The game is set in the world of Sylvarant, a land that is on the wane due to a steady loss of mana, the energy source that is needed both for magic and to support life itself. As the crops begin to wither and hardship sets in, the people turn their hopes to the Chosen One, a servant of the Goddess Martel, who can reverse the ills of the world by completing a journey of world regeneration.
Tales of Symphonia has an incredible story, a real time battle system that evolves as you gain strength, and enough side quests to keep you mezmerised for dozens of hours.
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Pro It's got a marvelous story, and gets exponentially better as you discover the backstories to characters and areas
While it starts off as your typical "save the world" type of game, it changes rapidly as the player releases various seals and uncovers more about the Chosen and the Goddess Martel.
There's also 9 playable characters in the game, along with several non-player characters, each with their own backstory and development that you have to go looking for. You have to work for it, but it's absolutely worth it for how much more enriched the story becomes.
Pro Combat choices are completely up to you, thanks to a unique battle system
Tales games have always used what Namco calls the "linear motion battle system," a real-time, 2D battle engine that lets you move around the field and attack foes at will. Tales of Symphonia uses an expanded version of this system that's fast, fun, and easy to master.
In Tales of Symphonia, you have 4 characters with you in combat, and there are 3 different ways to fight: semi-auto, auto, and manual. With semi-auto, you control a character of your choice while the other 3 are automated and will act based on patterns you set yourself. In auto mode, every character is automated. In manual mode, every character will act only as you tell it to.
Pro You can play the game over and over again, getting stronger and discovering more storyline along the way
Tales of Symphonia sports "New Game Plus," which essentially means you get to keep aspects from your previous game and carry them over to a new one. You can spend GRADE (which is earned by battling) to get perks for your new game, which makes it a little easier (sort of).
There are certain plots, enemies, titles (which are given to you in-game for specific acts), and items that you can only encounter on a New Game Plus, and you might not even encounter all of them then. Tales of Symphonia has infinite replayability, which is a huge reason so many people love it.
Pro The music fits the mood of the game perfectly
The composer for this title, Motoi Sakuraba, really outdid himself. The music fits whatever's going on at the time perfectly, and will drastically increase the enjoyment you get out of this game. From sorrow, to anger, to happiness, the music will convey those feelings to you wonderfully, and immerse you in the experience even more.
Pro Huge amount of content and gameplay
The game has a bare minimum of 50 hours of play in it. That doesn't include side quests, delving into character development, etc.
Con The PC port isn't the greatest
If you buy Tales of Symphonia on Steam, expect to have to run a 3rd party patcher in order to make the game play optimally. Some users haven't had to do this, but most have.
Con Hard to fully complete on your own
As far as getting the game to 100% completion, it's incredibly difficult. There are many things with complex requirements that simply aren't stated in the game, so you may have to refer to a guide for them.
Con Enemy diversity can be lacking late in the game
As you progress more and more into the game, some of the enemies you'll face are simply re-skinned enemies from earlier areas, meaning they look the same but are colored differently.