|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 13, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Little has changed, though some things have been streamlined and others have been discarded altogether. If you played the last game, you know that Lloyd set out to rid the world of Ex-spheres, so they dont play a role in this game. Additionally, theres no more S or T-type Artes (Techs), and though there is still a great selection of moves and spells to learn, its an element of ToS were sad to see go. That said, other changes are a bit more welcome. The new overworld map and method of travel help to cut down on much of the tedium from the first game, and motion control has been relegated to a few, simple mini-games (as well as use of the Sorcerers Ring) that are mostly entertaining.
Monster collecting has also been implemented quite well, and its an element that plays an integral role in the story and, without a doubt, adds tons of replay value to the overall package. Remember the Katz? Well, this time around theyve been put to especially good use as purveyors of quests and monster handling. If you, for whatever reason, simply cant get enough from the main quest, the Katz have a list of things for you to do, all ranging in skill level. Additionally, Katz will hang on to any monsters (a lot like the computer in Pokémon games) you arent currently interested in having tag along with you, and you can swap monsters in and out by visiting any Katz vendor located in various towns and dungeons.
Most importantly, however, Katz allow you to feed your monsters, and by feeding them foods they like, they will gain points for various attributes. Monsters can also evolve, and theres just no denying that, though not a new formula, the monster collecting and caretaking are addictive gameplay elements that will extend the experience beyond countable hours.
However, if you were expecting an amazing, new story, well, New World comes up a bit short. Lloyd is the main antagonist from the start, and its a premise thats sure to drive Symphonia veterans on. But ultimately, this sequel is mostly an exercise in fan service. The dialogue is on par with the first game, but fans who enjoyed that game are older now and will likely find its prose havent aged along with them. The story is fairly derivative, and though there are multiple endings, most players should sense whats coming next at almost every turn. No matter, fans will still likely be entertained by the way in which certain side ventures from the last game have been worked in as main elements of New Worlds story.
The games production, too, is a rehash, and youll be hard-pressed to see changes in any of the backgrounds brought back from the first game. Character models are okay by PS2 standards, but even the Wii can push more detail than whats offered here. Characters move stiffly when wandering about towns or during cutscenes, and when in battle, youll see many of the same animations over and over. Thankfully, load times are fairly short, and slowdown is rare. However, it just doesnt feel like much effort went into giving fans something new to appreciate in terms of Symphonias look. Perhaps it was fear that ToS vets would reject anything that was too much of a departure from the first game, or maybe the budget just wasnt there. Either way, though the graphics arent ever ugly, theyre simply last-gen in every way.
The games audio is also much the same as the first ToS, and it hasnt aged all that well, either. Just about every theme you remember from towns and dungeons from the first Symphonia have been brought over to New World. Its our understanding that the music has been remixed, but in most cases its nothing discernable. Sound effects are outdated and often make a very poor match for the actions theyre associated with. However, the voice work remains entertaining, and theres tons of it. This time around, all of the games skits are voiced, and it definitely makes a marked change for the better.
There is so much more we could say about Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World both good and not so good but in the end, its one for the fans. Its a love letter to those who found magic in the first game. And for those folks still smitten, New World is sure to touch your heart. Newcomers, however, will likely wonder at the games average production values and childish dialogue. Still, its difficult to find too much fault in the game, as its built upon one rock-solid foundation. Theres a lot to do and many dear places to revisit, even if it feels a bit like a Tales of Symphonia Light.
CCC Freelance Writer