Tales of Vesperia
|Tales of Vesperia|
|Developer(s)||Namco Tales Studio|
|Publisher(s)||Namco Bandai Games
|Release date(s)||Xbox 360
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Mode(s)||Single Player, Multiplayer, Co-op|
Tales of Vesperia (テイルズ オブ ヴェスペリア Teiruzu Obu Vesuperia?) is the tenth main title in the Tales series of video games. It was developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Namco Bandai Games for the Xbox 360. The title was announced on December 22, 2007 at Jump Festa, and was released on August 7, 2008 in Asia, and on August 26, 2008 in North America. On June 26, 2009 Tales of Vesperia was released in Europe making it the fifth game in the Tales series to be released there.
The plot follows young adult Yuri Lowell who goes on a journey with a noble named Estellise to find his old friend Flynn. He eventually forms the guild Brave Vesperia as he and a group of friends start carrying missions for Estellise which involve searching for creatures known as Entelexia. Tales of Vesperia uses an improved and evolved version of Tales of the Abyss ' battle system, called the "Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System" (EFR-LMBS). As with previous Tales games, characters can move freely around the battlefield to combat their enemies in real-time.
The game's character designer is Kōsuke Fujishima, the chief director and producer is Yoshito Higuchi (who previously worked on both Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss), and the animated movies were done by Production I.G. The game's theme song is "Ring a Bell" (鐘を鳴らして Kane o Narashite?) by Bonnie Pink. A prequel to the game in the form of an animated film called Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike was released on October 3, 2009. The Xbox 360 Version was re-released through the Games on Demand service on April 6, 2011 in North America and Europe.
Tales of Vesperia introduces a new skill system to the series. They are found and used through equipment. Through fighting battles, characters gain Learning Points, which are assigned to all currently unlearned skills. When enough Learning Points are acquired, that character learns the skills. Learned skills can be equipped on a character without having the associated weapon equipped, but then they use up a certain number of Skill Points (SP), which are gained through leveling up. Through skills, characters are also capable of "Altered Artes," artes or spells that are created when a certain skill is equipped and a certain arte is used. Through using an Altered Arte enough times, the character learns that arte or spell and is capable of using it without having the skill equipped.
The game does not contain online multiplayer or competitive battles, but it does contain online leaderboards for things such as highest combo and minigame scores. The game also has downloadable content for items that are difficult to acquire in-game.
Tales of Vesperia uses an improved and evolved version of Tales of the Abyss's battle system, called the "Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System" (EFR-LMBS). As with previous Tales games, characters can move freely around the battlefield to combat their enemies in real-time.
An added aspect to the game's world is the "Encounter Linking" system. If multiple groups of roaming enemies are in close proximity when a battle starts, the ensuing battle will contain all the enemies. Also returning from previous Tales games are "surprise encounters." Like in Tales of the Abyss, a surprise encounter rearranges the active party when taken into battle. Tales of Vesperia also makes use of "Secret Missions," special tasks or challenges that can be completed during boss fights for certain rewards.
Returning from Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss is the "Over Limit". As in Tales of the Abyss, it is marked by a visible gauge, but it comes in the form of a single bar that can be used by up to four party members at once, or used by a single character up to four levels to give more powerful effects. "Burst Artes", another new feature, are powerful attacks performed while in Over Limit mode and after using an arcane arte or a spell change. Depending on the Over Limit level, its duration increases, allowing players to add in more combos. As with previous Tales games, characters are able to pull off powerful Mystic Artes. Characters can also perform "Fatal Strikes", attacks capable of defeating enemies with one strike after a certain gauge is depleted. These attacks can also be chained for a higher score.
Vesperia takes place on the planet Terca Lumireis. The people of Terca Lumireis have come to rely on "blastia", an ancient civilization's technology with a wide array of capabilities, such as providing water, powering ships, or creating barriers around major cities and towns to protect them from monsters. The Imperial Knights and Guild members also use "bodhi blastia" to enhance their abilities in combat. The blastia, created by the elf-like Krityans, are fueled by a substance called "aer" that lends its power to the blastia's ability, but can be fatal to humans in large concentrations.
When the aque blastia core is stolen from Zaphias' lower quarter, flooding the lower class, Yuri Lowell attempts to chase down the thief, but is arrested and jailed in the castle. During his escape, he meets a young girl named Estelle who is searching for Yuri's close friend Flynn. Along with Yuri's faithful dog Repede, the three leave the safety of Zaphias' barrier to chase after both Flynn and the thief. On their way they encounter Karol, a young boy who joins them to catch up with his guild, the Hunting Blades, and Rita, an eccentric blastia researcher who takes great interest in Estelle's healing magic. Along with Raven, a high-ranking guild member, and Judith, a mysterious Krityan woman who is hunting and destroying blastia, the group stops the machinations of an evil guild leader named Barbos and recover the aque blastia core. Yuri turns the core over to Flynn and announces his intention to form a guild with Karol, later named Brave Vesperia.
