Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mash harder

Tales of Graces f continues to gleefully trot out JRPG tropes like they are going out of style. The annoying eleven year old has become an 18 year old with self confidence problems. There is a girl that he thinks is just a friend that loves him, another girl who might as well be a reskinned Rikku (same voice actor, I think), the girls who doesn't age and has no memory and the older male character who tries to keep everyone in line. Add to that demonic possession, political upheaval, family squabbles and a lot of back tracking and the game is a greatest hits collection of all the things modern RPGs have left behind.

And that is exactly why is it so much fun.

This may be my age showing, but Tales of Graces f puts me in the same state of mind that the good Final Fantasy's did. There is an over arching story that I am just a part of and my job as the player is to make sure the characters I control are leveled sufficiently to get where they need to go. No moral choices; almost no choices at all beyond what skills to improve upon next. All of the freedom present in the modern RPG brings with it a great deal of stress. When actions have consequences they require more thought. In Tales of Graces f the story is going to play itself out regardless of what I do. It even has the courtesy to put itself on hold if I need to go grind a few levels here and there. For the most part it is a very relaxing experience.

I say for the most part because it does like to throw nasty bosses at you once in a while. Item hoarding is a problem I have to battle all too often, especially now that inventory limits are the norm. There is no inventory limit in this game, but I still hold on to every potion waiting for the moment where I need to use it or die. Last night just that moment came and I had to run through far more of my inventory than I was comfortable with. The combat system really wants me to find out an enemies weaknesses and hit them all in order, over and over. Each special attack is bound to a direction on the left stick and each one has different properties. There is a lot of strategy here but I always end up wading through combat the same way I played Marvel: choose the heaviest hit I have (Hulk standing S) and hit it over and over.

The results are depressingly similar, but at least in this game I can bring dead characters back and no one is on the other end of things gloating.

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