Tales of Vesperia Review: A Good Way to Get Through Quarantine.

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4 stars
I live in New Zealand, which is currently in lock down because of the Carona Virus pandemic.
In the days leading up to the lock down, I was bored and looking for a game that I could get lost in for hours.
So, I looked up some and came across Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, a JRPG that had been praised for its story, characters and gameplay.
I bought the game not two days before the lock down was announced, so I ended up with a great way to pass the time indoors in the experience that is Tales of Vesperia.
Directed by Yoshito Higuchi, the game is set in Terca Lumires, a world infested with monsters.
The people use an energy source known as Blastia to generate shields to protect the cities from monsters, and also to help in their everyday lives.
When a Blastia from the Lower Quarter in Zaphias is stolen, former knight Yuri Lowell (Troy Baker) and his faithful dog Repede go on a journey to catch the thief.
From there, they encounter an assortment of wacky characters who join them on their quest, including an innocent noblewoman named Estelle (Eden Riegel), a young guild enthusiast, Karol (Julie Ann Taylor), a hot headed mage, Rita (Michelle Ruff), eye candy Krytian, Judith (Alison Lees Taylor), young pirate, Patty (Sandy Fox), and the mysterious Raven (Joe J. Thomas).
They also meet up with Yuri’s longtime friend and knight Flynn (Sam Riegel), who occasionally joins you on your journey and has a great dynamic with Yuri, especially when Yuri starts to go on a dark path that is both unexpected and great.
All of these characters are fantastic and, as you spend the game watching them interact, they begin to feel like a family.

skit
The various skits across the game helped to solidify the characters’ relationships and endear them to the viewer.

Watching Yuri and Karol’s bond grow throughout the game to the point that they felt like brothers was heartwarming, and Raven’s antics and Rita’s obvious crush on Estelle brought numerous laughs.
The only downside to the party is Patty who, although a great character, doesn’t really feel like she belongs in the story for the first half of the game.
It is pretty clear that she was added for the Definitive Edition.
Not only this but, sadly, much of the villains are incredibly one dimensional to the point that I was constantly bored whenever they were on screen.
They are all cliched mustache twirlers, with the exception of the main antagonist, Duke (Jamieson Price), who is thankfully just as compelling as the main cast.

Dukey boy
Duke was the one antagonist with a solid motivation and the only one I did not roll my eyes at when they appeared on screen.

Despite my problems with the villains though, I can clearly say that, thanks to the main cast, the characters are definitely the best part of the game.
The story is also solid because, while it is nothing special, it has a nice sense of pacing, starting out with the simple goal of catching a thief, before slowly growing into a world ending situation that our characters must deal with.
And then there’s the gameplay, which, I’ll admit, I was pretty terrible at.
You want to know how terrible?
Well, you know those two comic relief characters who constantly exclaim, “I say!” whenever they talk?
Yeah, those two bozos kicked my butt on multiple occasions.

joke characters
I say that these two two idiots made me groan with anguish every time I had to fight them alone as Yuri!

Given how poorly I played, you should take what I say about the gameplay with a grain of salt.
However, despite how bad I was, I still enjoyed the gameplay, leveling up the characters, and gifting them with new Artes
If anything, my poor play style added a level of challenge to the gameplay.
There are some things that the game doesn’t tell you about how to play though, so that can be frustrating.
But, all in all, the characters, story and gameplay are all a lot of fun.
Granted, the game is pretty dated, since it first came out in 2008, and there are some inconsistencies.
For example, the speech bubbles that are displayed sometimes do not match up with what the characters are saying or are in the wrong place, and some voice actors have been replaced for new scenes.
Some have said that these new actors are very distracting but, honestly, I couldn’t tell too much.
Yet, despite the dated nature of the game, I still found that, in quite a few instances, its animation is quite beautiful.
Overall, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition was a great way to pass the time in my isolation.
The story and gameplay are solid and the characters are fantastic, even if the game is a little dated in certain aspects

The Last of Us Part 2: State of Play Trailer and Release Date Discussion.

