Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is the third time I played the game, having previously played it on the Xbox 360 and a few years later on the PS3 after importing a copy from Japan. I’m a huge Tales fan, having played every game, and without spoiling the review, still, believe that Tales of Vesperia is the best title in the series and one of the best games of all time. Let’s get into why I love this game so much in the review.
When Tales of Vesperia was announced for a Remaster last year in June, I was equal parts shocked as well as happy. Initially released as an Xbox 360 exclusive back in 2008, the game proved to be both a critical and financial success selling over 600,000 copies worldwide. However many like me still believe the game could have done even better if it was multi-platform since the Xbox 360 wasn’t really a console people bought to play JRPGs. A PS3 version was released in 2009 but that continued to stay Japan-exclusive even after years of rumor, and I do mean years since I was busy covering them all. The PS3 version featured new content and even a new playable character. With Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition all my requests are answered as so many people will now be able to play the game I love so much on the platform of their choice i.e the PS4, Xbox One, PC or Switch.
I chose to play on the PS4 as it seemed the best version graphically for consoles. On the PS4, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition performs at a constant 60fps running at 1080p, while on the Xbox 360 the game goes down to 30fps, finally the Switch is the same as the Xbox One version but goes down in resolution to 720p while in Handheld mode. The PC as many would assume has no limit on resolution or FPS and can go up to 4K resolution with the frame rate that your hardware can handle.
Vesperia was the first Tales game to take the series into the HD territory and looked really good for the time with its glowing and colorful art style. The Definitive Edition improves upon those with post-processing effects and improved resolution, although I do wish Bandai Namco would put in a bit more effort to make the game playable at 4K on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, as the consoles could easily handle it. It’s certainly disappointing to see them not taking advantage of the more powerful consoles.
There are several improvements and additions to the game other than the new and improved graphics. We finally get all the content previously exclusive to the PS3 Japanese version that I mentioned earlier which included new music tracks, DLC costumes and two more characters for your party. With all these additions to the game including new quests and bosses, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition should easily last you more than 100 hours of playtime if you decided to go forth and uncover what the game’s world has to offer.
Tales of Vesperia stars Yuri Lowell, the best JRPG protagonist ever. Yuri was certainly a breath of fresh air back in the day and honestly still is considering the trend of angsty and overly peppy JRPG leads, which the Tales series itself can be criticized for. Yuri’s a heroic young adult with a strong sense of justice but willing to do whatever it takes when it counts. You’ll never see Yuri moan or complain throughout the game, but instead, it’s really fun to see how he keeps his cool in even the dire situations. He’s just so good!
The game’s campaign takes the party to so many unique locations with each party character getting their dedicated story arcs. Vesperia really took me by surprise whenever it would explore side-character arcs. What may seem as characters catering to certain generic tropes slowly evolved into unique personalities when you go deeper into the campaign. There’s not a party character in Tales of Vesperia which I don’t like, which if you’re a JRPG veteran should know is very hard to pull off.
The gameplay side of Vesperia is old-school for exploration but the combat offers a lot of options for forming a strategy. During exploration, the game restricts to a fixed camera view so this is a noticeable step back for the series which stated to offer full 3D environment. It does give the game a classic RPG vibe, which is not that bad. The antiquated nature of the camera controls also extend to the battle where the field of view is small. The battle themselves are not seamless to the experience and will often feel detached from the exploration.
This brings me to one of the disadvantages of the Nintendo Switch version. While the game runs at 60 FPS in battles, it is a different story outside them because the frame rate gets halved. It can feel rather distracting and unfortunately, it is definitely noticeable in motion if you are sensitive to the frame rate. The shift between 30 to 60 FPS is just not a good one and I would have preferred the game to run at 60 FPS, which is only possible on the PS4 and PC. I don’t understand what was so demanding here to make this change.
Tales of Vesperia felt like an incomplete release when it comes to localization. The original Xbox 360 version was always a quick port that launched exclusively on that platform. The Definitive Edition brings the choice of both English audio with a new dub basically covering all the extra new content, while the Japanese audio is great if you want to keep the experience authentic and play with full English subtitle support as provided by the game. The result is that the voice acting is almost twice the length of the original game.
What hasn’t changed is the battle system. It remains the same letting you lock around and execute combos with a character. Everyone has their own special attacks in battle while the lock-on system lets you successfully dodge and target multiple enemies with ease. It doesn’t offer the full freedom that you expect from an action RPG, but the strategical aspect of the fights makes it all the more worthwhile. If you think the game is too easy, I recommend to give it a chance on the Hard difficult at least once, because it can prove incredibly fun, and frustrating too, if you lack the patience to sit through the fights with skills.
Tales of Vesperia features a star-studded voice cast with the lead being voiced by Troy Baker. It was a great role played by him before his eventual rise to stardom, and it still holds up well after all these years. The voice acting in the game is pretty good and the new content is also voiced now making it all a definitive experience. The soundtrack is composed by series veteran Motoi Sakuraba and it offers some great tunes when exploring locations, or beating down enemies with flashy combat moves.
It took such a long time for fans in the Western market to get the localized version of Tales of Vesperia with all the added new content. At one point, it was a running joke among the community, but with this release, it is no doubt that Bandai Namco has delivered it with spades. Support for dual audio was a nice gesture by them, and the game seems to run rather well on the PS4, with some disappointing result outside battles on Nintendo Switch. It is a price to pay for the portable Tales of Vesperia experience.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Review (PS4/Switch)
Game Reviewed on: PS4/Switch
Game description: Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Tales of Vesperia and the return of this fan-favorite with the Definitive Edition!
Final Score - 9/10
Tales of Vesperia is often hailed as one of the best entries in the series, and rightfully so. The new content of definitive edition gives it a fresh coat of paint, which is already a great action JRPG. What is slightly disappointing is the lack of proper visual upgrade, but the improved resolution and frame rate does make a big difference.