characters.

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