|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Tales Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: September 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
Apr. 4, 2008 - The RPG genre was conspicuously lacking from the GameCube's lineup of titles, and many of the games we 'Cube owners did get were sadly overlooked. Such games as Tales of Symphonia and Skies of Arcadia Legends were excellent RPGs, but such titles weren't incredibly popular with anybody "out of the loop," so to speak. But now Namco Bandai brings Wii owners a follow-up to the excellent game Tales of Symphonia. Tales of Symphonia was loved for a number of reasons: its emotional story, believable characters, beautiful graphics, and innovative battle system. The Wii sequel, subtitled Dawn of the New World, essentially will take everything that was great about the original and enhance it in such a way that could only be done on the Wii.
Dawn of the New World picks up a few years after the events of the original game and chronicles the aftermath of Lloyd Irving's exploits in the first Tales of Symphonia. For those of you who may not remember -- or just never knew -- Lloyd was responsible for uniting two worlds at odds with each other. By the end of the GameCube title, Lloyd has succeeded in his quest, and the players are expected to believe that this story is over. But that's not the case; the titular new world is a mess, and several mysteries abound. In typical RPG fashion, you're left to discover exactly what's going on and rectify the evils that are corrupting the world. Expect several plot twists and an overall engaging storyline.
Tales of Symphonia was also noted for its large cast of characters and the distinct personality of each of them. Dawn of the New World promises to be no different: the game features several playable characters and a veritable horde of NPCs. The writing and character development is excellent: everybody has something to hide, and even the "good guys" are multi-dimensional. There are countless new characters, but several familiar faces will also make appearances in Dawn of the New World. Conflicts emerge between characters and present a story that's entirely more believable and immersive than your standard, run-of-the-mill RPG.
Of course, a good plot is absolutely nothing without a strong gameplay mechanic, and Dawn of the New World is sure to deliver in that respect. Sadly, details are still rather lacking regarding how the Wii Remote will be integrated into the game -- motion control will certainly be a part it, though -- but developers have mentioned that the battle mechanic will be much improved from the already-great system employed by the first Tales of Symphonia. While the player navigates the overworld in fairly typical fashion, the battles themselves take place on a different battle in real time. You can direct your party members (up to four at any one time) and have them do exactly what you want. Additionally, if you've got some friends up to it, you can have each character controlled by a different player -- some pretty awesome co-op battles are sure to ensue.
Stringing together powerful combos is a really fun and satisfying aspect of this game, and will be critical to your success later in the adventure. An exciting addition to Dawn of the New World that Tales of Symphonia vets will appreciate is the inclusion of an aerial combo system, allowing your characters to be all the more versatile. But in addition to overpowering your foes with swords and magic, you're going to have to be smart about your team building. There's a classic level-up system in Dawn of the New World, but you'll have to be choosy about who you decide to use. Of course, it's possible to simply level-grind using every single character, but you'll have far more fun if you select four units and stick with them until a unit you like better comes along. Additionally, Dawn of the New World allows you to recruit monsters that you defeat in battle to use them in your party, which adds even more customization to the game.
One of the most promising aspects of Dawn of the New World is the outstanding visuals. The Wii is not a particularly powerful console, especially compared to its competitors, but Dawn of the New World really pushes the graphical limits of the system. In-game graphics are beautiful and run at a nice, steady clip. The title will also feature numerous story-telling cutscenes, which look absolutely fantastic. There's a strong anime influence that's pervasive throughout the title -- don't expect the realistic graphics that have become standard on the 360 and PS3. But at the same time, don't discount the game's visuals because of their "cartoony" look, because beneath it all is an incredibly deep, immersive, and sure-to-please game.
The Wii is still waiting for a blockbuster RPG, and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is certainly shaping up to be just that. If you loved the original, then it goes without saying that you need to pick up this game when it releases later in 2008. And if you've not yet been captivated by the magic that is Tales of Symphonia, then Dawn of the New World is a great motivation for you to go and catch up by playing the GameCube title. Regardless, Dawn of the New World is looking fantastic and promises to be one of the Wii's best titles.
CCC Freelance Writer