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

The original Tales of Symphonia was one of the Gamecube’s best reviewed and best-selling titles. Now, four years later, the Gamecube’s successor sees Symphonia’s successor. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World takes place two years after the end of the original game and puts you in the shoes of a new protagonist with a few new gameplay mechanics and a cast of new and returning faces.

Two years after the first game, the world’s climate is thrown out of control after the fusion of the two worlds in the first game. A young man named Emil, whose parents were killed by Lloyd, protagonist of the first game, and a young girl named Marta set off to resurrect Ratatosk, the lord of monsters, in order to restore balance to the new world. The story is incredibly slow to start off and Emil is incredibly whiny and annoying at first. You really have to push yourself through the first few hours but once the story gets under way it becomes fairly interesting with most of the previous game’s cast making extended appearances and a host of interesting new characters taking the stage.

Dawn of the New World’s combat system remains mostly unchanged from the previous game. Random battles are fought in real-time and you can see enemy icons on the field map so you can avoid combat altogether if you so wish. Unlike the original game however, Emil and Marta are your only two permanent party members, the rest of your bench is filled up by capturing monsters Pokemon-style. While this mechanic sounds gimmicky at first, it is nonetheless fun to scour the world and build up your table of monsters. Granted, since at least one member of the original Tales of Symphonia cast is typically in your party, you’ll often them taking up a spot on your bench. Unfortunately, you cannot equip or modify these characters in the same way you could with Emil and Marta.

One thing that some people might find objectionable is that Dawn of the New World feels somewhat like an add-on as opposed to a full-featured RPG. As such, you do not physically travel through the over world, you only select a location from a list and you travel there automatically. There is also a lack of substantial side-quests that you would expect from a major RPG release. What side quests are available are taken from a vendor in town, you are transported to the location or battle, and after your task is complete, you are returned to the town. Not terribly engrossing and for very little reward. Dawn of the New World feels like an RPG with all the fat cut out thus leaving the focus almost entirely on the main quest. Still, the main quest is entertaining and will last you roughly 40-hours.

Production-wise, Dawn is just about on par with the previous game with few leaps made in terms of graphics or sound. Aside from a small shift in art style, the two games look and sound incredibly similar. For some this could be disappointing, especially considering how beautiful the recent Tales of Vesperia looked on the Xbox 360, but for the art style, the graphics at least suffice, but are hardly pushing the line in terms of what’s possible for the series or even the Wii.

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is a follow-up to one of the Gamecube’s best games. The story is enjoyable after a very slow start and combat lives up to the standards of its predecessor. Some gamers however may be turned off by the lack of meaningful distractions but others could just as easily enjoy the more straightforward RPG experience this game provides.