REVIEW: Tales of Graces f

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

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Title: Tales of Graces f
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Namco Tales Studio
Console: Playstation 3
Release Date: March 13th, 2012 (NA), August 31st, 2012 (EU)

Tales of Graces f art. Click for the full image.


It’s been a long time coming for Tales of Graces f. Originally released on the Wii in 2009 in Japan as Tales of Graces, the first version of the game never made it to our shores. Instead, Namco Bandai decided to remake the game in ‘high definition’ for the PS3, and only release the newest version in the west.  Upon the game’s arrival in North America, it was routinely ignored, and some reviewers didn’t even play all the way through the game.  That’s why I was happy to get a chance to review Tales of Graces f for the European release.

North American box art

First off, I have to say that there isn’t a doubt in my mind that this is the definitive version of Tales of Graces.  For those fans who are concerned about the absence of the Wii version, I must say that it was worth waiting for this re-release.   Not only does the main quest span anywhere from 40-50 hours, but you’ll easily spend countless extra hours completing all the side content. While not quite the mammoth that Xenoblade Chronicles is, Tales of Graces still offers the player a lot of different things to do beside the main quest. And once you ‘beat’ the game, you get to play an epilogue that is entirely new content.

One thing that can be said with certainty is that Tales of Graces f keeps feeding you new things to do until the very end. Even in the epilogue itself, Asbel (the main character) learns a new ability called ‘Accel Mode.’ That’s right, its a new ability that opens up a whole new tactic for the battle system, and it happens after you beat the last boss. I won’t describe what this ability is because it will spoil the story, but just know that it adds a new element to the battles and is one of the many reasons to keep playing this game until the very end.

Speaking of the battle system in Graces, what a triumph it is. The game starts out very simply, to give you an easy handle on the way the system controls. Instead of only being able to move two directions like in older Tales games, the newer system allows full movement, but you don’t actually have complete freedom.  You could liken it to a fighting game, like Soul Calibur and Tekken, but with multiple characters and enemies on-screen. Your character still moves in a line, but you can sidestep as well as go backwards and forwards. The only weakness I have found with this system is when you get caught next to the boundary line, you can easily get stuck being pummeled by several enemies at once. Even with this minor annoyance, though, there are still ways to get around it.

Full of flash! and bang!


The system actually requires a certain amount of twitch reaction. If you want to be able to attack, block, and evade properly, you have to be very quick and have good timing. This is one of the handful of reasons why I love this battle system.  It is literally chock full of different skills, abilities, and movements. There are actually different play styles for different characters, but I mainly stuck with Asbel because he is a very well-rounded fighter.

The title system is another head on the beast that is this game’s robust battle design. There are literally hundreds of titles to get, and new ones open up during certain story sequences and areas in the game. Each title has a range of different skills to learn, and learning and mastering as many titles is equally as important as gaining experience.

You will see these popping up often.


The one other thing worth mentioning is the ability to change the difficulty of the game at any point in time. This is seriously one of the coolest features that an RPG can have.  I played through the game on the Moderate setting, which is one above Normal.  This met my exact craving for a challenging battle, while still being fun without getting too difficult.  If you find it a bit too much, you can always adjust it down to what you are comfortable with, which is the beauty of this option.   After playing Tales of Graces f, I feel that having an adjustable difficulty should be mandatory in every JRPG in the future.


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About Clinton Nix

Former Volunteer- Clinton started following the movement back when it was still being hosted on the IGN message boards and with the Amazon push of Monado. He’s also an audio engineer, studying in Seattle and waiting for his big break into the world of audio (but not to the detriment of video game writing, of course).

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  • eh, I thought you guys should have been a bit more critical on it. It just doesn’t compare to the last game, Tales of Vesperia or other RPGs that have come out this year. I also found the story to be not all that great with rather dull and predictable characters who at the beginning and to the middle point of the game are not investment worthy and or unlikeable. The graphics while colorful and pretty are really not that good. the animations are stiff, the characters can come off blocky at times, and the lip syncing is terrible. You can easily tell this was just an HD formatted Wii game made for the PS3 I agree on the sound side though. I have a review of this game coming along for my blog and I just thought ti was a bit of a disappointment compared to the last game in the series, but a solid RPG overall.

    • I stated my personal reasons why I gave this game that particular score.  Honestly, if you want to see someone criticize it, go read just about every major publication.  I figured that I’d focus on things that made this game shine.  You are correct in saying that the storyline is a bit on the predictable side, although the game did surprise me at the end.  

