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The Bard's Tale (PlayStation 2)

75
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Indra is here (19781)
Written on  :  Aug 03, 2007
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars

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Summary

Right Script and Acting, Wrong Game

The Good

Just to let you know, if you are familiar with the original Bard's Tale series which was 1st person perspective RPG in the 1980's, well this Bard's Tale has nothing to do with that unfortunately. So if you’re a big fan of the series, you just got suckered...like me.

Most old-skool RPG fans were waiting for this game to come out only because of its title. This little marketing scheme may have disappointed many hardcore fans of the series. Something I propose publishers never do again: Promote a false Messiah.

Anyway, back to the game. Bard's Tale, curiously enough is exactly was the title say's it is. A tale of a Bard. The bard is you and considering the time period, bard's are practically tricksters and scoundrels with the wit and charm of barmaids always fall far...at least until she's taken advantaged or she's missing a few coins.

And so we have the tale of our Bard. A handsome fellow...a little rough behind the edges...maybe a lot rough behind the edges, has the tongue of a snake and most impressively can steal a maidens virginity before she realizes it’s gone! A little dramatic by my part, but our hero bard is everything every man at one point in his life wanted to be...but wasn't allowed by certain figures in society. Ahem.

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Now if you’re expecting this game to be an RPG, then you may be a little disappointed. Unfortunately for you RPG fans, this the game's genre follow this sequence :
  1. Adventure
  2. Action
  3. RPG


So if your an action adventure fan or a hack-and-slash RPG fan, then this may be up your alley. For hardcore RPG fans, this game however lacks fundamental elements an old skool RPG has, but we'll discuss that later.

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The difference this game has to offer refers to the Bard's skills. Our bard is practically a Fighter/Mage/Ranger/Thief. As traditional RPG bard's are, a Jack-of-Trades. A little bit of everything, none too good, none too bad.

Now the "magic" part refers to his bard abilities to play tunes or songs. When played, the magical notes create a spell. May it be a bonus to your character, but more interesting, the capability to summon monsters or NPCs to aid your bard. Depending on your charisma, you can summon a maximum of 4 (four) monsters to aid you in battle.

But what I like most in this game is something I totally did not expect: Good acting and good storytelling (well the storytelling got lame later on, but the first few hours were pretty good – especially the pub song). Now the voice acting (and whoever wrote it was genius!). I'm always a fan for intelligent sarcastic type-dialogs, since all those "serious-type" acting does get to be boring and repetitive after a while. The acting in this game is a breath of fresh and funny air in my gaming experience, since not many if not almost no RPGs have ever had a "serious approach to humor" before in there games.

The main actors of this game comprise of two individuals. Firstly, you the Bard - who has this pessimistic and opportunistic tone and idea of life. And the Storyteller, who doesn't seem to like the Bard one bit as if he has a gun...or crossbow aimed at his head if he didn't continue to tell the story. I love the fact that there are many scenes where the Bard and the Storyteller keep fighting among themselves, totally out of context of the game, which probably is a very refreshing diversion from all that monster-bashing. I don't recall playing a game where half of the time I was laughing...

Needless to say, the acting introduced in this game, to my subjective opinion is the best elements of the game. An approach which I have rarely seen in games and would really like to see more with this type of acting involved.

The Bad

Now from an RPG point of view for you RPG lovers out there, this game is a serious insult to the genre. If I didn't know any better, they'd should have dropped the RPG part in the first place, because seriously, it technically wouldn't made much difference.

Why? Simple little things like character development, which is minimal. But the most insulting trait to a hardcore RPG gamer is the elimination of an inventory and complex items.

My God, what have they done? This isn't an RPG, its an adventure game wanting to be an RPG! That's right boys and girls, you don't have an inventory. Well you do, but its automatic...similar to what you would normally find in action-adventure games.

Now the problem isn't that the game doesn't have much of an inventory, character development, and other stuff you'd find. It's because of one thing: the title.

It's called Bard's Tale. If you want to use a name that already has a reputation, in this case of being one of the best darn RPG series in the RPG classic world of gaming, then people you'd better live up to it or get trashing from the fans. Most of us already condemn this game just because of the title. Hey, we were really expecting a Bard's Tale sequel here you maggots! Don't blame us if we spit on your grave!

The Bottom Line

If it weren't for the splendid voice acting, I would give this game a good trashing it really deserves. A rare exception.