Wii Review: Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

Why did it take an extra year to get to Europe?

Set two years after the events of the award-winning Tales of Symphonia for the Nintendo GameCube, Dawn of the New World follows the journey of two new young heroes, Emil Castagnier and Marta Lualdi, as they seek to uncover the mystery of why their world has fallen into ruin. In their quest, their paths will cross with the original cast of Tales of Symphonia including Lloyd and Colette, as well as a summon spirit known as Ratatosk who claims to be the lord of all monsters.
I never played the original Tales of Symphonia game; it was probably one of the few GameCube RPG’s that I didn’t buy. But it was well received by critics and expectations are pretty high…can the sequel match them? In some ways it does, but it does disappoint in certain areas regarding the overall flow of the story, presentation and visuals. The gameplay is solid and will please any RPG nut or fan of the original. Having watched videos of the original, I can say that the sequel looks almost identical.

Which isn’t a problem since the first game looked good, but the Wii can do a bit more than that…so I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t take advantage of the extra horsepower. Another thing that is odd is that Dawn of the New World came out in America over a year ago, so why has it taken that long to bring it across the pond? It’s a mystery and quite annoyingly, possibly made people in Europe get a Freeloader disc only to have it blocked out by a Wii Update.

Combat is done in real-time as you move your character around and manually attack the foes. Your team-mates will be handled with impressive AI that usually does a decent job in attacking and staying alive. It’s hardly revolutionary, but it works fairly well. Owners of the original game can import their GameCube save to the Wii version…something that I don’t think has been done before on the console…but I wish older games would do that if they make Wii sequels.
Exploration takes a bit of a nose dive as areas are accessed by a very standard map that isn’t free-roaming like that of great RPGs like Final Fantasy. The good news is that it more or less cuts out random encounters and you can pick your own fights (for the most part). Those used to exploring the world in RPGs will be disappointed, but those who hated random fights will be over the moon. It all comes down to personal preference.

Voice-acting is brilliant, but there are a lot of awkward long pauses between dialogues which ruins it at times. Levels seem recycled from the GameCube version with perhaps different variants like weather changes, so those expecting a lot of new areas will be disappointed. On the plus side, it’ll feel nostalgic to come back to areas from the original.

The Verdict

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is a worthy successor to a great RPG. It may not be as good as the first game, but it shows that there’s still room for the series. Perhaps if they make a third game, they should focus on making the story more engaging instead of making it drag out and polish up the presentation. Other than that, you probably will be hard-pushed to find a better RPG on the Wii for the holidays.