Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Wii Review

As a game, Tales of Symphonia was pretty much like any other Tales game, but clearly the story, the world and the characters are some of the most beloved by its fans, resulting in Namco Bandai revisiting those aspects with the unashamed fan service that is Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.

The game is set two years after the Journey of World Regeneration, the outcome of which resulted in two separate worlds merging together. The act didn’t result in the expected peace, however, and Sylvarent and Tethe’alla are still at each other’s throats and to top it all off: the protagonist, Lloyd from the original game, has seemingly turned to the dark side. Is this all one giant misunderstanding? Or has he really strayed from the path of goodness? It’s an intriguing plot point and the narrative as a whole manages to stay reasonably engaging throughout.

Lloyd’s apparent change of heart has resulted in his lead character role being stolen by Emil, an initially intensely dislikeable character and not only because he replaces a memorable hero. At least to begin with, Emil is over apologetic and weak, both to an overbearing extent, but he soon gets another side, of which he flits between throughout the game. It’s this schizophrenic nature that makes what once seemed to be one of the most irritating RPG leads in history, into one of the most intriguing in recent memory, resulting in an underrated hero that it turns out isn’t the worst substitute for good old Lloyd after all.

The rest of the newbie characters are equally likeable and well developed: Marta has an amusing imaginary romantic relationship with Emil, and Tenenbrae has a wicked sense of humour that never fails to raise a smile. The remaining hero and heroine roles are filled by returning characters, which, considering that the original game featured one of the finest cast of characters in RPG history, is very good news indeed. Though the fact that many of the original characters have different voice actors will be disappointing for some, even though their replacements generally do a respectable job.

Further character development comes through watching the skits: often amusing exchanges between your party, covering an array of topics and this time around they’re fully voiced. They’re entirely optional, but enrich the personalities of your crew, making them very much worthy of your time.

As previously mentioned, the universe in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is the same as the original game. Unsurprisingly many of the areas have been retained, which for some could be considered as lazy, but for the fans that it’s targeted at, a high dose of nostalgia will be more than welcome.

The story and characterization are excellent, but from an interactive standpoint it’s a bit less successful. The biggest new feature is the monster capture system, which allows you to catch up to 200 creatures, of which level up in the usual fashion, but you can also evolve them by feeding them and grant them magical spells by using particular items. To begin with, capturing them can be tricky, but as you make progression through the game, you’ll learn valuable skills, which can make it a much easier process.

It’s somewhat of a wasted feature, however, as much of the time you have at least one human companion tagging along, of which are much more interesting than the monsters, and have the advantage of being familiar faces from the previous game.

Another new feature is the quests – optional tasks consisting of fetch and hunting quests, amongst others. They’re not very interesting really, but, should you decide to tackle them, they do have the advantage of occasionally rewarding you with some rare items, of which are often ingredients for the games’ serviceable and useful, though undernourished synthesis system.

The combat is the usual real time Tales affair, so it’s not the cleverest or most strategic battle system in the genre, but offers enjoyment on a simplistic level. You’re only in direct control of a single character; with the other three being took charge of by adequate AI. Artes can, as always, be stringed together with regular attacks, giving the option for further involvement than just bashing the A button as if you hate it (if you really do, you’re strange), but it remains as one of the weaker areas for the series.

Outside of combat, there is lots of exploration through intelligently designed dungeon environments, of which have some puzzle solving that sometimes requires at least a modicum of brainpower. Less positive is the loss of a true world map, with movement from place to place instead being restricted to simple menu selection and, in the process, losing much of the romance of a vast journey.

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of The New World’s new additions are rarely successful, but the usual winning Tales formula is still here. This sequel also has the advantage of granting pleasant feelings of nostalgia for fans of the original Symphonia, of which, for many, will be more than enough to leave them satisfied with Namco Bandai’s offering.