Namco Bandai’s ‘Tales of’ series is acclaimed worldwide for its characters, stories, and gameplay. Despite being well loved by fans, there has been some controversy around the franchise this generation as only one main entry of the series has seen release in North America – Tales of Vesperia on the Xbox 360. One could say that North American Tales fans are hungry for a new installment and, thankfully, Namco Bandai will soon offer fans more Tales loving than they can handle as Tales of the Abyss 3DS and Tales of Graces f for PS3 see release in North America.
We got a chance to go hands-on with Tales of the Abyss 3DS at a recent Namco Bandai event held in New York City and the best Tales entry just got even better.
Tales of the Abyss originally saw release on the PlayStation 2 in 2006. Plagued with long load times, the title suffered from some performance issues but the game’s cast of characters, battle system, and gameplay were more than strong enough to keep players entertained for the long haul. Due to the immense love for Abyss, Namco Bandai felt the title was the prime candidate to port to the 3DS.
For those familiar with Tales of the Abyss fret not, no radical changes have been to any of the game’s core design. In fact, the title is pretty much a straight port of the PS2 version but now with some minor new features to make the experience fresh while playing on 3DS. The battle system of Abyss is considered by many to be the best of the series with free-running and its unique battle design. Everything you loved is intact; however, you can now assign Artes/Skills to the touch-screen for easier access, thus allowing for quicker skill use. Post battle, you can also use the touch-screen to cook using the ingredients won from battle, which saves some time. Battles ran extremely well in 2D & 3D with no noticeable drops in performance during our session.
One of the biggest standouts during our time with the game wasn’t the 3D effect, but the decrease in load times. Loading was a big issue with the PS2 version but is now virtually gone on the 3DS. Battles took around a second to load & entry to towns was near instant. With loading decreased by such a large margin, not only does it make for a suitable portable release, it also benefits the title & players as there is less waiting between events, which leads to more playtime. 3D is a nice new addition as it creates a great sense of depth on the battlefield & to the world itself. Visually Abyss 3DS is about the same as the PS2 version, so it’s still a little rough around the edges, but remains visually appealing nevertheless.
Though our time with Tales of the Abyss 3DS was short, it was hard putting the system down. Tales of the Abyss remains as addicting and entrancing as ever. With shortened load times & use of the touch-screen, the new features may be minor, but they help make one of the best Tales game even better. Fans should get excited because this will be the 3DS’ best RPG when it finally sees release – whether it is in 2011 or 2012 isn’t known at this time.
Stay tuned for more on Tales of the Abyss 3DS.