Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (Wii) Review

By Joshua Callum Jeffery 01.02.2010 8

Review for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World on Wii

Namco Bandai are an odd bunch when it comes to their much loved Tales series. One moment they're localising everything that comes out of it, and the next minute they'll deprive us of three games in a row. It's a wonder that Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, sequel to the much loved GameCube RPG, was finally given an incredibly quiet PAL release in the middle of November. Followers of the game's release will probably be aware that it doesn't live up to expectations of the series as it falls short on many fronts, but here is the lowdown for those still wondering whether or not to buy...

While Namco were concentrating on the 360's Tales of Vesperia, they developed something to keep Nintendo fans happy. What better way than a sequel to one of the only original RPGs on the Gamecube? Unfortunately, it's more of an appetiser than a full blown meal. Those expecting a fully fledged 3D Tales game are going to have to wait for a possible localisation of Graces.

However, Dawn of the New World isn't a bad game. It begins like most Tales games: our weedy protagonist, Emil Castagnier, is forced out of his relatively peaceful life via some horrible events, apparently caused by the widely loved lead of the first game, Lloyd Irving. This sounds as ridiculous to the NPCs as it does to the player, so 'naturally' Emil is ostracised. Fortunately for him a girl around his age, Marta Lualdi, is certain that Emil saved her life not long ago, becoming smitten with him. A few complications later and he's fighting to protect her after being granted powers and an insane case of schizophrenia from the Lord of Monsters, Ratatosk. Now that they have no home to return to, Emil, Marta, and a servant of Ratatosk called Tenebrae take it upon themselves to find out why Lloyd is doing nasty things.

Screenshot for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World on Wii

Overworld play is simple enough, but there's no world map this time around. Instead you use a spinnable Weather Channel-style globe to select your destination, taking you there with the push of a button. Nearly all the towns will be recognisable from the original Tales of Symphonia, with old and new dungeons alike. The Sorcerer's Ring also returns, but this time it's controlled by holding down the B Button and using the Wii Remote's pointer to aim where you'll fire it. This makes for some interesting new dungeon puzzles...and some very annoying puzzles, too.

Visually the style is generic and makes no attempt to look amazing; it would honestly feel right at home on the GameCube. However, the animation is far smoother than previous 3D entries in the Tales series, leaving for slightly more cinematic cut-scenes. There happen to be awful lot of those. Music is definitely a strong point in this game, taking on an orchestrated slant as opposed to the MIDI music of the original, which sounds very dated in comparison. It should be noted though that Dawn of the New World doesn't actually have many new tracks, and the grand majority of musical content is just remade from Symphonia. They sound great, but you will find that every familiar location you visit will have extremely familiar music. Despite the musical quality however, the voice acting is weak and can be a chore to listen to at times. There is some strong VA here and there, such as with Regal, Tenebrae, and Emil's Ratatosk 'alter-ego', but generally players will find themselves getting annoyed at 'regular' Emil's unrealistically whimpering voice, and Marta's insincere squealing. Lloyd's new voice actor also perfectly suits the part of a guy you shouldn't trust, making it even harder for Symphonia fans to continue liking him. The option to turn voice right down and play with only subtitles is there, but unfortunately a Japanese audio option is not.

Screenshot for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World on Wii

Speaking of ol' Lloyd, along the way you'll meet the entire playable cast of the original, with most joining your party at some point. Annoyingly, though, they are completely non-customisable, which means you can't level them up, change their titles, or even learn any new Artes, the special abilities and magic you use in battle. The only characters you can fully customise are Emil and Marta. You can change their titles, which slightly alter their stats, Artes, and of course you can change their equipment. You can even slightly alter their appearances by giving them silly masks and hats (though there are no full costume changes this time), and they'll level up all the way to 99, if you want them to, which is almost double the level the other characters can ever reach.

