TALES OF ZESTIRIA
Maybe I was expecting too much of the 20th Anniversary Title for the "Tales of" JRPG series. But still there are some things I just can't get over!
That wonky battle camera!
Okay, so getting dirty with monsters in the actual world means getting trapped in tight spaces and being accosted in doorways. But so often I felt the need to adjust the camera with the left stick because suddenly and without warning I was staring at someone's butt, someone's feet, a wall, a monster's hairy/slithery/ugly backside. Really battle camera? REALLY?
I don't know what it was but there wasn't really a single character I truly liked. That's unusual for me since there's usually an affinity for either the hero or a side character after having spent so many hours with them.
I could barely make heads or tales of the earthen historia that showed snippets of the past. Unless their backstory is in print somewhere else, I knew very little about the characters but had to accept the fact they were thrown together in this quest.
VERY straightforward quest
The villains were predictable. It was truly a good vs. evil plot. The evil was evil for its own sake. The good was entirely Mary Sue with no moral quandaries. Killing was ok as long as you killed bad people. Really?
The side-quests were also very short and unremarkable.
Characters who weren't likable: This one's for you, Rose
Midway we are introduced to a whole new heroine, one who we knew nothing about, who was automatically accepted into the plot, whose jokes were not remotely funny (what's with that cat mouth and holding her stomach pose??), whose English voice actress just kept squawking at you so much you were tempted to switch to Japanese. (Shudders)
Two characters actually are replaced midway through the game. Zaveid is good looking and easy on the eyes without a shirt, but that's about it. He has the character of a loser surfer unsuccessfully trying to hit on girls.
And Mikleo (aka Meebo), the hero's literal BFF, was dull as a doormat. Don't want to know what happens to him in the after story. Don't really care....
Giant world does not equal awesome experience
First of all there is NO WORLD MAP. I had no clue where everything was in relation to other places so when I teleported, I had no idea if I was going in the right direction. Since warping cost $$ I couldn't do it often. So if I was on the wrong side of the map oh wells, gotta walk. For once there was no flying contraption that got you from place to place for free.
At least they had established local maps wherever I went, even dungeons, but that kind of took away the experience of discovering what was around the corner.
Second, it took FOREVER to walk anywhere. After a time, I was like, "Oh my God, am I there yet? How much further is the next town? AM I WALKING IN REAL TIME? Why am I still in the middle of this place? That cactus looks awfully familiar."
So many things left unsaid. Why were there no more Shepherds? The Age of Chaos only happened a little more than a decade ago? Then why is the land so tainted? Who left the earthen historia? Why were there multiple copies of the Shepherd's history book? Who were Sorey's parents? Why did Mikleo need to be a seraph? Why were Hyland and Rolance even at war? What was Maltran's problem with Alisha being who she was? Why were the Forton sisters all corrupted into the same type of Hellion?
Where did that gun weapon come from? Why were Symonne and Dezel considered unlucky? What was the point of Rose's backstory?
Please don't tell me all of this is explained in some book later to be published only in Japanese.
So to sum up, only the battle play (sans wonky camera) was fun. I liked that I could bring anyone into a battle; and then link up with the spirits in a very Milla Maxwell type of way. I didn't like that Alisha became a NPC. If you hated Rose, you had no other options.
The DLC should never have been priced. It is a free download hands down in any country. It was 2 dungeons and some sub plot but nothing worth paying for. I had hoped it would be something like a 2nd part of the story, like Legacies was for Tales of Graces; how Xillia 2 continued with the same characters as Xillia 1 but with new heroes, or how Dawn of the New World was a sequel to Tales of Symphonia. But alas, no.
Alisha's Conviction (DLC) was a short blip in the plot. Rose is an inexplicable b***h to her because she's an insecure child, but Alisha finds her 'answer.' The end. Who cares how she goes about it or anything. Lordy, writers, really?
Even after reading the awful Japanese fanboys rage against this game, I kept my mind open and still wanted to play this game. But unlike other Tales games, I was able to put it down. For days on end I left it untouched, not really caring if I finished. I spent $60US on this! That's a bad sign for any game.
So really 2.5 - 3 stars out of 5 is the best I could give it.