With the (North American) release of Tales of Vesperia imminent, I checked out the demo that’s been on Live since July (on the ball, me). In terms of interface, style and battle system, it stays true to its predecessor – the Gamecube’s Tales of Symphonia – while updating the graphical frippery to the standards expected of a 360 release.
It’s a relatively short demo, but it does give you a good taste of the combat, with plenty of enemies waiting for you (enemies are visible as you walk around the play area – no random encounters here) as well as a boss fight towards the end. The battle system is pretty much identical to Symphonia, with you taking control of one character while the others fight automatically based on your settings. The game allows you to define three combat styles to switch between quickly (by default they are Moderate, Full Attack and Defensive) which allows compulsive tweakers to have control over the way the battles pan out.
Only English voiceovers were present in the demo and is of fairly decent standard, with none standing out as particularly bad or mismatched. Hopefully Namco Bandai include the option of Japanese audio in the final release – the demo doesn’t allow access to the configuration page at all, which makes it impossible to see if the option is present.
So, to sum up: a nice, short demo (and small by recent standards, just over 200meg) that gives the user chance to get a good feel for the battle system and characters.