A great Tales feature which did not appear in the original is the use of Skills. While the Skill system in Dawn of the New World is quite limited compared to that of other recent Tales games, it's still very helpful to be able to add longer combos and Mystic Artes, as well as various attack resistances. This gives the initially slow and disjointed battles a much nicer flow. Battles are played on a 3D plain, and pressing different directions on the analogue stick while tapping A will allow you to create different basic combos. It won't take long to discover which suits you best. As you get more Skills, such as ones to make your attacks quicker or your combos longer, you may well change your favourite combos slightly. You also have B, which you set Artes to. Holding a different direction and pressing B uses different Artes, and you can also handily set shortcuts to each D-pad direction and even a few simple Wii Remote/Nunchuk gestures. Therefore it's possible to set 16 Artes for each player, which you can combo with too. The gestures aren't too reliable, though, so whether you choose to use them or not is up to you. The main thing that sets this battle system apart from Symphonia's is the Free Run, holding Z and using the analogue stick to run freely around the battle plain. This is absolutely necessary to avoid the attacks of many enemies, as the battles generally are harder and require much more strategy than Symphonia's. Playing battles in cooperative multiplayer is also a great way to make some of the more frustrating battles more bearable.

Screenshot for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World on Wii

This lastly brings me onto the subject of monsters, and a nifty game mechanic to help you through the parts in the game where Emil and Marta are going it alone. You can enlist them to help you out with a little effort. The monsters are AI-controlled only, but they'll evolve and learn insanely powerful attacks depending on what food you make them. Catching them can be a pain, as you need to make sure the HUD in the bottom left corner of the battle screen shows four or more matching elements before you can even attempt to make a pact with them - and you don't have access to many elemental attacks until later on. Still, if your party members aren't up to the job, you can always do a bit of monster hunting to get some stronger beast allies to fight alongside you.

Screenshot for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Those expecting an experience like other 3D Tales games, such as Symphonia, are going to be disappointed. Dawn of the New World simply takes what Tales of Symphonia had and waters it down for the most part, meaning it shouldn't be recommended over the GameCube title for those new to the series. However, the deeper battle system and fan-service filled story makes it a worthy purchase for fans of the original.

Developer

Namco Tales

Publisher

Namco Bandai

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (319 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Very awesome review Smilie
Might buy this as it's pretty cheap on amazon and I swear I've seen it down game a few times too.

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The conclusion says it all...

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Wish Marta did't say Emil so much but as a fan of the first and RPG. wish they didt take out the over world T_T

( Edited 01.02.2010 23:54 by Jump_button )

darkflame (guest) 02.02.2010#4

Well this raised from game "dont get it" to "get if cheap" for me.
I loved the first, but no overworld put me off this one. I like exploring!
On the other hand, I am pleased to see this does have some puzzleing...something I was worried was not really in this one.

It's a very good game...but better if considered in its own right, since compared to the original ToS it's very disappointing. I definitely agree with the 7/10 score and the majority of what you said, Josh - very good debut review for Cubed3! Smilie

I've played a small bit of the Japanese version of Tales of Graces and it's top-notch! Shame it's sold less than ToS: DotNW in Japan so far Smilie Here's hoping it still gets a Western release, though.

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jesusraz said:
It's a very good game...but better if considered in its own right, since compared to the original ToS it's very disappointing.

Yep, it's definitely a quality RPG if you can look past the VA, it just pales a little compared with other 3D Tales games.

I definitely agree with the 7/10 score and the majority of what you said, Josh - very good debut review for Cubed3! Smilie

Thanks! Hopefully it's just the beginning.

Darkflame: Getting it cheap might not be a problem! It launched at around £20 and seems to be staying around that price.
However it's going to get rare before long seeing as hardly any copies were made.

( Edited 02.02.2010 18:20 by Toon SuperLink )

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considering...

What about the humour? I found the first game quite funny in places.

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Darkflame said:
What about the humour? I found the first game quite funny in places.

Some of the humour (especially some of the stuff revolving around Sheena/her clumsiness/her chest) feels incredibly forced, but most of the stuff involving Tenebrae, Regal or Genis can be hilarious.

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