There’s also an extensive Titles system introduced in Graces. This system helps players focus on the artes they like the most, and acts as a secondary leveling system. Also new is the Eleth Mixer, which allows players do things such as auto-cook during or after combat or generate gels by chance when simply exploring. There’s also Dualizing, which allows you to combine items, enchant gear, and create accessories. Due to space restrictions, I can’t go much into these features, but trust me, they’re pretty awesome.
After a few hours into the game (I believe after the completion of the Childhood era), players unlock the Trials of Graces mode. This mode acts as a complement to the story mode. At certain parts of the story, you’ll unlock different scenarios for Trials of Graces. These scenarios are simply battle encounters where, upon completion, you’ll get items (such as armor or weapons) as rewards. These items will automatically be applied to your latest saved game in the story mode. They’re not only a nice way to get free gear upgrades for your characters, but if you really just want to wail on some enemies in co-op, this is a great way to do it.
Graces is a solid installment in the Tales series. Though I’m still unsure whether I like the story more than some of the other Tales games, I certainly enjoy the combat system the most. Additions such as the Eleth Mixer, Titles system, and Dualizing system make the JRPG-geek in me chortle with glee, and give players a lot of ways to customize their playing experience. There are pros and cons to the co-op of the game. As usual, the co-op is confined to the combat (and thus is local only, as only makes sense), but it’s also easy to swap players in and out on the fly. While Graces does a good job at supporting two players in combat almost all of the time (unlike some previous titles), it wasn’t until about seven hours in that I had a party which could support four players at the same time. The Trials of Graces system makes it easy to find encounters if you just want to fight in co-op, but to unlock more encounters you will have to progress the main story, so it can’t really act as a substitution to the story mode. As such, the co-op in Graces is probably not for everyone, but it is certainly not any more restricting than any of the other Tales games (it’s actually better than most). If you’re a Tales (or general JRPG) fan and are looking for a solid title with local co-op and are willing to accept both the strengths and weaknesses of the co-op, then Tales of Graces F is a great game to pick up.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up in up to 4-player local co-op to play through the real-time combat sequences.
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