Blank page… I don’t know how to begin with on ToGf. Maybe I should start with a simple fact : Tales of Graces was originally released on Wii in Japan in December 2009. One year later, the PS3 got an enhanced port called “F”, and that’s precisely this version that Namco has localized for the West.
Technically speaking, ToGf is a straight port from the Wii version, which makes it significantly below Tales of Vesperia (which unfortunately never made it to the West on PS3). Even though characters clearly don’t look as good as in ToV, some towns can hold the comparison with its predecessor’s, and visual effects actually nicely improved. Character animation, for PCs and NPCs, is surprisingly dynamic. In average, ToGf appears good but not outstanding for PS3.
The story was excellent. It goes deeper than Vesperia’s in questioning our own world and human condition. The relation between Richard, Asbel, Sophie and Lambda is just moving. In the humor department, ToGf doesn’t lose to Vesperia either : when the latter was dead serious most of the time, Graces leaves more room for laughter. The best part being the hilarious and numerous cutscenes you can see at the end of battles.
Being a huge fan of Vesperia’s battle system, I didn’t know what to expect from this one. To my delight, Namco’s brainstorming came up with something astonishingly addicting on the top of being extremely innovative. In ToGf, you sidestep/backstep/rush all the time so that you never show your back to the enemy. Attacks are divided between A attacks and B techs. A attacks are composed of 1 to 4 moves you can chain to make combos that are only limited to the number of CSs on your weapon. MPs are gone, B techs only take time. All this considerably speeds up battles, so that Vesperia and the other Tales of look like they were in slow mo! Boss fights are heated, all the more that the difficulty settings are well-thought : in difficulty “second” (between normal and hard), it was really challenging but at the same time highly satisfying. ToGf is also amazing on the non-battle side : the alchemy/crafting system and the mini-games (the discoveries ^_^) add much to the fun.
This PS3 version adds a colossal 15-hour long postgame story. Allowing the player to enjoy the scenario further, this part of the game is graphically well above the main story (because is was developed exclusively for PS3) and, most exciting point, sees Richard back in your party!
Tales of Graces F is a sweet revenge for Western PS3 players : after a amazing but unlocalized Vesperia, they will be the only ones to enjoy this great and original Tales of. A must-have for Tales fans and all JRPG players. Please see my gaminglive below to illustrate those points (I noticed there are some errors in it but that was my first play).