Tales of Legendia

a game by Namco Ltd.
Platform: Playstation 2
Rating: 7/10

RPG's are a genre fraught with conventions that are, more often than not, a hindrance for the everyday gamer. The bad ones let convention become the guiding force in the game, forcing gamers to play a game they've played a thousand times before. The good ones, however, know how to take those age old conventions and use them to their advantage, creating an experience that while not wholly original, is at least wholly enjoyable.

Take Tales of Legendia, for example. It's a RPG that stands by many RPG conventions, but it also uses those conventions for the better. The story is clichéd, but because the characters are so interesting, diverse, and colorful, it's a forgivable facet. In fact, watching the characters' progressions become one of the many reasons to really push through the game, which is pretty remarkable given that the characters themselves are somewhat clichéd in their archetypes.

The visuals and audio do a superb job of giving the game that additional support. The visuals rely more on artistic refinery rather than raw processing power, which makes for a much more enjoyable experience, and the audio, likewise, features a beautiful soundtrack that really complements the whimsical nature of the game. The voice-acting, too, is pretty good, which is something you rarely find in RPGs today.

A few problems do sneak its way into the game, however. The battle system, like the other Tales games, is in real time on a 2D plane, and while it's worked in the other games well enough, it's really just tolerable in Tales of Legendia. The problem is that as you progress in the game, things can become incredibly chaotic. With every character using their flashy special abilities on enemies while yelling their battle cries, it can quickly become a confusing state of affairs. It's not a completely debilitating problem, but it can become an annoyance.

Even so, if you enjoy traditional RPGs, Tales of Legendia more than deserves a look. It has all the right ingredients to make for an enjoyable 30+ hour adventure, and if you're willing to overlook a few of its flaws, it's one of the better RPG experiences you can have on your PS2.

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