Shortly afterward, Estelle is attacked by Phaeroh, a sentient monster, who calls her "the poison of the world". The new guild sets out to discover the truth behind his words. Estelle learns that she is known as the Child of the Full Moon; Unlike the rest of the world, who require a blastia in order to reconstitute aer into magic, Estelle can reconstruct aer on her own. This method of conversion is so efficient that it puts a great strain on the aer resources of the world, threatening to bring forth a disaster known as the Adephagos, a being that feeds off aer and would convert all life on the planet back to pure aer. Yuri, seeing how the laws of the Empire are powerless against the corruption within its officials, takes matters into his own hands and murders two corrupt officials: Ragou, a conspirator in Barbos' plot, and Captain Cumore, a high-born knight who was using his power to commit atrocities.
Estelle is kidnapped by Raven, who is revealed to be Imperial Knight Schwann Oltorain. Commandant Alexei, leader of the Knights, is revealed as the mastermind who funded Barbos' schemes in order to create a replica of the legendary sword Dein Nomos, an aer-manipulating treasure of the royal family that can open the way to a powerful weapon known as the Enduring Shrine of Zaude. Duke, a veteran of the Great War, reluctantly aids Brave Vesperia by giving them the real Dein Nomos. Chasing after Estelle, Yuri and the party are forced to fight Schwann. Schwann sacrifices himself to allow Brave Vesperia to escape a trap set by Alexei, and they pursue the Commandant. However, Schwann is rescued by his loyal subordinates and rejoins the party, shedding his previous life as Schwann to pledge his new life to Brave Vesperia as Raven.
Alexei takes control of Estelle's aer-manipulation powers and, along with his False Dein Nomos, succeeds in reviving Zaude. Yuri rescues Estelle and they pursue Alexei to Zaude, where the Commandant—tasked with saving a world that he knew was killing itself through excessive blastia use—intends to use Zaude to rewrite the natural laws of the world, destroying and recreating it. Alexei succeeds in activating Zaude. To everyone's surprise, it is revealed that Zaude is not a weapon but a giant barrier blastia that Alexei has inadvertently shut down, allowing the Adephagos to seep through into the world. Realizing that his fatal mistake has doomed the world, Alexei then dies.
Rita researches a way to stop the Adephagos, and discovers a method to transform apatheia—crystallized aer, which make up the cores of blastia—into spirits, which can convert aer into a safe substitute called mana. By converting every blastia core in the world into a spirit and using it to power a massive weapon, she theorises that it would have enough strength to destroy the Adephagos. Realising that such an action would irreversibly change the entire world, Brave Vesperia meet with the leaders of the Empire and Guilds in order to ask permission to carry out such an act, and to discuss ways to prepare the world to survive without blastia.
During this time, Flynn, who has been promoted to Acting Commandant, confronts Yuri in order to settle the outstanding issue of Yuri's double homicide and his willingness to let Flynn take credit for all of his accomplishments. Their swords and beliefs clash in a fight to resolve these issues. Yuri tells Flynn that he is the leader that the world needs right now, and that Yuri is happy to be a criminal in the shadows to achieve that end. Flynn accepts this, but warns that if Yuri continues to break the law then Flynn will have no choice but to stop him.
Brave Vesperia receive the blessing of the worlds' leaders to carry out their plan. Unfortunately, Duke—who has lost all faith in humanity—has revived an ancient weapon called Tarqaron with the intention of sacrificing the lives of every human in the world, himself included, in order to power the weapon and destroy the Adephagos. Brave Vesperia confronts him at the peak of the hovering city, but neither can stand down due to their shared desire to save the world in their own ways. Duke and Brave Vesperia fight to resolve this, and Yuri manages to convince Duke that humanity is willing to give up their blastia to save the world. With the aid of Duke and the power of every blastia-core-turned-spirit in the world, Yuri forms a giant sword that allows him to completely destroy the Adephagos, converting it into a multitude of spirits itself and revitalizing the world. Duke leaves as the guild celebrates their victory.
Tales of Vesperia was conceived in 2005 during the later development stages of Tales of the Abyss. Due to the success of Abyss, Vesperia was initially planned as a title for the PlayStation 2, the executives at Bandai Namco said that Abyss would be the last Tales title on sixth-generation consoles. In addition to this, the team felt limited by the previous generation's hardware. In response, they decided to make the next flagship installment on next-generation hardware. At the time when a platform was chosen, the PlayStation 3 had yet to be released and the Xbox 360 was highly popular in the west, so they settled on the latter. Being on that platform, the team were also able to make use of Xbox Live, enabling trophy and online ranking implementation. During areas of development, the team were in communication with Microsoft about how to best utilize the platform. Full development began in May 2006, taking almost three years to complete. The development team, dubbed "Team Symphonia", was the same group that developed Tales of Symphonia and Abyss. While designing the battle system, the team drew inspiration from the variation used in Abyss.
