Tales of Eternia update.

Whenever I have some spare time I have been playing Tales of Eternia on my PSP. A small review seems to have appeared in my head, structured as this :

GamePlay in general
The story, while very corny and often just plain strange, is actually quite good, with some twists and surprises, and I keep having this feeling that there is more going on behind the scenes, something I usually don’t have nowadays, being old and wise and having seen it all ofcourse… At the start everything is very goody doody, nobody dies. There is even this mystery cook that hides in different forms of furniture and teaches you different recipes. These recipes can then be used to regain health or cure yourself, provided you have the right ingredients.

But play on, and a bit further on in the game you come back to a village where all the people are lying dead in the streets, and you realise that there is a (smallish) bite to this story. There is even a small mini-game that will psych-profile you – you respond to a loooong list of questions and it will tell you to which Craymel (god-like beings that your party must collect to save the world) you relate the most to.

Battle System
The battle system can be annoying when you just want to explore, as it keeps on generating random encounters, mostly starting them when you don’t want to. After a while though, you just wack through them.
Sometimes these battles can be a bit hard, but with some adjusting of your characters and their equipment you can go a long way. For example, from time to time when you win a battle you collect amulets with different properties (healing, or 10% extra strength, or 10% protection from damage). Sometimes they only protect against ice or fire or earth, and you have to equip them when you are facing the enemy that is vulnerable against them.

So there is actually a small amount of tactics involved, selecting different weapons/amulets/skills against different enemies.

But it is BORING in the extreme fighting the same beasts and animals time and time again.

Graphics
No 3D except for some mini games and the map. Most of the story happens in towns in 2D, but o boy, I really like the 2D drawings here (and luckely, most of the games plays there).
The whole scene looks like it came out of a story book picture, and to my eye seems anti-aliased, at least enough to get a very smooth look. Animations are provided for most things, and you can really notice the attention to detail that pervades the whole game. Fires flicker and burn, mirrors reflect, water moves, lights twinkle…
The 3D parts come to play when you wander around the map between the different towns. This is in a Crappy3D(tm) format that really detracts from wandering around, you get the feeling that this was bolted on somehow. Some mini-games also come in 3D, like controlling a speeding train, and are executed much better.

System Integration
Saving and loading goes very quickly. One niggle. If you are fast enough and just tap the buttons without looking, it can happen that you mispress and instead of saving, you actually delete a save game. It happened to me several times before I caught on, so now I take my time saving, and I random save between 5 different positions (I always saved the most recent at the top, but that was also the one I deleted the most !).

Turning off your psp stores the game, and it restores actually pretty quickly. However, when you get the graphics, best to wait a few seconds for the umd to start whirring, no gaps then.

Overall Score : 8/10
This is a great game for the PSP, giving you lots of hours to play, it can be put aside and picked up again as needed. Recommended for the casual RPG gamer (RPG as defined by consoles !). I’m giving it only an 8 as I’m sure that there will be better games in the future…