Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Viña Maipo & Tales of Innocence R

Though I am a die-hard fan of Concha y Toro's Frontera, none of the stores local to my new abode seem to stock it. This substitute, Viña Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot, also from Chile, is not a bad number, however. It's quite fruity, and a little sweeter than Frontera, though the full body comes out as you progress through the bottle. Similarly, Tales of Innocence R, is not as full bodied as Vesperia, but does rather well on its own two feet...

The Japanese game industry has changed in much the same way the rest of the world has. Large projects keep getting larger and larger, to the point where one day, the industry will almost certainly implode. One of the main victims of this is the JRPG. Nowadays, new Final Fantasies and Dragon Quests are almost of Olympic stature, while new IP is often left to die at the side of the JRPG highway.

Bandai Namco seems to walk on some kind of middle ground with the Tales series, releasing a regular flow of ports, remakes and all new titles, all the while remaining platform agnostic (or perhaps, platform ignorant). I've always had an interest in the Tales series, and tried to get into them on a number of occasions, but the only one I've finished to date has been Tales of Vesperia on the Xbox 360. What set Vesperia apart from Destiny, Phantasia, Symphonia, Legendia et al, was its instant action. Much like Final Fantasy VII, the player is thrown into an exciting escapade without any warning, and the momentum holds up for a good couple of hours to get you hooked. This is the kind of start I love.

Tales of Innocence does not really have this thrilling opening, but it does have the luxury of being the first Tales game I've played since Vesperia, and it's also on the PlayStation Vita, so it has a free pass in some senses. That said, it's not as pedestrian a start as most of the other Tales games I have played and a stage is soon set to make me curious enough to want to keep playing.

I am approximately in the second third of the game, whereby the first third of a JRPG would be assembling your party, the second third is "achieving some objective" and the final third is dedicated to nailing your villain and bringing peace to the world. So now my party is almost complete, I have my ship and am sailing the world looking for information. The characters are what you would expect from a Tales game, but the lack of a Carol means I like the Innocence characters more than Vesperia overall, in spite of the lead being a bit of a wimp. There's your typical spunky girl, old geezer, mother-like figure, tough guy and bookworm, but the regular "WTF is this species?" character has been cast as the pet of one of the PCs rather than an actual PC, thankfully. All characters are voiced wonderfully.

The battles are essentially comparable to Vesperia. I am not far enough into the game to have unlocked the full gamut of attacks and combos, but at this point it is within Vesperia's reach, for sure. One additional component is the Rave system. Keep attacking the enemy without taking hits, and a rave meter will fill up. Keep filling it up to increase your rave level, while taking hits drains the meter. You can assign special bonuses to rave levels, such that maintaining a level will grant you constant health regeneration, or stronger attacks. The bonuses are marginal, but they keep you on your toes, at least.

My friend, Kyle, has a video up on YouTube playing through an area a little before where I have reached. Be sure to subscribe to his channel for more Vita shenanigans!

I probably won't talk much more about Innocence until I finish it, so hold tight for a few days.

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