      However, I don’t know the last time I played a JRPG mainly for the story.  The Storyline is predictable in EVERY JRPG, at least in my opinion.
      Basically, this game has an incredibly deep battle system, and with the difficulty setting, extra options and hilarious skits, even though the main story isn’t quite as intriguing as it should be, all those other things make up for it.
      About graphics:  Yes, you can tell it’s an upgrade, but the game is very crisp and the character models look good.  
      Newsflash:  Almost every JRPG I’ve played recently has poor lipsynching and stiff movements from the character models.  I don’t see why Tales of Graces f has to be punished for it particularly.  Have you played Xenoblade Chronicles?  Those characters’ mouths flap around with a mind of their own.  
      I stand by what I wrote.  Tales of Graces f is a very enjoyable game, and I’d say that it has moments that shine as brightly as some of the greatest RPGs of this generation.

    •  Well, I do play JRPGs mainly for the story. However, I have a soft spot for stories of the Tales Of Franchise because they’re very light-hearted, but still have an edge.
      I don’t expect the story of this game to reach the epicness of Xenoblade or the personal depth of Tales of the Abyss, but I do expect this game to be a fine tale about friendship, adventure, laughs and epic combat =D.
      That doesn’t mean that I like all JRPG plots – Tales plots just manage to grab my attention (plus, the gameplay is AMAZING). The only Tales game I’ve played that just didn’t charmed me was Tales of Innocence. Not only was I agitated by the instant respawns on dungeons and the fact that I can’t switch targets, but also the story (reincarnations are serious business) couldn’t affect me at a deep level while games such as Symphonia and Abyss gave me a feeling that I went on a journey with a group of people I can relate to or understand.
      Hell, even Dawn of the New World managed to grab my attention with Emil being a positive version of Shinji Ikari (bring it on, you die-hard fans!).

    •  I’m not saying you are wrong, and in the end it is a solid RPG ( i also enjoyed it in the end), but i wouldn’t say its one of the top 5 best of this generation of consoles. Xenoblade, Last Story, Vesperia, and Lost Odyssey are much much better than this one. I am just saying it is disappointing compared to other Tales games. Outside of that, it is a good game one of the better ones this year. However, a RPG is basically 50% about the gameplay and 50% about story and in this game’s case, it was more like 75% about gameplay and the other percent is of story. I mean, who really thought the father at the beginning was actually “stern”?  He was more on the line of irrational and abusive.

      I agree, it does have its moments, but again, as a Tales game, it falls a bit flat.

    • I can see where you are coming from with that.  But personally I play games for the entire experience, and story doesn’t account for 50% of my RPG experience.  I’d say it would be more like this:

      Battle System/gameplay elements: 35%
      Character development/interaction: 20%
      World Design & Graphics: 25%
      Story: 20%
      This is just a rough percentage, but all of these parts come together to make an immersive experience.  For an explanation of world design and graphics:  I’m not saying that graphics are really important, but rather the design of the world itself, which includes graphics.  Are there characters around?  Do they have a story?  How are the games towns constructed?  Are they alive?  That sort of thing.  I think this kind of design has a huge impact on a game’s immersion.Also notice character development is outside of story.  Because frankly, to be involved in the story, you have to connect to the characters.  And in that sense, Tales of Graces f makes up for the story with strong character development.

    •  hmm…I agree on the percentage thing and what you are saying and again this isnt on my top 10 worst games or anything like that (not even close), but here is another example of an RPG that does well with one thing (too well imo) and falls flat on the other.

      Witcher 2 has probably one of the most mature story lines out of any game this gen in the RPG departmant and while its combat is strategic, its rather clunky and it falls in the category of they pushed too much on the story aspect and immersion factor while combat is clunky.

      but i will say for me, the characters took a bit to fully like until i was about 20-30 hours in. (hubert was the main culprit here, he is a punk for awhile).

      I also agree graphics aren’t everything, but with how amazing a cel shaded anime style game can look on the PS3, it is a bummer when at some points you can see some of the blocky Wii textures.

    • Good points.  It’s all a personal experience anyway.  Some will like it, some won’t, but I’m sure most people can agree that it isn’t a bad game.

    • Honestly, I loved Vesperia and Symphonia, the other two Tales games I’ve beaten. I’ve played a few hours of Abyss.

      But Graces was a better game. I thought the combat is a high water mark for the series with a stunning amount of depth. Not only was it deep, but it constantly evolved. The only other games I can think of where I had that much fun fighting were actual fighting games.On graphics, the good thing about cell shading is how easily the upconversion can come out looking okay. Is it as pretty as Vesperia? No, but when everything else in the game is that good, it’s not a deal breaker.

  • While Vesperia is still my favorite Tales game so far, I’m still really liking Graces f. I need to finish it, at some point. >.>

  • Stalchild

    This series is, as a whole, mediocre. Vesperia had something going for it. Symphonia is decent. Xillia could be good. But after playing Abyss for the first time this year and putting in 60+ hours into it, I must say I have an incredibly stale taste in my mouth and could care less about playing anything else in this series. That game had some cool ideas, but was bogged down by it’s flaws. It was like a flat soda. Maybe the soda is a good soda, but if it’s flat, why drink it at all? Go to the fridge at get something fresh and tasty.