Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike is a prequel to the 2008 Xbox 360 game Tales of Vesperia. Although not exclusively meant for fans, those who haven’t played the game may have a hard time keeping up. It does, however, reveal more about the protagonist Yuri Lowell, as well as his best friend and rival Flynn Scifo. Caught in a tug of war between doing what is right and doing their duty as knights, both young men have kind hearts and only want what’s best for the town they’re meant to protect. This is where their similarities end and a strong rivalry begins. Yuri is a free spirit with a strong sense of justice who does what he thinks is right, even when it means disobeying orders. Flynn has a strong sense of duty and he listens to his superiors despite their orders going against what he feels in his heart.
The movie opens with Yuri, Flynn, and their comrades in the Niren Corps setting traps to destroy monsters that have recently become more aggressive than usual. This is revealed later to be caused by an abnormal amount of Aer In the area. Aer is the source of not only magic, but all of the technology in the world of Tales of Vesperia. Most of the movie’s plot is fairly linear; in fact the entire movie serves only to build upon the personalities of Yuri and Flynn in the game. There are many nods to fans with minor appearances from characters that have much larger roles in the game as well as an easter egg from Playstation 2 and Nintendo 3DS’ Tales of the Abyss.
Along with being nostalgic for fans, one of the movie’s best selling points are the visuals. Animated by the critically acclaimed Production I.G. the studio behind Eden of the East and Ghost in the Shell they hold nothing back when it comes to visual effects. The spell casting is astonishing in HD, and watching Yuri flourish his blade with all the dexterity and agility he had in the game is just as amazing. Along with the eye candy, both Troy Baker and Sam Riegal reprise their roles as Yuri and Flynn. Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike is definitely a must buy for fans of the series, they even go so far as to play the opening cut scene of the game in the end credits. Anime enthusiasts may be slightly disappointed by the somewhat lackluster plot, but this should not deter them as the visuals are quite astounding.
Special features include the U.S trailers, all of the Japanese promotional footage from theatrical to TV trailers, as well as an interesting video called Picture Sound, a musical slide show of various characters from the movie, the original Xbox 360 game and the Playstation 3 version of the game which was never released in the US.