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Tales of the Abyss 3DS

For: 3DS
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Tale-or made for your 3DS

Product: Tales of the Abyss 3DS | Developer: Namco Tales Studio | Publisher: Namco Bandai Games | Format: 3DS | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Tales of the Abyss 3DS 3DS, thumbnail 1
The Tales RPG series is seriously huge in Japan, with over a dozen releases and sales in the millions.

You'd be forgiven for having not heard of a single title in the series, however, as here in Europe we rarely see them released - and even when we do, it's usually a good year after the original Japanese release.

Tales of the Abyss was the eighth in the Tales franchise, and saw a Japanese release in 2005 on PlayStation 2. It was released in the US a year later. But once again Europe lost out.

In what is a rather odd move, then, this new 3DS port is hitting European shores long before it gets a US release. We should be thankful, too, as it's a fantastic title, and its portability makes it even more pleasing.

A tall (and very long) tale

You control Luke Fon Fabre, the son of a wealthy duke. Luke has never left the family mansion, and has no idea what's going on in the outside world.

One day things get a little odd, and he's plucked from his home, waking up halfway around the world. With a new band of friends, he embarks on a return journey, with many twists and turns along the way.

This is a 3DS port of a past PlayStation 2 release. That may sound like a turn-off, but in fact it turns out that this port is even better than the original.

All the crisp visuals are there, now in stereoscopic 3D, and it looks really great. There are dozens of hours of brilliant voice-acting, with a charming story that hits all the right notes.

The loading times, which plagued the original and made random encounters unbearable, have now been cut down and are barely noticeable any more.

The best bit, however, is that this epic is now available on the go. For a lot of people, sitting in front of your TV for hours on end to play an RPG like this isn't possible. With this 3DS version, you can now play anywhere, shutting the 3DS when you're busy and opening it up again when you're not.

For this reason alone, Tales of the Abyss 3DS will appeal to more people than the original. It really helps that the game manages to find the line between hardcore RPG and more casual experience, too, so it can appeal to a wide range of players.

Stare into the Abyss

The gameplay itself is enjoyable, from the open-world exploration to the arena-style combat.

Anyone who has played a Tales game will feel right at home, as you take on enemies using a combination of melee attacks and special powers. Combining these provides really deep gameplay, and it's always on your mind that you want to step up your latest efforts and achieve even higher hit combos than before.

While you fight, you also have the rest of your team to back you up, each controlled by the AI. You can switch characters on the fly if you wish, and make use of specific powers to turn the tide of battle.

For RPG lovers, there are plenty of stats, items, and upgrades to choose from. However, it's not really essential to delve into these, and so more casual players will also get a kick out of how powerful it all makes you feel.

The world itself is expansive, if a little plain. When you leave a town, you're taken to the overmap, where you can walk around, tackle sidequests, and come across random encounters with enemies.

Sometimes Abyssmal

Certain elements of Tales of the Abyss 3DS bring it down a notch or two.

There are plenty of sidequests here and there, but in general the game feels very linear. Even when you are asked to do extra things, they're usually very simple and don't add anything at all to the overall story - we eventually just stopped doing them, as they weren't very exciting.

As well as being linear, the game can also be quite pushy at times, preventing you from exploring certain areas until you've talked to someone, for example.

And when the game does give you freedom, it isn't very good at explaining what to do with it. On several occasions we found ourselves wandering around the overmap, not really sure where to go next, as there's no way to see your current main quest.

Our final gripe is with the new 3DS features. The touchscreen is barely used at all - for most of the game, it simply shows a static image. The most it is used for is to access the menu, and even that then appears on the top screen and requires you press the 3DS buttons.

Also, while the stereoscopic 3D can look great at times, there's also a fair amount of image ghosting - so much so that we eventually turned it off completely.

Nonetheless, Tales of the Abyss 3DS is a brilliant game, and well worthy of a place in your 3DS game collection, especially if you're into your RPGs.

Hopefully we'll see more of the series landing on 3DS in the future.
Tales of the Abyss 3DS
Reviewer photo
Mike Rose | 25 November 2011
Tales of the Abyss 3DS takes the original release and betters it, with great RPG action on-the-go
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