During the early production phases, the team was torn between an anime or realistic style of art direction: they eventually settled on an anime style and production went fairly smoothly from there on. The shaders for the characters were designed using the game's drawing engine, as opposed to the hand-drawn shaders of characters in Abyss. The game's director Yuchito Higuchi originally wanted a realistic feel after the cartoon-like styling and shader techniques of Abyss and the Wii spin-off title Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. The anime cutscenes were created by Production I.G, with the number and length increasing from previous titles. In a first for the series, the team wanted to have a simultaneous worldwide release for the title, and so were developing the localized version alongside the original. This process proved exhausting. The team were able to make the skits, the game's extra conversation pieces, fully voice in the western version, which they were not able to do for Abyss or Symphonia because of time constraints. The game's theme song, "Ring a Bell", was sung by Japanese singer-songwriter Bonnie Pink, and was the first theme song to be shared by both the Japanese and western versions of a Tales game.
Symphonia 's main writer, Takumi Miyajima, returned to write the script for Vesperia. The game's title, meant to be indicative of the games' theme of justice, was derived from "Vesper", a name referring to the planet Venus. Its general meaning was to depict the protagonists and their ship as a newly-born star shining on the land, similar to Venus in the evening sky. The logo was also design to convey this, and the term "Vesperia" was used in-game for the party's airship. The game's characteristic genre name, a recurring feature for the series representative of the game's theme, is "RPG to Enforce "Justice" (「正義」を貫き通すRPG "Seigi" o tsuranukitōsu RPG?). The game's main protagonist, Yuri Lowell, was created to be a more mature, evolved protagonist than Kyle Dunamis in Tales of Destiny 2 or Luke fon Fabre in Abyss. His role was to facilitate the growth of the other characters, and to have a sense of justice that did not take account of the law. Veteran Tales character designer, Kōsuke Fujishima, was brought in to design the main characters.
Tales of Vesperia was ported to the PlayStation 3 and released in Japan on September 17, 2009 with additional content as well as a different logo. On January 27, 2010 Namco Bandai stated that they currently have no plans to release the port outside of Japan. In April 2010, Troy Baker confirmed that he had done additional voice acting work for the PlayStation 3 version of the game when he was asked about the game by a fan during a Q&A session at Sakura-Con 2010, but in a response to a fan question posted on the PlayStation blog, an employee of Namco stated that there were currently no plans for localization of the game. The PlayStation 3 version of the game features full voice acting, containing nearly twice as much voice work as the original voice script, which covers previously unvoiced cutscenes in the 360 version. The game also features various new characters such as Flynn as a fully customizable, permanent playable character as well as Patty Fleur, a young girl with blond hair, who is an entirely new playable character. The game also features several unplayable characters from Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike, which the game ties-in with. The game also features a wide variety of new character costumes, which include cameo costumes based on characters from previous Tales games, as well as costumes based on characters from other series, such as Xenosaga and Sgt. Frog.
The game received critical acclaim. Famitsu awarded Tales of Vesperia a score of 9/9/9/8, totaling 35/40. Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4 out of 5, praising the game for its anime-style graphics and characters. GameSpot gave it an 8.5/10, stating that "Tales of Vesperia is the best game yet in the series." In GameSpot's "Best of 2008" the game was nominated for "Best Story" and "Best Graphics, Artistic" categories, though it did not win either category. While they criticized the visuals as being a little inconsistent, IGN gave it an 8.2/10, stating "Tales of Vesperia is a strong anime-style Japanese RPG with a wide-ranging story, compelling characters and an intense real-time battle system that keeps you on your toes." In IGN's "Best of 2008" awards it was nominated for "Best Xbox 360 RPG" and "Best Xbox 360 Original Score". X-Play gave the game a 4 out of 5 praising its characters and visuals. In X-Play's "Best Of 2008" it was nominated for best role-playing game.
According to Famitsu's annual top 100, Vesperia was the 82nd best selling title in Japan in 2008 having sold 161,070 copies. The launch of Tales of Vesperia in Japan caused the Xbox 360 to sell out for the first time since the system's release in Japan. With 204,305 copies sold, it is currently the second best-selling Xbox 360 game ever in Japan, behind Star Ocean: The Last Hope. In North America, Tales of Vesperia sold 33,000 copies during the 4 days after its 26 August launch.
Tales of Vesperia for the PlayStation 3 sold 147,000 copies on its opening day, which is more than double that of the Xbox 360's version, which sold 71,000 copies on its opening day and a total of 140,000 in two weeks. Tales of Vesperia for the PlayStation 3 sold a total of 352,961 copies in by the end of 2009 making it the 24th best selling game in Japan of 2009.
Namco Bandai reported on their tax reports that Tales of Vesperia PS3 has sold just 450,000 copies in Japan since its launch in 2009 until the launch of Tales of Xillia.
In Autumn 2009, an anime film titled Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike was released, roughly coinciding with the release of the PS3 version of the game. The anime is prequel to the game showing Yuri Lowell's time as an Imperial Knight. It was released as a Blu-ray/DVD bundle in Japan with downloadable content for the PS3 version on May 28, 2010. The game was also released in Japan on Universal Media Disc. An English localization of the anime was released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2012.
Speaking in 2009 after the theatrical release of The First Strike, Makoto Yoshizumi, the publishing general manager for Namco Bandai, said that there was a possibility of sequels to both Tales of Vesperia and The First Strike, but as yet nothing has materialized.
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