The wait is finally over for The Last of Us Part 2 news.
There were so many leaks and rumors over the past few years, both true and untrue, that I was just dying for more details on the upcoming sequel to my favourite video game of all time.
Well, this morning we got the details and then some with the latest State of Play, which included a trailer for the game, along with the much anticipated release date.
It is official; the rumors about February were correct because The Last of Us Part 2 will be released on February 21st 2020.
And now begins the slow, agonizing wait for the game to come out.
Not that I think that February is too far away, it really isn’t, but whenever you badly want something the days just seem longer until it comes out.
In any case, the trailer gave us all lots of juicy details to analyse before the game is released.
The biggest of these is that we finally got a look at Joel, alive no less!
He appears right at the end of the trailer and the graphics for him are fantastic.
He has had quite an update from the previous game to the point that I actually think he looks like an older Troy Baker.

Joel better shot
Joel looks incredibly different from how he looked in the first game with the updated graphics.

Along with the appearance of Joel we also get the basic plot of the game, with Ellie (Ashley Johnson) going to get revenge after a personal loss.
While the person Ellie loses is not shown, all signs point to Dina (Shannon Woodward).
Their relationship is just too happy at the beginning of the trailer for it to end well.
With Ellie losing Dina in a snow storm and then stumbling across a cabin where she walks in on something bad, only to be attacked and forced to watch as someone is shot, Dina seems like the most probable person to die.
Unless, of course, this is Naughty Dog wanting us to think it is Dina who dies and they actually kill someone else.
However, the only character I can think of whose death would be enough to get Ellie to go on a journey of revenge is Joel.
This would mean that Ellie is hallucinating him at the end of the trailer but I have never really liked this theory so I hope this is not the case.
Another thing that has me concerned is the people Ellie is after, the Seraphites.
In other trailers we have seen that their method of killing people is to hang them and then disembowel them, and this could make the deaths of Joel or Dina especially horrifying.
Granted, we do hear a gunshot so whoever is killed could die quickly but, again, that could be a part of the trailer intentionally used to mislead.
Also, part of me thinks that it is possible Naughty Dog would do something so dark.
No matter who dies, though, the moment from where Ellie first walks into the cabin to where she is sitting looking broken, with her bare back covered in bruises, is chilling, and sent goosebumps going up my skin.

state-of-play.jpg
The scene with Ellie in the cabin looks to be the most harrowing moment of the game.

From here, Ellie is shown to begin her revenge quest with Tommy (Jeffrey Pierce) advising her against it, only for her not to listen.
She almost seems suicidal as she expresses that she doesn’t care how many people the Seraphites have or how well armed they are.
Ellie appears to be solely focused on getting her revenge, not matter what happens to her, and this is translated well through the brutal combat.
I praised the gameplay in the last trailer for how cinematic it all looked and the new trailer continues this.
Ellie pulls an arrow out of her shoulder after getting shot, and even snatches an ax out of an enemy’s hands before killing him with it.
We also get a look at new Clickers and Bloaters, both of which look especially terrifying.
Speaking of the infected, we get a few shots of Ellie going through a spore infested area when she is still with Dina, and she is wearing a gas mask.
This makes me think Ellie is hiding her immunity from everyone else and this could backfire quite a bit if she loses that mask and someone notices.
Back to the gameplay, we also get a quick look at Ellie fighting a dog, which appears to be owned by the Seraphites because it does not look wild and has a collar.
I could honestly talk about how great the gameplay looks forever but I will finish by stating how fantastic the graphics are.
They are downright stunning with both the environment and character animations being awe inspiring.

landscape the last of us
The graphics for The Last of Us Part 2 are absolutely stunning with great landscapes.

The opening moments of the trailer give off a real Red Dead Redemption 2 vibe with the snow effects.
All in all, the latest trailer for The Last of Us Part 2 has got me even more hyped up for the game, if that is even possible considering how hyped I already was.
It looks to contain an emotional story, immersive and brutal gameplay, and beautiful animation.
Now we just have to wait a few months for what looks like the next masterpiece from Naughty Dog.